Cambodia: Border Crossing

We expected the trip back to Thailand to be better than it was coming in to Cambodia.  We were WRONG.  First, the bus from Battambang to the border was sold out, so we had to grab a taxi (luckily, for the same price) but with 4 people in the backseat and three people and a baby in the front.  Again, Cambodians must have major car sickness issues because one of the girls in the back was puking into a bag for half the journey.  We stamped out of Cambodia by 10am…on a Tuesday…which led us to believe we were doing well.

But, when we got in line to stamp back into Thailand, it never moved…for FOUR hours.  A tour leader told us the Thais were frustrated with the Cambodian Immigration Officers making so much money on the border crossing and wanted their piece as well; so the Thais started a scheme where they make people wait and wait and wait (only one out of 6 windows were open, yet they have someone out front to update the total # of people waiting on a whiteboard) until travelers get so frustrated they will pay to be fast-tracked!  The guys running this outfit wear sunglasses and Sahara desert-like hats which cover their faces, necks and heads…they do not want to be recognized or caught.  They make a huge deal about “No pictures!”  We wouldn’t pay.  We weren’t approached to pay (reverse profiling due to disheveled and poor appearance).  But, if I knew a $10 or $15 bribe would have saved me 4 hours when I started, I might have been persuaded.

When we finally crossed, we found a mini-bus to take us to Bangkok.  We were told by the ticket seller, the car would leave at 2pm.  So we gave her a chance to tell us otherwise (because they usually wait until they have filled up all the seats).  Instead, she insisted it would leave at 2pm.  So at 2:10pm, we got out of the car and said we would like our money back because we were still parked in the same spot…she sent the van speeding away (with us in it!) unfilled.

It was a long day with a lot of travel…next time I would fly from Phnom Penh!

Total Time: 11 days

Exchange Rate: 1 dollar=3,981 riels…which everyone rounds to 4,000, but you can pay in any combination of dollar, riel and baht.  ATMs give out crisp US dollars…where do they get them?!

Cost of Dinner: 6,000-8,000 riel for fried rice or noodles

Cost of a Beer: 2,000 for Angkor, the national beer

Number of Cities Visited: 4

Favorite Place: Siem Reap

Least Favorite Place: Easily Poipet, but it could have been the worst place we’ve been in the WORLD.

Number of Buses: 4

Number of Taxis and Tuk-tuks: 5

Number of Motos: 2

Number of Kms on a Bicycle: 60km

Number of Boats: 2

Best Food: Fish Amok at Grand Restaurant Kampuchea in Sihanoukville

Worst Food: Fish Amok at White Rose in Battambang…we tried quite a few to know it was bad.

Place to Visit Next Time: Kampot

Sweetest Purchase: New eyeglasses including the eye exam for $18 each!

Travel Tip: Always ask a local the going price before making any purchase or you are bound to pay a premium.  A given for any traveler, but even more necessary in sCambodia.

Largest Item to be Carried by a Moto: Water buffalo or the LARGEST pig we’ve ever seen.

Best Live Performance: Tie between the Battambang circus and the Grand Kampuchea entertainment consisting of the owner’s children (ranging from age 2 to 7) dancing to Gangnam Style and other rap videos while we ate…or watching the fully-clothed Koreans launch themselves off the top of our boat into the water, typically resulting in a belly or back flop.

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