No Casinos but Bribes are OK.

A couple of days ago we made it across the border from Cambodia to Laos.

Sally crossing no mans land

Sally crossing no mans land

We stamped out of Cambodia and were left with a bad taste in our mouth when the customs guy asked for a $2.80 bribe per person for the stamp in the passport…

‘$2.80 for a stamp?’

‘Erh…. Do we get a receipt?’

‘No, no receipt’

‘Well no receipt, no money we responded…’

He huffed and puffed a bit then thrust back our passports… Not a nice way to leave Cambodia where the people have been nothing but lovely.

So then we enter Laos. After paying $37 for a visa another immigration official asks for $2 for ‘overtime’ pay before stamping us in.

‘Overtime?!’  (at 3:30pm on a Friday)

‘Yes yes stamp $2 per person’

‘Ok… Do we get a receipt?’

‘No, no receipt’

‘Well, no receipt no money’

This time our passports were not thrust back at us but rather put to the side while passports for a bus load of people (who had arrived after us) were processed instead.

We weren’t quite sure what to do next, but took it as a positive sign that we weren’t sent back to Cambodia. Dean made some pretend phone calls to the tourist police which didn’t seem to bother them, so then we decided to play some cards and wait it out.

5 mins later we were being yelled at by the same guy…

‘No! No casino!’ Shouted the rubber stamp guy

‘Have you finished with our passports?’

‘No casino!’

‘We’re not gambling!’ we respond.

My hands were a bit shaky at this stage but we continued to play.

We had decided to give it about an hour of waiting before we would succumb to the corruption. We played 2 rounds of Scala Quaranta (the game we often play during long waits on buses and ferries) before Dean was called over and handed the passports stamped and ready to go – small victories!

I know it sounds stupid that we are arguing about $2, but it’s the principal of the matter. Corruption is one of the main obstacles facing developing countries, and the guys working in these places make far more money than most of the rest of the country.  If they get $2 from every person who crossed the border, that little office is pocketing hundreds of dollars every day, for a country with an average wage of something like $5/day it’s insane.  There’s also an element of pride I guess, just because we’re tourists it doesn’t mean we’re stupid!  Overtime fees… at least invent a reasoable story!!

From there we spent a couple of nights in Four Thousand Islands – a group of islands scattered along the Mekong about 25km from the border.

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It was very relaxing with not much to do except hang out on a hammock (and play with the six puppies that were living where we were staying :))))))))) I was in heaven!

Sally in puppy heaven!!

Sally in puppy heaven!!

We’re now riding a two day loop from Pakse towards the Vietnamese border and back.

More later xoxoL

Back on the road…

Despite feeling pretty happy that the travel sickness of the buses and boats of the Philippines were behind me it was very sad to leave… Usually by the time we leave a country, there is a little part of me that feels ready to leave and excited for a new one but I didn’t feel this when it came to leaving the Philippines, this time I was planning our next visit instead.

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Still, it was nice to come back to Cambodia 😊 the warmth and smiles of the Cambodian people exceed even those of the Philippines! After a couple of days in Siem Reap, Dean doing last minute bits to Betsy and me chopping my hair off 😳, we got back to reality and into our hot heavy bike gear 😁 a moment neither of us had been looking forward to! Saying goodbye to Peter and Sue, we headed north towards the Thai border. A short gentle day to start with which was lucky as we didn’t get away until 1pm – we’re clearly out of form!

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Today we headed up to a temple on the Thai border.  It was falling to bits but still very beautiful. Upon leaving we were asked to hurry along as there was some commotion. The locals were packing up shop and rushing away… It was quite strange but there seemed to be some military conflict with Thailand underway – I’m sure dean can add more details here…

Not much, we wanted to stop for a bit of food but all the vendors were closing up and literally running away, (and Cambodian’s NEVER run for anything!).  The parking atttendants told us we’d have to eat somewhere else, and asked us to rush as there was ‘a problem with Thai military’.  This temple is the subject of a dispute bewteen  Thailand and Cambodia, hopefully no one was hurt this time.


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Tonight we find ourselves in a town called Preah Vihear. Tomorrow, if we get our asses into gear, we will make it across to Laos.

Now it has been noted that Dean does more blog entries than me…. It has also been noted that there are a lot more photos of me on here than Dean (because he takes more photos) but I was quite disturbed that (despite hours spent laughing at tourists -predominantly Asians – taking photo upon photo of themselves), Dean had actually found the need to publish a selfie of himself sitting on a bus a few posts ago, so I’ve taken it upon myself to take and post more photos of him 😊

Drinking in Siem Reap!

Drinking in Siem Reap!

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Quick Update from Cambodia

Cambodian street food - fried insects... yummy!!

Cambodian street food – fried insects… yummy!!

Here we are in Siem Reap, we’ve come here as some friends have offered us a place to leave the bike while we fly to the Phillipines – Thanks to Sue and Peter!!

After the last update we took a couple of days to get to Bangkok, spending the night in what ended up being a dodgy hotel upstairs from a prostitute pick up bar, fortunately for me, it was Sal who found this one, so no blame on me for a change.

The lovehearts painted on the walls were a nice touch though.

From there we headed to the downtown area in Bangkok where we found a nicer place with a secure park outside for Betsy, and spent the next few days looking for new tyres, some other spares, a gps repair centre… and a hairdresser.

The street food in Bangkok is always a highlight, and we spent a few nights cruising the streets in a tuk tuk, hanging out in a blues bar, and just soaking up the sights and sounds of that enormous gritty city.

We rode to the border with Cambodia in a day and exited Thailand, avoiding the unexpected border scam of trying to convince you to buy a visa for Cambodia at a non official office.

We arrived on the other side an hour after the Cambodian Customs office had closed for the night, and were told to come back at 8 to get our paperwork done for the bike.  We couldn’t work out whether they meant 8pm or 8am the next day, but as we were sitting across the road eating dinner anyway, I went back in at 8:30 just in case there was someone there.

Of course the office was empty, but as I was walking out laughing (at the idea of anyone coming back in at 8pm!), a car pulled up with two drunken customs officers inside.  They weren’t there to work, only to pick up a car after a ‘party’ of some sort, but one of them smiled and invited me into the office, turned on the lights and the computer again and got the temporary import done for me.  I cant think of too many places in the world where that could happen.

We spent the rest of the night drinking $2 Margaritas before a long hungover ride into Siem Reap the next day.

I’d forgotten just how friendly and smiley the Cambodian people are, they’re accustomed to seeing foreign people so they dont stare, but will still sneak a little look at us sometimes, especially when we’re on the bike.  Then it just takes  a little nod to say hello and they light up with big beautiful smiles.

We’re off to the Phillipines tonight so the next update will be from there 🙂