• Facing the mafia at the Cambodian border of Poi Pet

    After so many days enjoying the comodities of Bangkok’s tourist area, Kao San Road, we were decided to get back in the trail and move to a new country, a new language and a new culture. Our first contact with all these things, right in the gate to Cambodia was pretty awful. After having spent around 6 hours sitting in a 3rd class train and having had to hitch hike from the railway station to the border due to the abussive price of taxis and tuk-tuks, we were not expecting to be forced to face such a bad welcome from the Cambodian border authorities. Many travellers talk about it, but one never thinks it is going to be that way.

    Once having left Thailand border and wanting to pass through the Cambodian inmigration bureaucracy as soon as possible as it was getting dark, the officers at the Cambodian border tried to make us pay 1000 Thai Baht each for our one month tourist visa -around 30 US dollars- while we knew the fee is only 20 USD. There was no way to discuss with them about the real price, it was paying in Baht or returning to Thailand. There was even a sign saying “tourist Visa 20 USD” right on the officer’s window!!! The officers started to get nervous as we kept on asking to pay in dollars and they even told us we would not get the Visa otherwise. It was already dark and we feared we would get stucked in the middle of both borders with no Visa. Other tourists were crossing the border at that time, all of them paying without making any question about the Visa price change, so we started to think we should pay the 30 USD -1000 Baht- even though we knew it was a scam. They were the authority there and there was nothing we could do. We exchanged the money in the only office available at the border -the one from the officers, of course, and at very low rate, that was part of the scam-. As we were ready to pay the extra money to get the Visa and finish with all that hassle, one light lit on our heads and we asked the officer for his name and identification number. He couldn’t be more surprised with such request. We told him, we would pay the money only if he would give us his details, so that we could contact the embassy on the next day to report the irregularity. He returned our passports and denied us the Visa. We insisted we need to get that Visa, and that we would pay the amount he was asking for, but we wanted his name. After some more minutes of tension in which the air was too thick to breath properly, he returned us our 2000 Baht and accepted the payment in USD -20 and no one more!- So, we did it and left that place as soon as we could! We were already in Cambodia. The challenge now was to get away of that awful border town, Poi Pet, in which there seemed to be no law, but the one of money.

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