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Bats of Battembang

On the elephant project we had heard about bat caves in Battembang where every sunset millions of bats fly out of the cave for their evening feast of insects. This was something we needed to see for ourselves and so we took the now relatively short bus journey to Battambang from Siem Reap. Also we wanted to go here purely for the fact that Battembang sounds a bit like Battenberg and I love Battenberg cake. Probably should point out that this is where the similarities stop and we did not find any Battenberg cake here...sad times but we did see the bats...good times!

It was only going to be a flying visit on our journey back south towards the coast for Xmas and new year and after paying a bit more in Siem Reap so we could have a pool to cool off in we were pleased to find the Tomato guesthouse where our own room was only $1.50 each! Cheap as chips :)

The bat caves are located on a limestone hill called Phnom Sampeau which is also where another more ominous cave is known as the Killing Caves. This is where the Khmer Rouge killed over 2000 people and is now a memorial to the people who died there with a reclining Buddha inside and a temple also resides at the top. We decided to check this out before the flight of the bats.


It was quite a steep walk up the hill and we were joined by a couple of enthusiastic kids who made it look so easy running around us and even raced Dan a short distance whilst a plodded up behind them. It was a good thing it was late afternoon, in the heat of the day it would have been even harder! We passed a smaller temple on the way to the caves and were inundated with different people asking for donations for the road and although we obliged it felt a bit odd as we had already paid the fee to go up and so you would think that should go to the road?

The kids lead as to the killing caves and it is a really eerie place. As we walked down into the cave they pointed out the opening in the ceiling, like a skylight, at one end of the cave. This was where people would have been bludgeoned at the top before being chucked through the skylight to their death. It was sickening to think that where we were standing so many bodies would have landed and by the memorial Buddha there was a glass box containing their bones as a reminder of what happened here. We didn't stay down their too long and were pleased to climb back out into the sun.


We continued to the top to see the temple and also the great view.


There were also lots of monkeys at the temple but they looked a bit scary so we stayed out their way!


At the temple we met a Swedish guy called Patrick who was travelling on his own and told us how on his way to Battenbang he got chatting to a local girl on the bus who wanted to practice her English. The family then invited him to go and see their house and join them for a hot pot dinner. Once they found out he had not sorted his accommodation yet they insisted that he stayed the night with them! Another example of Cambodian hospitality :) We made our way back down the hill to wait for the bats to come out! We had misjudged the time and had an hour to kill and so sat chatting with the tuk tuk drivers and had a cold refreshing drink....or so I thought! Unknown to me a bee had got into my can of Sprite and I did not find out until I tried to drink it and it stung the roof of my mouth making me spit it out all over Dan! I ve never been stung before so it was a bit of a shock particularly as I could feel the stinger still stuck and Dan had to try to get it out. Bit of a drama but I survived!

Lesson learned keep an eye on your drink...another one was on the can in an instant


As I recovered Dan joined the tuk tuk drivers in playing their version of keepy uppy.


Then it was time and we eagerly waited beneath the entrance of the cave for the bat spectacular! You could hear them all making clicks and noises to each other in the cave. As we waited a young guy who was studying to be a lawyer at the university in Battambang came to talk to us to practice his English. He was really friendly and when I was off taking videos of the bats he asked Dan how he could get an English girlfriend :) I'm not sure what tips were given but they had a good chat.

He told us that an estimated 2 billion bats live in the cave and fly out every evening at the same time to feed on the insects. It takes over an hour for them all to fly out of the cave. The numbers are unfathomable even when you are watching it....really was a breath taking sight as the continuously stream out of the cave. Definitely one of the most impressive wildlife phenomenons I ve seen with my own eyes.

This is just 45 seconds of the flight of the bats....literally millions of them...

Just remember if you go to keep your mouth shut as you look up in wonder as they fly out doing their other business too!


Posted by doyledan 20:25 Archived in Cambodia

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