Harriet Fitch Little and Vandy Muong
The Phnom Penh Post, Sat, 24 October 2015
With plans to use the tracks for a real railway, the iconic bamboo train looks set to be derailed – though when exactly is unclear
In the nameless hamlet that awaits tourists at the end of the Battambang bamboo train’s single-track line — reached at breakneck speeds on improvised bamboo platforms powered by motorbike engines — the ground is thick with mud and the view of rice fields is obscured by scrubby trees.
Two dozen shacks offer soft drinks, sunglasses and faded T-shirts branded with the slogan “Off the Rails” to the tourists who stop there briefly before making the return trip.
According to Uch Omthiny Sara, director of the Battambang Tourism Department, 80 per cent of visitors to Battambang make the hour-long round trip to this uninspiring village. But it’s the journey, not the destination, that draws them in droves.