The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Battambang’s Bamboo Train: Cambodia’s wildest ride?

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 04•10

Rush hour in Battambang, as two bamboo trains stack up

Watch two short videos of the bamboo train on the move and being assembled It’s not listed in the guidebooks and there are other similar trains in Cambodia, but for a couple of hours of fun in the countryside, it’s hard to beat this narrow gauge “local.”  The carriage is a flat wooden frame of woven bamboo that hauls perhaps 8 people with baggage, sitting on steel wheels removed from the tracks of junked army tanks.  It’s powered by a Honda four-stroke engine common in Asia.  When the driver pulls up on the wooden stick, a band of old tire rubber engages the axels, and you’re off! 

When two trains moving in opposite directions meet, the train with the heaviest load has the right-of-way.  After the passengers of the lighter train of the lighter train remove their luggage, and both drivers then carry the bamboo frame, wheels, and engine off the track to let the other train proceed. 

The narrow gauge tracks originally guided small trains that ran between plantations, but were junked by the Khmer Rouge.  To get to the “station”, ask at your hotel in Battambang, and you’ll be taken by car or motorbike to a spot a kilometer or two out of town.  Total distance to the “terminal” is 11 km, but you can get off anywhere and flag down a return train.  Trains run when the bamboo mat is full of passengers and cargo, rarely longer than every ten minutes. Fare is approximately $2 USD (locals pay less) for an experience that’s hard to beat.

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