So today we departed Battambang for Siem Reap. A boat trip. We needed to get something for breakfast en route, so we all piled into a little convoy of tuk tuks, our luggage bouncing precariously in one, and we the tour group split into two others. I say a convoy, but this wasn’t strictly true, as our tuk tuk in the front went one way, and the one behind in an entirely different direction.
With waves and amused shouts we were reunited just in time to stop off at a Battambang Bakery. To be fair, the total distance covered was about 150 yards, so the tuk tuks were possibly excessive at this point. We might as well have demanded to be carried everywhere in a sedan chair. Maybe I will ask for that next time actually. Could be my new favourite way to travel given time.
The bakery itself was frankly splendid. Their was an amazing selection of baked delights of uncertain composition. It was food craft taken to new extremes. I tried to ask the staff whether anything did not have meat, but was met with a beaming friendly smile combined with a look of absolute incomprehension. I asked our guide to translate. He exchanged some words with the baking staff then marched to some bins with freshly baked rolls and baguettes – granted they looked delicious and were oven warm. He held one aloft in a manner a shallower traveller may have considered somewhat phallic, and said this is what vegetarians can have. Smiling and laughing at his own joke, which to be fair was good.
I eyed up the sweeter more confectionary bread items. They did look gorgeous but really party food, not so much luncheon choices. Nevertheless, needs must, and who wouldn’t want a crocodile shaped piece of sweet bread! I gathered it was ‘sweet’ but nothing. It mattered not. I did not know before today that I was lacking such an item, but it will make a fantastic pet, and is an altogether more appropriate traveling companion than an imaginary friend. See how lovely it is. It seemed a shame to eat it, I will keep it throughout my travels and preserve it with the reference that is usually attributed only to tiers of wedding cake.* Nice sweat stains I’m sporting too. Only been out of air conditioning for about 10 minutes! I’m beginning to wonder how much sweat one human body can produce all by itself. Rather too much if I’m anything to go by. Mind you I am drinking absolute gallons of the stuff, I’m so scared of getting dehydrated!
Whilst the others were loading themselves up with miscellaneous carb choices I explored the shop a bit more. I was delighted to see all sorts of confectionary creations. Also, party hats! Of course party hats! Why not buy party hats at the same time as getting your party cakes?
All laden, we piled back into the tuk tuks. Alarmingly for me, I was in the one behind our luggage. My bag was precariously thrown on the top of everyone else’s their luggage items on the whole being larger and less squishy. Unfortunately, the smooth surfaces of their cases against my nylon backpack provided little friction, and what with the bumpy road and many turns, my backpack bounced on the top and lurched ever closer to toppling off the edge. I wouldn’t have cared at all, but I’d taken the precaution of putting my laptop in my backpack, as opposed to carrying it with me, precisely because I thought it would be safe. It was. Amazingly, arriving at the boat dock in one piece which is more than might be said for my shredded nerves! Oh well, we all made it.
Disembarked from the tuk tuks, and onto our private boat. Yay! So excited. Bye bye Battambang, hello river trip!
*I thought that at the first. But I did break into it later on, whilst on the boat. It was a bit too sweet for me, but impressive. More cake than bread, there’s probably a posh word for it that proper bakers know. Like a bread you might have as the base for an iced bun. Inside, was a surprise! The reptile’s innards were composed of a sort os sweet coconut paste, with the texture of slightly melted marzipan. Not unpleasant, but very sweet.
I didn’t eat much, but the head and upper body have gone, along with the raison eyes. That pet isn’t making the return trip to the UK. To be honest, it probably wouldn’t have made it through customs in any event. Quite right too, there is enough illegal trade in exotic animals without me contributing to it any further. Actually, the shop was selling turtles too, maybe I should have told someone? Too late now!