Monday, June 30, 2008

Border Crossing warning

The empty highway, except for a family of goats, leading to the Laos-Cambodia border crossing at Dong Kralor
The Laos immigration post - laid-back is an understatement
Don't do what I did! That's the first warning when crossing the land border at Dong Kralor between southern Laos and northern Cambodia. Sort your onward transport before you turn up at the border crossing or else you could be stuck there for a long while or have to pay silly money for taxi fees, like we did on Saturday. And expect both the Lao and Cambodian border/immigration police to ask for 'overtime (as it was a Saturday) or processing or stamp fees' of a dollar or two. It was the first-time I have ever made a land crossing into Cambodia and I naively thought there would be at least a few taxis, vans or motodops waiting to shuttle me from the border point to Stung Treng, along the nicely paved Highway 7 and over the brand new bridge that welcomes you into this almost-forgotten northern outpost. The land crossing is relatively new - travelers previously crossed by boat at Voen Kham in Laos - and as such, it's in a wilderness with no inhabitants apart from the shirtless police and officials playing cards and drinking beer. They refused to allow our Lao driver to whizz us onto Stung Treng, an hour and half away - especially as we refused to pay their overtime fees - so we had to wait until someone turned up and the taxi that did, refused to budge from the ridiculous price he wanted - he knew we had no other choice! Most travelers will use the tourist mini-vans that are available on the islands for their border crossing, especially with the easy availability of the Cambodian visas at the border post, or you can contact someone like Richie (Tel. 012 302 017) to arrange a taxi from Stung Treng to pick you up. Don't make the same mistake as me - you have been warned.
The Cambodian visa application post; $20 plus visa processing fee
Avoid these taxi drivers at all costs! The hut on the right is the Cambodian immigration post and the road behind the car is devoid of any life for many kilometres

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