Wat Banan, Bamboo Train and Bat Cave

It had been raining pups and kittens according to David when I last visited Wat Banan 18 months ago and we had to abandon our intended climb up the 300 laterite stone steps to the 11th century temple on top. Also cancelled was a visit to the killing caves and bat roosts of Phnom Sampeou mountain, and an evening at the famous child circus of Phare Ponleu Selpak.
All these and more were accomplished this week. The Bamboo Train was worth another ride and was as much fun rocketing along the bumpy warped rails as it had been the first time.
The macabre collection of skulls and long bones in the mountain top caves at Phnom Sampeou was another disturbing reminder of the Khmer Rouge era. The flight of billions of small bats at dusk heading for their nightly feast of lake flies is a wonderful natural spectacle both as they stream overhead from their daytime roost in a huge cliff side cave and as they swoop and circle in a huge continuous sausage across the fields and villages on their journey to the Tonle Sap 20-30 km away.
Our evening at the circus in a school for performing and graphic art which started in a refugee camp and now caters for orphan and poor children from Battambang district was a wonderful climax. A troupe of gymnasts and dancers entertained a delighted crowd with amazing feats of tumbling, juggling and acrobatics backed by an atmospheric band of local instruments, the whole event telling a story of romantic contest and ambition. Two of the boys have recently been accepted by the Montreal International Circus School, a great achievement and an endorsement of the effort put in by both pupils and tutors in this worthy enterprise.


Bamboo train ride


Cloud of bats leave their cave at dusk


Bats like a flock of starlings in the distant sky


Battambang circus


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One response to “Wat Banan, Bamboo Train and Bat Cave

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