Saturday, November 21, 2009

Borderline Behaviour

Boundary at AranyaprathetImage via Wikipedia
As I exit the train at Aranyaprathet, I am immediatly met by a tuk tuk driver, offering to drive me to the Cambodian border. I ask the price, and given that it is only slightly higher than the price quoted by fellow travelers, I accept without bargaining.

The reason that I know the price is that I stumbled upon a website called , an invaluable resource for anyone traveling anywhere by rail, bus or boat. If you plan to travel anywhere in the world, I give this site my highest recommendation.

This site has also made me aware of a scam that is well known at this obscure border crossing, known as the fake Thai border.

Basically, this is how it works. My tuk tuk driver drives me to the border, but takes a right turn just before reaching the actual border. It is a slightly official looking place, and the Thai people there will try to convince you that this is the border, and they are wearing fake badges around their neck in an weak attempt to add authenticity.

There is a desk and a covered area and a bunch of hacks trying their best to look official. Having read about this, I know exactly where I am and what is happening, unlike many of my fellow travelers.

Essentially, these guys are offering to get your visa for you for $40 instead of $20, which is the actual price. At this point, I am tired and I just want to get into Cambodia, though I know that I am being conned. I don't mind paying the extra $20 to have someone do the legwork for me.

If you don't want to pay the extra money, just grab your gear, ignore these guys and proceed to the border, where you can fill out the paperwork yourself.

The real scam is booking your taxi from the Thai side. DO NOT DO THIS! Myself and another young lady were left hanging for more than an hour in Cambodia waiting for a shared taxi to fill up, even though I'd been assured on the Thai side that I was the fourth person, thus completing the ride, giving the impression that I would be whisked away as soon as I arrived at the taxi area in Poipet.

Tired, hungry and angry, I began telling my fellow travelers not to trust or pay anyone until a cab was directly in front of them and their bags were being loaded.

Interestingly eneough, when I began to publicly dissuade others from making the same mistake I had, I was whisked into a cab within moments, Apparently scammers don't like it when you start to expose their scam to other potential victims.

In short, you don't have to listen to anybody at the fake Thai border, but at least they do help you get your visa. At least they provide a service, though I did laugh audibly when they started asking for a tip.

However, under no circumstances should you pay for transportation from the Thai side to Siem Reap. It is a scam run by a bunch of weasels looking to take advantage of your fear and ignorance. Do not buy into it.