Battambang is known for its bamboo train, and yet I haven’t seen it at all. What I did see were the caves, both of graves and of bats. The caves of Battambang bridge life and dead.
At the one hand there are the killing caves together with the pagoda’s, the sacred life side by side with death.
The Killing Caves are one of the many landmarks in Cambodia that mark Cambodia’s history. The caves nearby the city of Battambang were used by the Khmer Rouge to destroy and burry – or better simply leave behind – the enemies of the system. Almost all of the people that deviated from the typical farmer profile– from former city dwellers to teacher and doctors – were considered as potential treats to the regime. Hence, the Khmer Rouge did not save means nor men to found them, interrogate them, torture them, and eventually kill them.
Too many people of Cambodia find their last destination in these caves – or in other so-called killing fields – mass graves as the last way to break their individuality and conform them with the targeted purified Cambodian potential revolutionary. Pol Pot created a profile of the perfect, purified Cambodian and every deviated element was to be destroyed, often together with its entire family and relatives, even though if that were but innocent babies.
On top of the killing caves stands a Buddhist temple, which once served as a prison, the last stage before the killing caves. Nowadays I can see monks giving classes, praying, and practising Buddhism. Life continues, as it was before.
Batman – Super Hero or Small Heroes
Nearby the killing caves are the bat caves. Every night millions of bats fly out the caves, when sun sets, the bats wake up. It cannot be more symbolic, since bats often represent death. If they are not the deaths coming to life, at least they are the bloody vampires looking for living victims to bite and pull over into the underworld. I go thinking too much, but it might be luguber to watch millions of bats flying out of a cave where millions of people got killed – not only in this cave, but in the entire country -.
And yet, as you might remember of my blogpost on the cave hike in the Philippines, bats have more to do with live than with dead as a matter of fact. In the Philippines their poo is used as strong, organic fertilizer. Here, in Cambodia, in specific, the bats serve the agriculture in another meaningful and crucial way.
When they fly out after sunset, they are hungry after having slept the entire day. In contrast to the fairy tales and scary movies, they are not looking for fresh human blood, but they are looking for insects. The same insects that threaten the crops of the region of Battambang. A bat apparently eats every day the equivalent of its own weight in insects, or about 15 grams. Hence, multiply 15 grams with the 3.5 million of bats in this particular bat caves and you’ve got a huge pile of insects, don’t you?
Do the Bat
Hence, bats are genius for the agriculture, I would say. Their poo does not only serve as a organic fertilizer, but bats theirselves serve as an organic pesticide as well. So be honest, shouldn’t we all do the bat instead of pooring chemical substances in our soil and on our crops?