21 May 2017

Le Petit Train 28.04.17

Le Petit Train, Phom Penh - Kampot 

Taking the train in Cambodia is a tourist attraction in itself. Similarly to Laos the rural parts of the country have been too dangerous to develop at the same rate of the larger cities due to un-exploded ordnance, and so there is still only one major train line operating today. I've read that there are plans in the pipeline to expand on this, however as it stands the nation is limited to a four stop service that runs (drum roll please) three times each way a week and carries (further drum roll) 100 passengers each way.

It's not only the timetable that's retro, but the machinery too. At 3pm on a rainy Friday afternoon we boarded a shiny white and blue train that looked as though it had tumbled right out of a kinder egg; small, kitsch and an absolute treat. After chugging along through picturesque Cambodian countryside for a few hours a man appeared from the driver's cabin and gave an announcement over megaphone. He told us that at the next stop we would have 10 minutes to stretch our legs along the tracks and buy a selection of snacks from local vendors. As we pulled into the tiny station around 10 locals and their families excitedly began fussing over their stalls and waving frantically at the second and last set of passengers they would be serving that day. They were selling a delicious mix of BBQ meats, sweet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits and vegetable chips. We enjoyed vegetable chips, fresh pineapple and some hard boiled eggs with a salt and pepper mixture that came wrapped up in somebodies algebra homework! 

We arrived at our stop in Kampot after 6 charming hours of travel. I never thought I would write '6 hours of travel' and 'charming' in the same sentence, but there you have it! Perhaps some imagery will justify my words... 

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