In Thailand, crossing to Cambodia by road. I booked the bus in Bangkok and I was going from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Just 5-10 minutes from the border, the minibus stops, we are asked to descend the to fill in the papers for the immigration. All great till they asked us for money to help us get the visa. They were asking for about 20-30 USD – not too much so people can pay them without much thinking. In theory these money was to facilitate the visa processes and get the visa on the spot or you may have to stay like 3 days on the border to wait for your visa to be processed.
What the travel agency forgot was that when one travelers meets lots people and we all travelers share lots of information along the road. So by the time I reached the border I knew the visa costs me 20 USD and they gave it to me on the spot. And when the transportation company descended us from the bus and asked us for money to cross us the border, I knew it clearly we are being ripped off. I told them we can get the visa on the spot independently if we pay them or not.
The other passengers of the minibus didn’t mind to pay to ensure they get to the other side of the border. In consequence, the travel agency which was suppose to ensure our transportation from Bangkok to Siem Reap, didn’t give up in their financial pretensions which of course nobody mentioned when we bought the bus tickets or when we board the bus.
So they told me: or you pay or you don’t cross the border.
Wait a minute I told them. I paid for a bus ticket from Bangkok to Siem Reap, not to get from Bangkok to the border Thailand – Cambodia and be blackmail and ripped off for nothing. So I want my transportation and I take care by myself of my visa to Cambodia.
All these being said, they asked me walk to the border and a bus will pick me up on the other side of the border if I ever manage to cross it.
Nothing much to be said. I took my backpack and I went by walk to the border. Very funny, I was saying to myself, pay for a bus to cross you the border, so you walk who knows for how long, to cross the border by yourself. I knew I’m not going to be picked up by any bus on the other side of the border in Cambodia, I knew I just been ripped off, but what to do? I wanted to continue traveling and go to Cambodia, and not spend my time and money fighting with some thieves.
Border time: no queue, nothing. I paid the 20 USD and I got my visa – not even 10 seconds. Then I crossed.
I told to myself: that was fast! Now let’s see who you move out of the Thailand – Cambodia border.
For my surprise there was a bus waiting there for me and for others who just crossed the border by themselves. BUT, I never seen again the group with whom I left from Bangkok.
Learning of the day:
- when it’s about crossing a border, don’t trust blindly the travel/transportation agencies, figure out from you embassy (official websites) what are the procedures and how long do they take,
- along your trip, talk to other travelers and share information,
- don’t give up on the threatening and intimidation of the local agencies, even you are in an inferior position.