Crossing the border from Laos into Cambodia was not the
easiest, or the most pleasant, of experiences. In fact, it was a downright
nightmare. For your convenience, we have decided to share our secrets of
misery. Behold the list of surefire ways to ruin your own border crossing. Pay
Believe everything you read on the internet
regarding transport of vehicles, especially motorbikes, across borders. It is
very important to get as much information as you can pertaining to this
particular situation. Check out Lonely Planet and various southeast Asia biking
websites. They will promise that you can take your bikes across the border, and
you will believe them. Soon enough, you will find out you cannot, no matter how
much bribing you do, because when you actually need border officials to be
corrupt, they won’t be.
Return to town to sell your bikes. This will
ruin your plans for nearly the rest of your trip, or at least the next few
months, but really, what choice do you have? As a bonus, hordes of townspeople
will gather to paw at the bikes, twisting knobs, scratching at paint, smelling
the exhaust pipe, with no intention of purchasing them. You then have to deal with
false hope for a few hours. If for some reason your conscience is doing ok at
the moment, try promising the bike to someone, and while he is away to get the
money, sell the bike—for less money—to someone else. After all, you need to catch that tuk-tuk back
to the border now.
Make sure to do all of the above in the
blistering heat of midday, without any lunch.
When you arrive at the border for the second
time, do ensure that the man at the counter is the one you had a shouting match
with earlier in the day when he promised to buy both bikes, made you wait for
him to eat lunch, and then told you never mind. He will be ever so glad to see
you, especially after that comment about his mother.
When said man stamps your passport and demands an
illegal $2 stamp fee, go ahead and pay it. You don’t want any trouble, and didn’t
need a bottle of water anyway.
When you reach the Cambodian side of the border,
don’t forget to pay yet another illegal fee of $5 straight to the pocket of the
finally-corrupt official. He’ll give you a nice grimace for it. Oh, and on your
way out and you have to pee and don’t know where the bathroom is, ensure that
the only person you can find to ask is the official who told you to go away
after standing and begging at his table, waiting and waiting for him to change his mind and
tell you that yes, you can bring your bikes to the border. But he won’t. Instead, he will
see your face and roll his eyes as he attempts to ignore you. But you will
persist and demand his attention. Because you really have to go.
Finally, once stamped and into Cambodia, you
will be lucky enough to find that your only option to get into town is a $40
minibus. After told this price you will be ever so grateful that you refused
the driver earlier who said that he would take you for $10, because that was
obviously a rip-off.
There you have it folks, the 7 steps to ruining your
perfectly planned border crossing. If all goes according to these steps, you
won’t have any surprises, and will be able to handle whatever comes up. As for
us, we’ll probably skip the steps next time.