Visa trip to Cambodia

February 10, 2013

Last week it was my turn to play the big Thai visa game where you leave the country for 5 minutes so you can re-enter and get a new visa. Instead of doing the trip by myself I opted for an all-included visa trip with “Jack Golf”, a Bangkok based tour operator (please notice that the company stopped operating near the end of 2012). It is now 4:30AM and I am standing on Sukhumvit road to fill in my Cambodian visa application papers while drunk punters walk pass me with ugly bargirls at their side; I am just as shocked by the looks of their choice of mating partners as they are by the fact that I am here on this time without being drunk. In a small bag I am carrying a can of refrigerator-cold Coke and a foot long Sub from the Subways I bought yesterday evening with the sauce now well settled in the bread making it an impossible thing to eat without making a mess. After the paperwork is done I pick a seat in the big bus that is waiting for me and claim a double seat for the coming 8 hours by lying across both seats and pretending to sleep. A total of 20 foreigners enter the bus and a little past 5AM we start our journey out of the country.

The big bus which took us to and from the Cambodian border

The big bus which took us to and from the Cambodian border

Soon after leaving I am happy I did not choose for a mini-van since I have plenty of leg room and a great view from the top of the bus. Besides, the bigger the bus the smaller the movements from missing pieces of highway we encounter and the smoother the ride. The bus driver makes a big effort to stay on schedule by cruising as fast as possible in this road monster and not slowing down for red traffic lights; even the Thais understand it is not smart to throw your puny pickup truck in front of a huge tour bus coming your way.

The view from the bus couldn't have been more interesting, almost every rice field is different from the last one...

The view from the bus couldn’t have been more interesting, almost every rice field is different from the last one…

Around 8:30AM we reach the border with Cambodia and receive our passports back from the smiling Thai tour lady. The intercom is broken and she tells a story what will happen next, but when she walks up and down the bus I miss pieces of the story and I stop paying attention. Apparently one fat bloke has done this trip before because he leaves the bus when the lady finishes the speech and starts walking in an, for me unknown, direction. The rest of the people follow him and I can only hope he is not walking towards the nearest toilet because he has a bad case of diarrhea (and if he does, it will be pretty crowded in the toilet with 20 foreigners).

Cambodia is just behind that strange looking arch.

Cambodia is just behind that strange looking arch.

Soon we are out of the country, entered Cambodia safely, and are directed to a local casino a few meters from the border. The tour guide tells us they will arrange the Cambodian visas for us and in the meantime we can have a complimentary breakfast at the Poipet casino; at 10AM we should all be at the meeting point again for the return trip. People around me look at their watch and it appears the guy just gave us a whopping 90 minutes for breakfast. The fat guy standing next to me begins to smile, this probably sounds like heaven to him, while the rest of the group seems annoyed with the delay. Luckily the breakfast is pretty tasty and there is enough choice to keep returning a couple of times.

One of the many breakfasts I took in the Cambodian casino

One of the many breakfasts I took in the Cambodian casino

At 10AM we all return to the Thai border and receive our passports again with the new stamp. Another 60 days of paradise for me and I quickly look around to spot someone of our group who might know the way back to the bus. An Asian looking couple now takes the lead and I walk a couple of meters behind them so not draw any attention on me following them (maybe I have seen too many spy movies). Back in the bus I claim the exact same seats again for the return trip which is, in general, about the same as the trip we just made to come to the border, but then the other way around.

The visa needed for eating breakfast in Cambodia

The visa needed for eating breakfast in Cambodia

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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