Aah so this was the second time I was crossing a border with Phoebe. Read about the first one here.
From: Stung Treng (Cambodia)
To: Don Det aka 4000 islands (Laos)
Cambodia motorbike diaries Day 10 and Laos motorbike diaries Day 1.
So, I read about numerous stories about how the border crossing between Cambodia and Laos is rife with scams. There’s one where a friendly guy takes your passport and offers his services for 7-8 dollars. There is the stamping “fee” scam where the officials take 2$ to stamp you in or out. Then there is the one where they let you out on your motorbike from Cambodia but don’t let you in Laos, so you have to sell your motorbike for 25$ in between.
I was thinking that the worst thing that happens today is I lose my bike.
When crossing the Cambodian side, I had to pay 2$ stamping fee. I didn’t contest it and paid.
On the Laos side there was a 1$ fee which was when you got your visa processed before 8 or after 4 but they still took the dollar anyway. Then I paid 2$ for stamping fees again.
I thought I was flying out of Vientiane on the 9th and the visa I got is till 9th April. Close call. I was hoping that they gave it till 11th April since I applied on 11th March but apparently not. (My flight is on the 8th)
Like the last border crossing I was keeping my bike away and not really mentioning it to anyone.
When I was leaving the office and walking towards the motorbike, the lady from the office called me out and asked “Do you have moto?”. I couldnt really say no and hence said a very tentative yes. She then told me to get it registered in the other office.
I thought this is where I pay the bribe. The guy looked at my passport and asked for 6$. I had 3$ in small notes and then just a 50$ note. I asked him whether it was okay to pay just 3, but he refused. So I had to give him 50$ note which he changed for 400,000 kip and returned the remaining amount.
He gave me a yellow document which was a document declaration for the bike. This was a customs declaration and I tried to tell him that I am flying out of the country but he just told me to show it when I made exit. I also told him I have to sell the bike in Laos.
I got away from the border and a little realisation struck me that this is not good. I need to get the bike out of the country by 9th April which I can’t do, since I’m flying out. I went back to the office and asked the people there. Suddenly none of them spoke English! All of them pretended to barely understand me and just told me to show the form when I fly out.
Slowly over the course of the day I figured this is really way worse than it seemed at the moment. I can legally not leave the country without the bike. The document also said that I was not allowed to sell it. That there was a 10$ per day fine for overstaying.
I was hoping to fly out from here to India. If I go to other countries that would involve visa fees. Plus I have to come back to Laos again and pay visa fees again.
At the border there were 3 people who were just ditched by their driver after getting to the border. And now they had to figure out a way to get to a place 150 kms away.
These borders are so messed up.
I had a Swedish guy with me as well, and we were doing the same thing together. They didn’t stop him but just stopped me. The visa for Indians is 40$ while for most other places it’s 30-35$, Canada being an exception at 42.
I have 4-5 options in my mind that I have to choose from. None are particularly great but I’ll see which one I choose.
I made it to Don Det and it seems nice here. Most of my day has been spent over analysing what to do though.