Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Surviving the Cambodian Border crossing!

We got the train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet the morning we left for Cambodia. From the station we got an onward tuktuk to the border town of Poipet. Very aware of the massive corruption at this border crossing we were on high alert! We were delighted when the seemingly lovely lady driver dropped us off at a very official looking office, avoiding the dreaded touts/con men. So we went in and began filling out the usual forms.

After we had finished the agent then asked for our fee which he quoted in baht. I was completely confused as I expected to pay in dollars and was unsure of the conversion. Something told me this guy wasn't genuine so I stopped him and waited until I dug my phone out of my bag and checked the currency conversion. The bugger was charging us twice the price!! Even though we were sitting in a legitimate looking government office it was indeed a scam! Disgusted, I grabbed back our documents and passports and we left. I felt bad for a Japanese girl sitting at the other end of the room, who with little english, had just handed over her money and was issued the false visa.

Walking back onto the road one locals realised we had sussed out what was happening in there. He directed us to the official office at the end of the road. We found the office, filled in new forms and went to the guard to pay our fee. The visa costs $20 per person and he also asked for an extra 100baht pp as an unexplained fee that we just had to pay. I knew this was bullshit so I explained to him very nicely (after all he decides if you enter the country!) that I knew the correct fee for us should be $40. I presented him the money with both hands (the polite way to give and receive things in Cambodia.) He said nothing more and gave our passports to another official to be stamped.

Even the actual officials are corrupt! I know 100 baht isn't much but I just didn't want to give it up as a matter of principle. The couple before us and after us all gave him the extra money, he must make an absolute fortune every day!

Anyway, we were both very pleased to have survived one of the most notoriously corrupt border crossings of S.E Asia!!

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