Often overlooked in favor of some of Cambodia’s bigger cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, the sleepy river town of Battambang has a lot going for it – namely, when we first arrived, we were pleased to see that in general people were a lot friendlier, and the atmosphere was a bit more laidback. We checked into a lovely backpacker hostel called Here Be Dragons, which features cool artwork (of dragons, of course) on the walls, and had themed nights every day of the week – from cult movies on the roof to sampling of local wines and cocktails.
The night market on the western bank of the Sangkher River is also a very relaxed place to watch children swimming and to catch a cheap $1 bowl of traditional Khmer Noodles.
There are a number of cooking classes in Battambang, but the newest (and smallest) is one called Lyly Coconut – the owner, Lyly, is a fresh-faced kid who spent several years training in Siem Reap. Unlike the other cooking classes, he limits his classes to between 6 and 8 people, making for a much more fun and intimate experience as he pointed out herbs and local vegetables. For a going rate of $10, the three hour course covers 4 different items, ranging from fish amok (you have to fashion your own box out of banana leaves) to sour chicken soup.