Battambang ended up being one of those places we couldn’t seem to leave. At first glance, the town doesn’t have much to offer save for a ride on the famous bamboo train, but we had some of our most memorable Cambodian experiences venturing out into the surrounding countryside and catching a breath-taking circus performance. I felt we really caught a glimpse of ‘true’ Cambodia during our stay in Battambang.

Sometimes the part of travel I love the most is just the movement. It’s getting up in the morning, packing our bags and boarding a bus to a brand new, unknown destination with no idea what’s in store for us. This particular morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I was bunged-up with a cold and my head pounded as I climbed aboard the bus to the tiny, riverside town of Kampot.
It is the faces that haunt me; the faces in the rows of black and white photographs hung throughout S21 prison. Almost all the people in those pictures, whether young or old, male or female, were tortured and starved in the prison before being sent to the killing fields to be executed. I was horribly mesmerised by those faces and their expressions; while some people wore their terror so visibly, others looked merely stunned, or angry and defiant - many were simply blank and devoid of emotion. I am haunted by the thought of what happened to those people; did they know when those pictures were taken that they’d been sentenced to death?
With a final, gurgling burst of smoke, our bus gave up its battle for survival and collapsed by the side of the road. As the engine cut off, the air-con died and the heat immediately began to thicken. If we didn’t get off now we’d be cooked. Huffing and puffing,  I filed out into the harsh glare of sunlight onto a barren, dusty stretch of road to wait for a replacement bus. This was the second day in a row that we’d experienced a breakdown and I was well and truly fed up. What happened next, however, unexpectedly turned my mood around and reminded me of just why I love Cambodia.
One of the things we can’t quite get used to in Asia is the corruption which forms an ordinary part of everyday life here. From knock-off goods to rigged taxi meters and other tourist scams, travelling is a whole different ball game here compared to in regulation-crazy Europe. While we’re now resigned to the fact that we’ll be charged tourist prices everywhere we go, we’ve found that making overland border crossings in South-East Asia presents some of the most frustrating examples of corruption.
One of the best ways to catch a glimpse of life in Asia is to take a ride in a tuk tuk. As your driver speeds dangerously and weaves through stationary traffic you’ll experience the true sights, sounds and smells of Asia. It’s likely that you’ll be assaulted with the smell of exhaust fumes, rubbish rotting in the sun, meat cooking on open fires, incense and fruits from market stalls; your ears will be filled with the sounds of beeping horns, the calls of market sellers, the thrum of music from nearby shops, monks chanting, the crowing of roosters and the barks of stray dogs.