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Cambodia forum

the bamboo train

Posted by Beavis on 21/8/2010 at 16:46

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norry
according to this source the bamboo train route should have extended from Battambang to the Thailand boarder. Can any1 confirm its completion for me please? hopefully there were no delays and corrupt interventions!

My friends and i would really like to ride this bamboo train to another country and then perhaps take a bus from the boarder further into thailand. thanks for your time ! safe travels.

#1 Beavis has been a member since 21/8/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by Archmichael on 21/8/2010 at 21:29

It is my understanding that the bamboo train is no longer running.

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Posted by eastwest on 22/8/2010 at 10:36

I find this very hard to believe.

What I do know is that an australian company is currently rebuilding the railway tracks in Cambodia and a french company will operate trains on them in the near future (1-2 years).

Perhaps the bamboo train takes advantage of this for the moment but it won't be a sustainable thing.
I can also not imagine that you would enjoy it if you had to be "pumped" all the way to Thailand. Unless you have some sort of odd colonial interests and like to watch locals sweat in the blazing sun for you. Even with a small generator onboard it wouldn't be that comfortable and very noisy.

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Posted by MADMAC on 22/8/2010 at 11:35

"Unless you have some sort of odd colonial interests and like to watch locals sweat in the blazing sun for you."

If it's hot chicks sweating while dancing salsa with me, then it's cool. Otherwise... no.

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Posted by eastwest on 22/8/2010 at 16:32

Ok, you got me there. If that had been the case I also wouldn't be sitting here behind my computer but on that ride yes....

I guess one could also rent a cyclo and ask to be taken to Thailand. I wonder what the cyclo-driver will say.....

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Posted by Sarah23 on 22/8/2010 at 18:17

We were in Battambang in July and went for a ride on the bamboo train (operated a diesel engine so no sweaty operators). It's not really used for communting, just for a fun 20 minute tourist trip (and it really was heaps of fun) and transporting supplies between villages. We were told that from September it won't be running anymore for either purpose due to the new train tracks being laid. It is a bit of a shame as it was definitely unique.

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Posted by eastwest on 22/8/2010 at 19:14

You are right and I was perhaps a bit too much joking about the whole thing.

I think the bamboo train is a great testament to the abillity of man (and in this case khmer) to adapt to circumstances.
It should be preserved and hopefully they will built a short track so it can continue. It will then turn into a tourist attraction (which it somehow was already) but in some cases that can be positive. The alternative being that it completely disappears.

I don't think a journey from Battambang to the Thai border (150 km or so) is either comfortable or feasible (it's not designed for long distances). Nor do I think the operator has any interest in doing this. But I guess if offered enough money he would do it and good for him if can make some good money out of it in his last years.

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Posted by KazAussie on 24/8/2010 at 14:28

Good grief ... no way you would want to do the bamboo train to the border, it is just a fun touristy thing to do for the hour or so it takes. That said if you are in Battambang do go for a ride.

Have a look at this video to see what the bamboo train is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDMqlgX_FuE&p=361FE43B5796F656&playnext=1&index=11

You disassemble and re-assemble the "train" every time something comes in the opposite direction.

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Posted by Beavis on 26/8/2010 at 10:59

HAHAHa thanks for the responses guys ! a three hour or so uncomfortable ride to the boarder was somewhat what me and my pals were looking for ! if it did require pumping we woulda helped out as well and take shifts or something. I guess we'll just hope for the best when we get there, are there any other unique activities you guys could suggest to us in those areas (Vietnam, Cambo, Thai). Some "Must Dos" Much appreciated. =]

#9 Beavis has been a member since 21/8/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by eastwest on 27/8/2010 at 14:14

It seems that you and your friends have peculiar interests for your holiday so this is a bit difficult.
You would like to sweat, be uncomfortable and meet some locals? Let me think.....

- Break rocks in a stone quarry
- Plant rice with some farmers
- Go fishing on a local boat on the coast. Spearfishing in shallow water for prawns is also great. Give that a try.

If you want to move forward while sweating I can think of buying a Cyclo and then take turns. It's something I am actually seriously considering. Cyclos aren't that expensive to buy and there are lots of drivers who would like to sell (to buy a moto) since the government is making it harder for the cyclos to operate.

Other than that I can not be really helpful
good luck!

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Posted by Beavis on 28/8/2010 at 15:29

The cyclo sounds a bit too romantic for us haha but the fishing on a local boat and SPEARfishing is definitely something we want to try! thanks !

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Posted by Tennouji on 31/8/2010 at 17:55

I had a 10 minute ride on it and that was more than enough for my poor bum and back. Certainly was a tourist trap: 5 dollars as I was the only one around and my cycle guy was so sure that I must want to do it!

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Posted by MADMAC on 1/9/2010 at 10:12

The "Cyclos" will be back in vogue as the price of oil climbs. The higher it climbs, the more they will be in vogue.

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Posted by Wozzer on 4/11/2010 at 13:04

Lots of rumors about the demise of the Bamboo Train abound!

As of last weekend (end Oct 2010) it was alive and well. Should be operating for maybe another year or so.

Here's a wordpress article and video I created that explains more...

Happy travels!

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Posted by eastwest on 4/11/2010 at 19:32

on a related note

Recently freight trains have started riding between Kampot and Phnom Penh. As for now it's only freight trains (mostly cement cargo) and they will extend towards Sihanoukville in the near future.
They started with a (literal) bang: on the first test run a truck smashed into the test train at a crossing and derailed the train.
Passenger trains are in the pipeline for this route which will be a great train ride through beautiful scenery. My guess is that the passenger trains will take a few more years since stations haven't been rebuilt yet but it's something to look forward to

Battambang route is also planned for but that will probably take much longer so the bamboo train will probably be around for a few years.

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Posted by Archmichael on 4/11/2010 at 20:40

Great little video, Wozzer. We're headed that way in January and are glad to hear the bamboo train is still around. "One more year" ... give or take a year or two. :)

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Posted by kiaraangus on 5/11/2010 at 05:54

as posted in Phnom Pehn Post OCT 22nd

The first line of the railway from Phnom Pehn to Kampot was officially declared open at a ceremony held this morning, three weeks after freight services commenced to and from the costal province.

Toll Global Logistics CEO Wayne Hunt said that though freight remained the first priority of the company, a spirit of agreement had been forged between his company and the government as the two parties worked toward resuming passenger service.

“It will happen, it’s just a matter of time,” he said, but cautioned that the service would have to be demand-driven.

A steady increase in tourists would likely contribute to demand for the passenger service, he said.


- from this i gather we could be riding in a few months. Ill be in the area next week so ill try and sus it out, see if i cant score a few KM.

#17 kiaraangus has been a member since 25/10/2010. Posts: 13

Posted by mattocmd on 5/11/2010 at 12:28

I am in Battambang now and have talked to two different tourist police officers, several locals and tuk-tuk drivers. According to them, it will close forever by the end of the year.

It's an Australian company that is developing the railway. I doubt they are going to sit on their investment and delay it for any longer. I understand that this is Cambodia, things usually don't go exactly as planned but this is foreign investment.

If anyone has heard differently (from a reliable source) please let me know via this thread.

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Posted by kiaraangus on 5/11/2010 at 15:28

mattocmd- are they referring to the PP- Kampot (newly re-tracked) line; or the (dying for years) PP to Battambang line? And are you saying that PP post is unreliable? or myself?
or replying to OP- and talking about the bamboo train :that would make sense as real trains will be running again (eventually) on this section of track.

#19 kiaraangus has been a member since 25/10/2010. Posts: 13

Posted by mattocmd on 5/11/2010 at 15:46

I'm not saying you or anyone is unreliable.

What myself and the tourism police are referring to are the nories (mini trains a main attraction in Battambang). Hmm maybe I was confused and thought the OP was talking about that.

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Posted by kiaraangus on 5/11/2010 at 16:23

yeah you were right. most likely on both. OP was talking about smaller trains and they will go as the big ones will soon be back. i wonder if they will use the old ones: from what i hear they are the old QLD freights from AUS and were covered in old graffiti- id love to know if this is correct.

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Posted by eastwest on 5/11/2010 at 16:44

matt,

A close friend of mine works at the australian embassy, which is closely involved since they cough up most of the money for the project, and this is my (and hers) take on it.

First of all the article is mainly about the PP-Kampot line although I haven't read the article myself I must admit.

There is certainly a concrete plan to develop the PP-Battambang line but no timeschedule has been set for that, yet. As far as I know.
I don't know whether Kiara's last remark (about a few more months for passenger trains for PP-Kampot) was sarcastic but that certainly is not the case. It's a plan/intention but nothing more than that.

Regarding PP-Battambang route. The australian company is working fast once they start on the project. Once they've decided that they will start they will quickly take away the old tracks which would be the end of the nories. When the new tracks are put in place they probably won't allow any nories on it anymore and as happened on the PP-Kampot line, quickly the bigger trains will take possesion of the tracks.
Perhaps the original plan that was submitted mentioned such a timeline if they had to mention timelines for the project so those stories could be based on (partial) truth.

Last comment about old graffiti trains is not correct. I've seen the freight trains several times with my own eyes: bright yellow and from the outside they look very decent.

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Posted by mattocmd on 5/11/2010 at 17:01

Makes sense. Thanks for clearing it up.

With or without nories, BB is still a great destination!

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Posted by eastwest on 5/11/2010 at 17:34

Does BB have any construction material that you know off?
It is/was the leading reason for the PP-Kampot line. The Kampot/Kep region has a few big cement factories and the whole idea was to develop the train line for more efficient transport and avoid wear and tear on the cambodian roads.

From what I've been told the extension to Sihanoukville is first to be done and then the BB area. And it's not a purely commercial thing. A lot of australian development money from which some australian companies will benefit without a doubt.

Furthermore I think the australian mining companies may have a lot of influence. From what I've read exploration mining seems to have produced good results and extraction should be starting in a few years.

So, if you have a mine or cement factory nearby the BB line will be inevitable.

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