Bamboo train, or as the locals name it ‘nori’, is one of the world all-time classic rail journeys. Tourists can only try it in Battambang in North-western Cambodia. Many foreigners find it much amusing because of quirky experiences it brings to.
The tracks run for 320km through the heart of the country, the capital Phnom Penh, but the tracks have laid in abandon and disrepair since the late of 1970’s, meaning the bamboo ride only runs 7km in length to a brick-making village nearby and back. Cambodia holidays
The structure of a nori is quite simple: Each bamboo train consists of a 3 meter-long wood frame, covered lengthwise with slats, wheels underneath and a small tractor engine/ motorcycle at the end. Drivers might also lay out a straw mat and some pillows for tourists’ convenience. Read more: travel to Cambodia
After a few pulls and one bottle or two of gasoline, the engine sputters and your uneven 7-mile journey now sets off.
You would rather not expect much for some sorts of intriguing scenery when you are on the way. Both sides are covered with lush greenery but the setting is nothing compared to the experience waiting ahead.
The moment the motor starts running, you soon grip anything you can get your hands on as the speed can reach to 40 miles per hour. Do not forget to put your backpacks down because you are on a quite rough road. The bumpy and bone-shaking travel is something you might have not tried before.
The driver is also your tour guide during the trip. He or she might tell you about how the rails were built in the 19th century by the French and have been forgotten since the age of Khmer Rouge Regime in 1970’s.
There is at least one more unexpected experience you may have. Simple construction and light weight mean that the nori maybe simply removed from the track – if two meet on the line, the one with the lighter load is unloaded, lifted and carried round the other, and at the end of the track the vehicle is lifted and turned.
If you look for a convenient trip, bamboo train cannot meet the demand. But if you yearn for an exciting experience which is little adventurous, simple, bizarre, exhilarating and cheap in Cambodia’s countryside, this one is right for you.
The Indochina Voyages team.