Sitting on the Sangker River just south west of the Tonle Sap Lake, Battambang town is at the heart of Cambodia's 'rice bowl', and even though it is the country's second biggest town, it still has a very local, untouristed, provincial atmosphere. Much of the architecture is French colonial and traditional Cambodian. Few buildings are over three stories, and the main streets are shared by cars and horse carts alike. Unlike more touristed towns, the local economy is truly local - based firmly in rice, wood, sapphires and food crops - and is reflected in the character of the town. Similarly, as you leave Battambang by road, the scene quickly becomes one of small villages, rice paddies, and farmland, offering an excellent opportunity for the visitor to see a bit of 'unspoiled' rural Cambodia. The nearby countryside also harbors old pagodas, Angkorian era ruins, caves, waterfalls, and even Khmer Rouge period killing fields. Battambang means ‘disappearing stick’, and is named after a powerful stick used by a legendary Khmer king to achieve and maintain power in the Battambang area.