Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Cambodia : Cardamom and Elephant Mountains : Pursat
Pursat is the capital of western Cambodia's Pursat province. It is indistinguishable from Cambodia's other small provincial capitals. This sleepy town has marginal interest for non-Khmer speakers, though may have appeal to those wanting to see Cambodia without tourists.
Fully paved National Highway 5 runs northwest from Phnom Penh via Pursat to the county's second largest city, Battambang. All buses between Battambang ($2.50 from Pursat) and Phnom Penh ($5 from Pursat) will stop here. Buses run every half-hour in the morning and early afternoon. Buses take 4 hours to Phnom Penh and 1.5 hours to Battambang. All the major bus companies service Phnom Penh. Sorya and Capitol Tour are the most reliable big names. Capitol Tour runs the lastest afternoon departure from Phnom Penh at 2:00pm, and sometimes 3:00pm.
Central Pursat is easily covered foot. Motodops hang around the market, bus stations, train station, and sometimes along the highway. A ride anywhere in town should cost around 1,000 riel. A day trip to Kampong Luang or elsewhere can be negotiated for $5 or more. The occasional tuk tuk can also be found. The Phnom Pech Hotel rents small motorbikes by the day and half-day.
Like all of Cambodia's former railway towns, Pursat hosts a charming French-built railway station that has decayed into a slum, which gives the area an interesting vibe. The railway is currently being restored, with services to resume in 2013.
Walking the town will let its provincial dusty chams shine on any visitor. Children will scream "hello" at any passing tourist. Locals may invite you for some food or karaoke. As in Battambang, there is a "bamboo train".
Common to any society that has emerged from food shortages, provincial Cambodia lacks a culture that reveres cuisine and instead favours sustanance. In short, don't expect more than a cheap meal rice and some gristly meat. Stalls and cafes around town offer similar nondescript human fuel.
The Phnom Pech Hotel