In the North West of Cambodia, kind of off the usual backpackers route is a small town called Battambang ( pronounced battanbong, by the locals).
Battambang is the capital of the region and known for a few things; rice production, circus and the bamboo train. All of which I visited whilst staying in Battambang. You couldn’t quiet believe it from looking around that this area use to be a major commercial hub (100 years ago).
Just like other places in Cambodia there is a distinct colonial French style among the buildings as well as the usual river running through the centre. Every night you can see the street food stalls line the river with people doing aerobics and karate in between!
The bamboo train (also known as a norry) is one of the musts to do if you are in the area. You ride a few kilometers down a rail track, literally on slates of bamboo and a thin plastic rug. But don’t let me put you off, it is sturdy as you can reach up to 40km/hr.
There is only one track, which accommodates a two way journey. So the rule of thumb is, the train will less people have to get off the track and shift to one side, allowing the other train to pass! After 20 minutes (or so) you arrive in a little village which is obviously directed to tourist selling braclets, clothes and cold drinks.
One tip, wear glasses and keep you mouth shut! Also try to go early evening as it is slightly cooler- but it can get slightly busy.
Finally the circus of Battambang, it is world known and apparently the #1 thing to do according to trip advisor. This circus was formed by the arts and eduction foundation to help children of the area. It has grown due to donations and now includes so many areas of the arts ( performing art, animation, graphic design, kindergarten). About 3-4 times each week a performance is done in the evening, lasting about an hour, in which time I couldn’t stop staring. An incredible experience and a great evening activity.