A ride on the bamboo train (or Norry) could be the best thing or the worst thing that you can experience.
The good thing: it's one of a kind in the world. (though I have heard of a similar thing in the Philippines). You ride a bamboo raft set on wheels on rails. It's a fun ride, though totally bone jarring and full of hard knocks and jerks. The poorly maintained tracks are warped and misaligned in many places where the vehicle jerks like crazy. Also, you need to squat on the bamboo platform on cushions- there are no seats or hand holds unless you are sitting at the very front. The driver sits at the rear end on a slightly raised plank of wood so that he gets a clear view of the track ahead from over your heads.
Things get interesting when you encounter an oncoming 'train'. Here, the accepted convention is that the train carrying the greater number of passengers has to yield. In this case, the 'train' is taken apart, and then physically carried to behind the approaching train and then re-assembled. Both drivers work at it, meaning the approaching train has to stop as well, and it's driver help your own driver take his car apart and put it back again. It's a funny sort of experience to get off in the middle of nowhere and have your train taken apart and built up again.
The trains have a simple motorcycle or tractor engine with the wheels driven by a simple fan belt.
Now for the negatives. One, the starting point is a bit out of the way- quite far from Battambang town. It took us about 15- 20 min. by car.
Two, there is no canopy or shade on the train, so if it's hot, like it was when I visited, be prepared to be slow roasted. And the ride is really bumpy and bone jarring.
Third, the ride, which now costs US$ 5, has been now severely curtailed, and it lasts only 20 min. till the next station, which is actually a bit of a tourist trap. If you have visited the Angkor temples in Siem Reap, then you know the persistence at which local kids (and here ladies too) try and sell you stuff. 'You baai' you baai' (you buy) etc. If you have already bought some thing, another kid or lady will push with 'one more, from me, we are poor', or 'one more, it help me go school' (sic) etc. And you have to necessarily halt there for nearly half an hour.
The village is actually a walking village, so if the hard sell gets too persistent, you can walk around and see a traditional brick kiln. In theory. In practice however it's really too hot to go anywhere.
We got around this problem by sitting in a stall that also sold cold drinks. We bought a couple of wrist bands for my travel companion, and then sat there quietly sipping our cold drinks and striking up a conversation with our stall holder ladies. We sat there for the half hour, meaning none of the others bothered us.
They say the bamboo trains or norries will be taken off the rails soon in favour of proper trains, but although I've been hearing this since 2009, there seems to be no sign of any railway construction happening in Cambodia as of April 2014, when I visited.
I'll only say keep an open mind, enjoy the bone jarring ride, for its uniqueness if nothing else, and do go easy on the locals-- they are only trying to make a living here. But as we did, if you dive into one of the stalls and spend your half an hour of halt there, the other stalls won't bother you. After half an hour, you can ask your stall owners to go fetch your driver.
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