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Rip Van Winkle's Aranya Prathet / Poipet Report

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  • Rip Van Winkle's Aranya Prathet / Poipet Report

    [TLDR;] I won't be doing that again in a hurry [/TLDR;]

    Lots of warnings from people that this main thoroughfare between Thailand and Cambodia is a bit of a chew.

    I went through it once in 2002, and then this year. A world of difference.

    When I first did it, there was just a little wooden hut, and loads of Khmers trying to get you to let them fill in your Khmer TM6 for a few pennies. I remember there was a teenage girl with that "Mask" genetic condition there too, and lots of children asking for 1 baht. The whole process then was swift and easy. Almost an immigration carousel.

    Fast forward to now, and there's a load more buildings and infrastructure around both sides of the little "weclome to cambodia gate" thing.

    Here's a map to help with the verbal diarrhoea below:

    walking in, up the stairs, a little confusing, the lack of uniforms could make you wonder who is or isn't a tout.
    overwhelming majority of people going both ways are Khmer. They do all the digital fingerprints and photos now. Once your're through, you go down the stairs and try and work out where to go next. Following other people you are in nomans land (but on Google Maps it's still Thailand), and cross over a little river, and then you see run down shops, cattle fencing andThai passport-holders' special queue.

    You have to cross over a confusing busy road, and down through a road tunnel that's still a work in progress, and past casinos until you see a titchy little hut across the road for Visa on Arrival, filled with Khmer coppers, in various states of attire. One of whom, not wearing any uniform spoke English, and you wonder if he's a tout or a copper.
    Just hand over your $30 or $35 depending on whether you want to be able to extend your visa later, and one friendly bobby asked for a hundred baht. They give you a Cambodian TM6 (which you should keep, because you need it later). A few minutes later, sticker in passport, out of the portakabin and carry on down the lane past the larger than AranyaPrathet casino hotel buildings and into a little Santa's grotto of a entry office, with a big shrine of sorts inside it, and lots of dudes of unknown purpose hanging about. Four rows, and they do the digital prints and photos again, and then out you go.

    Wander along a bit further and you get to what looks like a sort of open air duty shop, and the kbal spean roundabout. On the other side of the road is a nondescript hut with "departures" on it, and that's your way back to Toyland. They stamp you out, and do the digital prints and photos again, and then you wander back down the road past the casinos.
    I happened to find myself strolling along with a 5'8" pretty Cambodian girl, called Em, aged 26, who spoke no English, but enough Thai for us to chat. She bought a bag of creepy crawlies to munch on, and we strolled past a herd of fat americans walking along the railway track.
    You cross the road, and another little lad yaps at you, and you go and get another TM6, and up you go back to an identical checkpoint building and queue again. My Thai SIM kept working all the time on the Cambo side.

    Now, the queue was 90+% Cambodian, but there were some honkies too. a couple of old boys who looked like they might be visa running. I gradually started wondering what if they don't let me back in, my 5-minute old Cambodian visa is spent now... ee-fuk. So I stewed a bit, but took comfort in ogling the mocha-coloured scenery around me.

    So I came to the desk, and I was smartly attired. Had my certificate of residence letter from Sakaeo immigration office, and my ME NI O Visa. The dude flatly said in Thai, "nah mate, no can do - you can't come back in same day". I politely protested in excruciatingly posh Siamese. He directed me to the Superintendent, whose photo adorns the Sakaeo immi office in AP town centre.
    He was relaying bad news to an Aussie old boy via a dusky Thai old girl (with some tattoos that told a story) who was interpreting. He was apparently having to go back to Oz. Didn't make sense to me.

    The boss then turned to me, and I came and sat in front of him, showed my papers, and gently related my tale to him in Thai. He was equally adamant, "nah mate, no can do...", again, I politely petitioned him with a flurry of carefully-distributed "krups", and explained that the rib and rugrats were Thai and waiting downstairs, she had to be in hospital in Thailand, and we'd been married for n-teen years, that I'm not a tourist etc... and said where we lived down to the tambon. He kept saying, in Thai, "yeah, but no, but yeah but..." policy this and that... and then we switched into English. Something made him change his position, maybe because I indicated that I had talked to SK immi before and they said I could do what I was doing, and he sprung up, walked me back to the same guy on the check in desk, and told him that my visa meant I could go out and come back in, same day.
    I thanked him politely, and went back through to Toyland.
    Back to the Star Plaza, and then Big C for yapping and scoffing. Mrs and kids would have come with but they forgot their Thai passports. They are eligible for day passes into the border area, but they wouldn't be able to accompany me through any of the immi stuff if they are using Thai passports.

    I've never had that sort of snag before, and I don't think I'll do that again. I spent all of about an hour or so doing the AP-Poipet carousel this time, so actually about the same as 17 years ago.

    Next time, I'll go to one of the crossings at Chanthaburi, or find reasons to hang around in Poipet or Siem Reap.

  • #2
    To many goddamn disconnected foreigners for my taste.
    If that's your gig - Barang ghettos.
    To each his own.

    Thanks for the effort anyway.


    • #3
      What are you, Jeff?

      Why don't you do a long post for a change? Start a thread? Interact? Aren't you bored of these blunderbuss haikus?

      I thought Poipet has lot more going on in it than most of the towns on the Thai side, with the possible exception of the English ghetto of Buriram. There's not a lot else for miles and miles until you hit the coast, the megalopolis, or the other English stongholds of latter-day Chen-La. Seems like a place where cheap labour can be turned into gold.


      • #4
        Are rain checks available to use for a future date...??


        • #5
          I've no idea what a rain check is.


          • #6
            Originally posted by CaptainNemo View Post
            I've no idea what a rain check is.
            The term 'rain check' come from the game of baseball (rounders to y'all) where if the game is called due to inclement weather ie. rain, you receive what's called a 'rain check' good for the next game.
            God, the panic within the Dems, MSM, and left must be horrifying...realizing that Joe is really the best they've got.


            • #7
              aah, you mean a precipitation "cheque", not a "tick" - two words that Simplified English conflates for added confusion.