Forgoing the cheese board for one night, we head up to Battambang’s bat cave. This was the hotel’s recommendation and it is very much at a limit of a tuk-tuk ride, around 15 miles each way, that we would want to do safely on a busy main road.
After 45 minutes on bumpy roads in a tuk-tuk, it feels like our bones are being shaken out of their sockets, but we do arrive in time for the main event.
Hundreds of bats are emerging from their cave every second and fly off into the distance to get their mossie dinner in a massive line stretching for miles. They then split off into groups of only a few thousand (!) that look like rain clouds. It reminds us of an extreme version of the murmeration of starlings displays at dusk back home at Vauxhall.
There is mass squeaking from the bats, but most of the noise is from bewildered and amazed tourists and locals just saying “wow!”. It is estimated that there are approximately five million of them. Blimey.
As with almost everything in Cambodia, there is also sadness and ingenuity. The caves themselves were used for particularly horrible events during the Khmer Rouge days, but now, the enterprising owner of the cave scoops up bat crap and makes his fortune selling it as fertiliser.
It feels inadequate to say what we saw last night was truly an awesome sight. All we need is a David Attenborough voiceover and we’d be watching, a live “Life on Earth” documentary. The video and photos show a tiny part of the natural show we saw although the dusk sky and the speed of the bats make any decent visual record almost impossible.
An hour of our lives we’ll never forget.