I had made the trip to Cambodia for the trains. Not only the Bamboo Train, but the regular rail service too, which after more than ten years off the rails, had begun to roll again – all the way from the Thai border across the steamy Mekong in Phnom Penh, to the golden sands of the island studded south.
The line cuts through the rural heart of the country and bisects the busy capital– both places most tourists rushing between Angkor Wat and the Indian Ocean never visit.
I took the train to find the real Cambodia – from the sleepy rice paddy landscapes and local towns to the booming city.
I’d discover forgotten temples, hidden Thai and French colonial towns, pepper plantations, steaming rivers and beach-fringed islands.
I began my journey at the start of the line – rumbling out of the scruffy Thai border town of Poi Pet, past parked trucks and untidy market stalls covered in cheap Thai and Chinese goods.
The carriage was almost empty – just me, an old man with a chicken, and a black bin liner for a suitcase, and a young Finnish couple with shiny new backpacks and the latest iPhones.