Over the past few months of travelling, I’ve done many overland border crossings; which have been trouble free. You get to the border, get ‘stamped out’ of one country, then walk to the next, hand in a form and passport, a fee (sometimes), get a stamp and away you go.
The overland border crossings into Cambodia, are often not that simple. I’ve heard of various scams happening at Poipet (Thailand-Cambodia). I had also been warned of the goings on at the Laos-Cambodia border. I was told about overcharging, and ‘additional charges’, so on my bus from The Four Thousand Islands, I was mentally preparing myself.
I was given advice to sort out my own visa, and was very much ready to do this. However, as the bus station, a Filipino lady who had apparently just crossed the border the other way, was filling people’s heads with stories of tourists being charged US$60 plus, when a Visa should only cost US$20.
She advised everyone to have a man from the travel agency get our visas for us, as it would be quicker and cheaper. Virtually everyone handed their passports over, and paid US$30, along with a photo. I soon realised that she was probably working for the agency also.
I wasn’t so sure, and decided to keep hold of mine, but started to fill in the forms to make it quicker.
Many of the people around me said I’d be stupid to do it myself, and that ‘the whole bus was going through the agency’ and I’d be holding everyone up.
So, I caved. I gave in my passport, paid the fee and we left on a bus to the border.
We walked freely from the Laos side, without a word, and then entered ‘no mans land’. I saw the sign saying welcome to Cambodia, and thought I was home and dry. except moments from the border were several people dressed in nurses uniforms, they shouted at everyone to get in line for a health check. I was acutely aware of the Ebola crisis, but had also heard of thus health check happening before, as recent as two years ago. Apparently if you are sick (this is confirmed by waving a toy like gun in your face), you had to go into quarantine, and pay whatever they decided, with a promise that you would go to the nearest medical clinic.
Biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever heard.
I got through though, and then the long wait began. we got our passports back with a Cambodian stamp nicely printed inside it. I checked that all the details were correct, and they were.
I later heard from a German couple who had just paid US$26 to get through. so I was scammed out of $4 before I even made it to the country.
We were then told that our bus would leave in 10 minutes, it was another two hours. The front windscreen was smashed up, not everyone had a seat, and the road from the border to Kratie, Cambodia was one of the worst I had been on to date.
if you are planning on crossing from Laos to Cambodia. make sure you do the visa stuff yourself, and be prepared fro a rough bus ride onward to anywhere in Cambodia.
Have you had any border crossing nightmare stories. I would love to hear them.