And when we finally, reluctantly, finished playing at the first of the days three temples we got back in our tuk-tuk and headed to the winery (apparently the only one of it’s kind in Cambodia).
The winery was a nice stop and a chance to sit and relax in the shade for a while as by now it was mid-day and rather hot. Again, as we had managed to come in the tourism off season (quite fortuitously) there where not many people around (this may also have to do with Battambang not being that high on many tourists’ lists of destinations, although I consider this a mistake for anyone who overlooks the city and surrounding area). In fact, I believe we were the only visitors there. The winery is a small place and uses grapes from a number of vineyards situated nearby. The wine we tasted was very smoky but nevertheless quite pleasant and I purchased a bottle as a present for my Dad. I’m not sure if he drunk it or what he thought of it (or the Kampot pepper that I bought back with me to England shortly after completing our Cambodian trip) but I figured it would be a fairly unique gift regardless.
There was also some locally made apple juice although they were all out of the apple brandy that is their other main product.
We didn’t stay too long at the winery, we had a look around, tasted some wine and apple juice, bought a bottle each of the wine and then headed on to the second temple of the day on the top of a cliff, relatively nearby.
The temple, called Phnom Banan, is situated on the top of a cliff/hill and is accessible via a set of rather steep stairs, which in the heat of a Cambodian day can prove rather tiresome. I believe the temple is about 800 to 1000 years old and compared to Ek Phnom it’s in a fairly good state of repair.
Upon reaching the top we decided to have a look around and as we were wandering in amongst the ruins we noticed a small child watching us, whenever we turned to look at her she would instantly hide behind the nearest ruined bit of wall or temple. Eventually I decided to hide as well and managed to sneak up on her causing her to run and hide behind Persy, where she kept peering round and then hiding again whenever I turned to look.
We had brought some provisions with us for the day as we were expecting to be out in the countryside for a while and so we decided that now would be a good time for something approaching a picnic. We invited our new friend to come and eat with us and she eventually accepted some bread. In the end she followed us around the temple, mostly doing something akin to playing hide and seek and only left as we got in our tuk-tuk and had to say goodbye. I don’t think she ever said a single word, I don’t know if she was just mute or shy, although just like the kids at the first temple she seems just content to find some people to play with.
The temple itself isn’t too big although the hill it’s on affords great views of the surrounding Cambodian country. Cambodia, or at least large swathes of it, appear to be almost entirely flat except for a few isolated hills which rise out of the surrounding countryside at infrequent intervals. I think I remember reading somewhere that during the wet season when the Tonle Sap lake swells and the fields are all submerged a fish can swim from one side of Cambodia to the other, as the countryside is so flat that almost everything is under just enough water (except the roads and houses, which are mostly built on stilts) for a fish to go almost anywhere it wants.
After we finished looking around the temple and admiring the views of the countryside disappearing off into the horizon we headed down to our waiting tuk-tuk, accompanied by our new friend and headed off to the third temple of the day, which was significantly more modern that the other two, having been built over the last few decades and is named Phnom Sampeau (I think I’ve already mentioned that Phnom means hill in Khmer, although if I haven’t then that’s what it means, Wat, incidentally, is the word for temple).