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Category Archives: Immigration

Happy 3 month anniversary, Nakrian! I started this blog with a post about border runs, and here we are—a full three months later and a second visa run under my belt. All in all, the trip was successful. I paid the Thai/Cambodian entrance and exit fees, tipped the “immigration aides” (…ugh), and subsequently got all the right stamps, stickers, and signatures in my passport.

While the day started out fairly nice, what with a light blue sky and a bit of heat, it slowly progressed into all-too-typical rainy season weather: gray skies, drizzling rain, and periodic downpours. The weather, coupled with the high number of travelers at the border, made the trip a little less relaxed than last time.

But hell, I can’t complain—I got my visa extended and that was precisely the reason for the trip. Following the immigration rodeo, we decided to check out a popular Thai market on the border.

I can describe the “popular” market in one word: gross. I still can’t get over how much trash, dirt, and mucky rain water there was. I also can’t get over how much of it got on my clothes. Gross. I am no priss, but good lord it was a hot mess. It was a pretty typical Thai market: designer knockoffs (Lacoste, Nike, YSL) sold alongside elephant tusks, mosquito rackets, and bicycles assembled in China. The market wasn’t a total waste: Michael bought 12 pairs of work socks for 150฿ (roughly $5) and I took a lot of pictures and we all laughed quite a bit. 🙂

But, look! 3 more months of blissful ex-patriot life (that is, until my next border run)!


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Due to my visa’s quickly approaching expiry, it was decided that we take a drive to the Kingdom of Cambodia for what is commonly called, in the parlance of ex-pats, a “border run.” Cambodia is roughly 3.5 palm-tree-filled hours away from my village. The drive is quite beautiful; field after field of rice, tapioca, and soy, each framed with aging palms. Roped and belled Brahmin cows graze road-size.  And every hundred meters or so, family-run stalls sell khao nee-o dam* to travelers who graze car-side.

When we finally arrived at the border, we were greeted by throngs of child-beggars and beggars disguised as well-meaning Immigration aides. One of the “Immigration aides” latched himself onto me, the only farang of the group, and proceeded to lead us through the circus at the Cambodian/Thailand border. The gentleman took it upon himself to fill out my paperwork, which, uh, happened to be in English.

Cambodian man "helps" at Immigration

After he took care of my paperwork, I paid the real Immigration officers ฿1500 (roughly $45) for stamping my passport and was then instructed to pay the “well-meaning” aide ฿100 (roughly $3) for helping me, of course. And so it goes.

We hitched rides to a Cambodian market  from variously-aged men on motorcycles. I was largely unimpressed by the goods, which consisted mostly of designer knock-offs. However, a bracelet constructed out of pig’s teeth and mud, a variety of crudely carved wooden penises, and bottles of whiskey holding ever-virile tiger’s penises, did happen to catch my eye. In hoping to protect Mike from the pii mimai**, I haggled for a wooden penis that now graces our bedside table. For myself, I purchased 2 handwoven, bamboo baskets.

Cambodian Street Market

We left Cambodia soon after we arrived. On the way back to our car, we were harried by a handful of shoe-less Cambodian children begging for money. They followed us across the border, unnoticed by the Thai Military who were more interested in their iPhones than Cambodian street children. Their numbers doubled when we reached the car; sticking their skinny arms through the windows, hoping for a baht or two.

Cambodian children asking for money

It was a successful trip and I am quite relieved to have my visa updated with all the right stamps, stickers, and signatures.  I am, however, a little bitter that I didn’t get to try any Cambodian food, but there’s always next time.

*Black sticky rice: a mixture of rice, sugar, black beans and coconut milk, steamed and served inside hollowed-out bamboo trunks.

**The Divorced Ghost, a female ghost that haunts men in the night. The only sure protection from the divorced ghost are penis statues, oh, and wearing women’s clothing and make-up to bed.

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