Border Run

Community Highlights Long Term Travel Border Run

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The dreaded border run. Thailand's visa laws are interesting and can be cumbersome to crack. Zach has a one year multi entry visa, but it requires him to leave the country every 90 days. Most Thai visas, even sometimes marriage visas, also require this. It's like the government really wants to test it's expats, how badly do you really want to stay in Thailand? We badly want to stay so we decided to take the bus to Cambodia so he can cross the border at Poipet and come right back to Thailand. The bus from Nakhon Ratchasima to Aran takes about 5 hours, and once we arrive he needs to buy a Cambodian visa and go through immigration, then take the 5 hour bus back. All this for another 90 days in glorious Thailand. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Because I have a work permit, my visa does not require me to do border runs. In fact, I actually can't even leave the country with out applying for a very expensive re entry permit, or it will make my visa void. Even though I can't enter Cambodia, I decided to go along for the ride. There is a huge market on the border on the Thai side so I planned to do some shopping while Zach takes care of business. I have the week off of school so why not right?

Bus to Cambodia

Bus to Cambodia

I figured the bus would be full of foreigners doing their visa runs, but we were the only white folk on board. I also thought the bus would be an express Korat to Cambodia, but it offered local service the whole way. We must have stopped nearly 50 times making pick ups and drop offs. There was also no bathroom on board so even though I was dying of thirst, my bladder couldn't afford to take more then a small sip here and there. 2 hours in I was painstakingly regretting my decision to come. Visions of cocktails and pool chairs back in Korat danced in my head. The things we do for love.

We arrived at the border market at 2 pm, and the last bus back to Korat left at 5 so we prayed there were no crowds of holiday travelers. It was weird seeing back packers and white people again, many of which making the journey to Angkor Wat. The border area was disgusting, dirty, seedy, poor, and insanely corrupt. You couldn't walk 2 feet without someone trying to get you to buy a fake visa or telling you a medical certificate is required so you should buy it from them. Our goal was to get Zach to the official visa line without being taken advantage of. Well that mission failed, he got whisked away into an unofficial visa office and before we knew what was happening his passport was being taken away. He ended up over paying for it but luckily it was legit.

The border

The border


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With the Cambodian visa stamped in his passport, it was time to split up while he made the official crossing. I reminded him not to give any money to anyone regardless of what they try to say the fee is for. He has his visa, there should be no more fees. I wandered around the market but found nothing of value. The whole place gave off a terrible vibe and instead I waited outside at the Border Hotel with a beer. Zach returned about a half hour later. He described for me the ordeal of the shakedown that had just taken place. When he entered Cambodia, there was a Cambodian cop who stopped him and told him he would be waiting for him on the other side of immigration. After being cleared, sure enough the cop was waiting for him and lead him to a small room in the back of immigration. There was another official in the room. The cop demanded Zach pay 500 baht since he was not staying over night in Cambodia. Zach thought of my words ( "do NOT pay anyone!!!") but understandably felt threatened by this authoritative figure and paid him the money. The cop then demanded that Zach tip him for "helping him out". There was no choice but to pay the man another 100 baht. He said that was acceptable and escorted him back to Thailand.
We were both tired and disgusted by the whole experience. The bus back was quicker because it didn't make as many stops. I have no desire to ever go back to that border and am actually a bit put off by Cambodia in general. In 90 days, we will definitely be flying somewhere for his next border run. Already excited to plan a mini vacay. Perhaps a few days in Malaysia. Stay tuned for border run number two.

Even the children are unhappy

Even the children are unhappy


Hell on earth

Hell on earth

This featured blog entry was written by inbetweendreams from the blog In Between Dreams.
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By inbetweendreams

Posted Wed, Jan 01, 2014 | Thailand | Comments