Border Crossing Madness

Other posts on Visa Madness were posted in October, Just recently, as well as Here and There.

Last weekend was nearing the date when my visa would expire, so I needed to get a Re-Entry stamp. This means I have to cross a border, get a departure stamp in my passport, and then re-enter, effectively activating my second 2 month visa. This can be done free-of-cost on the same day, if you so desire.

As odd as it sounds, this is the way most SouthEast Asian countries handle immigration. I needed a stamp that said I left, but I already had freedom to stay another 2 months free of charge or paperwork. No I could not extend my stay [okay, I could – bit only by 7 days and that cost $60]. No I could not pay a fee to activate the next 2 month visa. No I could not visit immigration and do anything to change the situation.

I had considered a trip to Myanmar over Christmas, but then my re-entry would start my 2 month countdown too early and it would expire before the end of my probationary period. All of this to explain why I found myself on a bus heading to Cambodia Saturday morning.

The Cambodian border and town of Poipet is a 3-5 hr drive from Bangkok, and this border has the needed immigration checkpoints. Which means that getting there is a cinch, everyone within 20 miles knows where to point confused foreigners with a passport and camera and there are approximately 3,500 scans going on in the general vicinity.

I hate mornings. Thus I took the 8:30 am bus, versus the 6:15 option, from Bangkok to “te bodah” (aka The border). Internet went out at my house that morning, so I didn’t get to finish reading the blogs about safety and immigration procedure at this particular border. Well. Everyone living there probably relied on the border for their income, and I am becoming wise to scams, so off I set.

Amazingly, the ticket booth sold roundtrip, sameday tickets for under 11$. Giving myself 4 hours to get there, 4 hours for immigration fussing and wandering, I chose the last bus home – 4:30 pm.

The trip wasn’t comfortable, but the only thing of note that happened was that I woke myself up sleeptalking.

Got to “te bodah” and realized once again, I do not think like a Thai. The bus stop – with shopping! – is 3-4 kilometers from immigration. I had purposefully asked the ticket booth woman about walking to the border, she said it was doable. Now…just to find out where I actually needed to go….I asked the woman who confirmed my return ticket.

Her: Immigration? That far. You take tuk-tuk or motorcycle.
Me: Okay, but I want to walk. Which direction is it?
Her: Better you take motorcycle.
Me: Okay. Maybe. But. Let me look first. Which road?
Her: Which…road? Motorcycle right here, ma’am.
Me: Okay…I just want to see first. If I go outside, do I go left or right on the big road?
Her: Immigration…you take…left [said in Thai, but I do know directions – Thank God!].
Me: Okay…and then. Where do I turn? Which road to immigration?
Her: Any road. You go any way.

I gave up and took a motorcycle taxi.

As I left, I saw a group of my fellow bus-riders, all Foreign from a few.countries. They had refused the tuk-tuk, the motorcycle and the guide to walk them to the border. We hadn’t spoken, but I could hear them loudly discussing how to move forward, and how best they would avoid the overpriced hulligans I was paying to take me to the border. Overpriced or not, I’m pretty sure I got there first.

The border awaited…


3 thoughts on “Border Crossing Madness

  1. Pingback: Border Crossing (crazy) Hope « My adventures abroad…

  2. Pingback: Border Crossing Chaos « My adventures abroad…

  3. Pingback: Border Crossing Insanity « My adventures abroad…

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