This unique experience is soon to be a thing of the past as trains are reintroduced into Cambodia but, for now, it is a not to be missed experience!!! The bamboo train runs on the old French rail lines which have been abandoned and are almost overgrown and your mode of transport is a two wheel axis with a motor and a bamboo ‘raft’.
We took a seat on said ‘raft’ and the driver started the engine and before we knew it we were literally flying along! It goes faster than you ever would have expected and it rattles and vibrates under you – just a few bamboo poles separating you from the rails racing below!
So there we were, admiring the scenery, trying not to be taken out by stray branches and marvelling at the unique experience when suddenly we noticed another bamboo ‘raft’ flying towards us… now what? There are no diverting rails or sidelines or curbs – in fact there are just bushes on either side of us which then drop away to nothing. We slowed to a standstill in front of the other ‘raft’ – a stand-off! Measuring each other up, the drivers reacted to some invisible signal and jumped into action. The passengers on the other ‘raft’’ were instructed to ‘disembark’ as the drivers quickly dismantled the raft, removing it from the track and we were on our way, leaving the other raft to reassemble and carry on.
I can only equate this experience to what it must feel like to be on a magic carpet, and strongly recommend that anyone who finds themselves in Battambang, Cambodia, give it a go!
- Shan Routledge