Battambang 11.10.16

Daily life traveling is usually more complicated than life lived in one place. These complications are humorous and something I expect. Even so, I still shake my head in wonder and amusement when these moments occur.

I arrived in Battambang from the islands. My clothes were dirtier than I could manage hand washing. I asked at the hostel front desk about laundry. The staff directed me to the Modern Laundry about 5 blocks away. Modern Laundry is the term for washing businesses that use machines for washing instead of washing clothes by hand. Both businesses dry clothes in the sun.

I visited this Modern Laundry 5 times in 2 days. Cue the internal amusement and external smiles with culturally appropriate bowing to indicate appreciation.

  1. Day 1, Visit 1. Drop off clothes. Confirm clothes would be dried in the sun. Confirm whites would be washed separately. Confirm evening pick-up.
  2. Day 1, Visit 2. This visit was my fault. I decided to bike ride with Julia but  all my exercise clothes where at Modern Laundry. After much explaining, I left with a wonderfully clean smelling wet pair of shorts and a top.
  3. Day 1, Visit 3. Return to pick up laundry. Discover one of my shirts in a pile awaiting ironing instead of with my clean, folded clothes pack. Point out a bedazzled shirt in my pack that does not belong to me, it is removed. Attempt to pay but my $20 USD bill is too large for the staff to make change. We determine it is best to return tomorrow when I have smaller bills and my shirt is ironed.
  4. Day 2, Visit 1. Return to Modern Laundry. Pay for clothes and leave with washed, folded clothes in a plastic bag. At my hostel I unpack the clothes and realize my jeans are missing.
  5. Day 2 Visit 2. Quickly return to Modern Laundry. Explain my jeans are missing. Point to what I believe are my pants nicely folded in someone else’s laundry packet. Retrieve pants.

If when you read this story you imagine a counter always staffed with people ready to help me when I visit, you are wrong. For each visit I would enter the owner’s home, yell hello and the Khmer equivalent, susadaymultiple times and wait a few minutes for someone to pop out and help me. Then, with a language barrier, we would have our conversations.

The family owners of Modern Laundry were lovely and concerned that I would be inconvenienced. For my part, I was amused and reminded that I am living life in a place where order and process are less common. Bottom line – never do laundry in a hurry and smile, a lot.

All visitors to the islands pass through the town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia called Snooky or Snookyville by travelers. The name should give you an idea of what the main drag is like in this town! And if the name is not clear enough, here are a few signs. I spent a quick night in Sihanoukville before I could get onward transit. This is my “work attire” and “work bag” these days.
From Sihanoukville I bussed to Phnom Penh, waited a few hours, and then departed for Battambang. The journey was about 12 hours.
In Battambang I joined a Free Cycling Tour with new friend Julia. It is always great to be on a bike.
Out tour visited local people who produce various food items for sale. This family makes a sweet, dried dessert from bananas. Julie and I were not nearly as skilled at cutting the bananas.
A lot is produced with rice including rice paper (for spring rolls), rice wine, and rice noodles. The manufacturing processes are labor intensive. Each piece of rice paper, for example, is handled four times before it is sold. We also stopped at a fish sauce factory. The smell was strong.
Battambang, like other Cambodian cities, has French influenced architecture.
A highlight to my visit in this city was the Phare Ponleu Selpak show. This performing arts school was founded in 1994 with the belief that the arts are a powerful tool for human development and social change. Phare is a not for profit primarily supporting kids in poverty or orphaned kids. The energy of the young people performing along with their strength, skills, and passion was incredible. Watch a clip and you are sure to smile.
One of the tourist attractions in Battambang is the bamboo train. The train ride felt like a roller coaster without any drops. When two trains traveling in opposite directions meet, the bamboo platform and then the wheels of one train are lifted off of the tracks allowing  the other train to pass.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Woessner says:

    Funny laundry story . . . and good thing you have lots of time and a beautiful smile:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thanks mom. Yes, the smile does make all the difference. Now, if only Modern Laundry could get the clothes to change colors, than it might feel like home 😉


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