The Thai-Cambodian Border – Why your word choice matters.

One week into my backpacking trip in Thailand I had already fallen into a common scam.

My tuk-tuk driver stopped on my temple tour at a tourist agency. They told me there was a promotion going on and would receive a discount. I planned my next two weeks accommodation and transportation.

This included a four-day trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see Angkor Wat.

Journey to the Border

I was picked up from my hostel in Bangkok, and the van drove us to what looked like a diner roughly ten minutes from the border. We were let out, but not told why we had stopped.

Finally, a man came and requested our passports and money to get the Cambodian visa. On the Cambodian visa website, it explicitly states to get it online or at the border. This place, serving food and acting as a rest stop, clearly wasn’t the border.

Most people obliged without question and some already had the e-visa. I was more skeptical.

The trouble begins

I said to the man I wanted to get it at the border. He, rather aggressively, informed me that I *had* to get it there to stay with the group. He then insisted that I give him the money and passport. “Give you my passport, are you crazy? This isn’t the border.”

I immediately regretted my word choice as soon as they left my mouth. His face became enraged. It was said in a way that was meant to be taken as ‘that seems silly, this clearly isn’t the border, why would I give you my passport?’

He took it as “you’re an insane person.”

Note to self, don’t use terms like crazy when there is even a slight language barrier.

This then led to this man yelling at me and threatening to leave me in the middle of nowhere, at least a ten-minute drive from the border.

I frantically called the number of the tourism company. The woman assured me it was fine, and to just give my passport to the man.

I reluctantly went back inside. Apologized. Handed my passport and money to the man and filled out the form. Avoiding eye contact the entire time while he continued to say things like ‘oh, I’m crazy, you don’t want to go with me…’

At this point, I was regretting booking my next couple weeks with this organization. I was stuck. I had missed the truck to the border with the original group. Hours went by and another came.  I made it to the border fine, just to walk past the area that said Visa on Arrival Office. I continued through immigration. My visa was valid.

Frustrated, yet relieved, I was able to enjoy the rest of my trip and had a lovely 3 days in Cambodia.

By | 2017-01-20T20:50:17+00:00 January 20th, 2017|Asia, Cambodia, Thailand, Travel|0 Comments

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