Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TRAVEL | The Poi Pet Encounter : Crossing from Cambodia to Thailand Through Poi Pet-Aranyaprathet

Crossing the border from Cambodia to Thailand was pretty smooth for me. I just called the receptionist to book a ticket for the minivan, which will will take me to Poi Pet. This is the entry to Thailand.

I chose the 11:30am trip (the last trip of the day). At 11am I was already waiting at the lobby. At 11:45 the minivan arrived. The driver was helpful enough to carry my luggage to the back. When I stepped in, there was only this New Zealand guy. I sat at the back and kept quiet the whole trip.

A few minutes later, another passenger came in. An English guy who doesn't seem to tire from talking. Seriously, the whole 3-hour trip from Siem Reap to Poi Pet, this English guy just kept on talking. I felt like I already know everything about him.

Then the question at the back of my mind: Do you really have to disclose everything about your personal life to a complete stranger?

I overheard from the conversation of the New Zealand and the English guy about how expats in Siem Reap easily get jobs in the city, that they have been here and there, after a few minutes I wished I could just shut everything else and have some sense of peace.

When we reached this stopover where a local will put a sticker on you, the English guy hushed the person who was explaining what to do when we reach the border. I immediately protested and asked the local to continue but the English guy was just so arrogant saying he knows what to do already.

So I decided, I've got nothing much to lose I just gave in. I let the arrogant English guy to lead the group. Ten minutes after, we reached Poi Pet. Contrary to reports on long queues at the border, there were not many. I was just thankful that after doing the fingerprint scanning and stamping in the passport, I easily passed the border. Such a relief!

Now the next step is to enter the Thai immigration. I just needed to answer the paper with my details and gave it to the immigration officer. After that, I joined my group which was waiting for me in a shade. We were then brought to another meeting point where we were joined by other passengers going to Bangkok.

After five minutes, the bigger van moved. I sat at the back. Inside were Chinese, the English and New Zealand guys, and a few other Caucasians I reckoned were Australians and French. But it was the Chinese passengers who were so noisy, I really wonder whether they are just plain ignorant that there are other people inside the van or what?!

The trip was a good five hour drive. When we were near Bangkok, the van stopped at this gas station. So I hurried to the toilet and when I came back, I was aghast to see that there were a dozen identical vans in the gas station. I didn't know which one was mine. 

I was stupid enough to check the van one by one. But because the windows are heavily tinted I couldn't see anything much. So the next best thing to do was to find the other passengers. 

I saw the Australian guy. And with a heavy British accent I asked, "Excuse me, d'you know which one is our van?"

He was also not sure and was also just waiting there. So okay, no other way but to wait for the van to come to us. Seemed like all the other people in the waiting area was also doing the same.

I waited there. I noticed that Caucasians gravitate toward each other, but Asians don't mix very well. And so the question- What divides Asians from each other? Why do Caucasians seem to find it easy to get along with each other?

Well for sure, I'm not gonna be so comfortable chatting with the Chinese.

So after the van came to us, we jumped back in and was on the road again. It was another hour drive to Bangkok. Good thing that I was alert because the van stopped at Suvarnabhumi Airport. I guess this is because of the arrogant English guy who paid the driver to stop at the airport (earlier this English guy was asking me to pay for the stopover at the airport). 

And this is how I reached Bangkok.


1. Buy a minivan ticket going to Poi Pet en route to Bangkok for USD 15.00. You can ask your hostel receptionist to buy the ticket for you.

2. Travel hour from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand is 8 hours.

3. From Siem Reap, it will take 3 hours to reach Poi Pet. Note however that prior to arrival in Poi Pet, the minivan will pass by a stopover and some locals will put a sticker on you then drive again to Poi Pet border.

4. At the border, fall in line at the window. Prepare your passport. If you are ASEAN national, just a passport is enough. If not, you need to fill up the form for the Visa. The form should be available around the queuing area.

5. The Cambodian immigration will scan your fingerprints- right and left hands. Afterwards, he will stamp your passport and then you are done.

6. Walk towards the gate and cross to the other side of the road. This is on the way to the Thai immigration. Make sure you fill out the arrival form with complete details.

7. After getting your passport stamped at the Thai immigration, walk forward and find your co-passengers waiting for you.

8. You will be brought to another meeting point with other passengers. Wait here. Once the driver gives the go signal then you can go inside the van. After you hoist your bag to the van, get inside and find a good seat.

9. The van stops occasionally for toilet. Other than that, the trip is just a smooth one.

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