I am writing this to share the most unintelligible move and the most stupid thing I did in my latest travel to Cambodia from Thailand. How I forgot to get my passport stamped upon arrival. It was funny and stupid but it made me a better traveler now. I hope this will not happen to anyone.
Aranyaprathet and Poipet land border stamps.
What Had Happened?
Upon my exit to Thailand at Aranphrayet border, I passed the Cambodian Immigration in Poipet and walked straight to Siem Reap without my passport stamped upon arrival. This happens when you are not in your proper self and I hated it. This is the most stupid thing I did in my whole life yet. I did not realize it because I was busy checking on my ride to Siem Reap at 8:00 in the evening. I saw the Arrival Hall but I disregarded the line and continue walking outside until I was haggled by drivers and barkers at Poipet border and voila, I lost my senses.
After spending 30 minutes of looking for Mekong Express van which I reserved prior to my arrival, I get into the van and felt assured that I could finally go to Angkor Wat the following day. But I did not realize it until I felt something was wrong in the middle of my journey to Siem Reap. I sensed that something is missing. I thought what the heck, I do not have my arrival card with me? I started to feel hot flushes when I check my passport and found out that it was not stamped. I wanted to go back but I didn’t. What is the matter with me?
What Happened After?
I was a little cool but more bothered then that I am traveling to Cambodia as an illegal alien though I had still managed to go to a small tour of Angkor Wat in the morning of the following day. In the afternoon, right after lunch, I went back to Poipet border to get my passport stamped. Another problem arose, there are no buses traveling to Poipet that afternoon. Another option is to ride a taxi but I need to pay 30USD. I said no and looked for another option. I transferred to another booking station and found a 10USD shared taxi.
I arrived at the border past 3:00 pm, bone-tired and nervous that I have to endure the most embarrassing moment in my entire life. I went straight to the Arrival Hall, got an arrival card, filled it up and fell in line for stamping. When it was my turn, I was asked by the Immigration Officer when did I arrive and I said: “I arrived yesterday”. He handed back to me my passport and arrival card and pointed me to the police. I was more nervous when the police said: “Oh, overstaying”. He then passed me to another police, probably his superior. The senior police checked my passport, and said, “you overstayed” and he asked, where are you going? Are you going to Thailand? I explained that I came from Thailand yesterday and forgot to have my passport stamped. I honestly told him that I went to Siem Reap already and came back to have my passport stamped. He smiled a little, maybe amused by my situation and said: “So you came from Siem Reap already?” I said yes with no reservation. He told me to pay 200 Baht, but since I do not have Baht currencies, I paid 10USD with no question. He got my passport and told me to wait.
I was finally relieved when he came back after 5 minutes and have my passport stamped, attached is the arrival card. I think he stapled the arrival card to make sure that I will not lose it and be in trouble again. He handed me my passport and I felt like flying in the air, finally ending my struggle. I thanked him so much and he said I should not forget it the next time I travel. He was nice and thoughtful, though I do not know if collecting money from me without a receipt is illegal or not and what fine did I pay for. I did not understand and I did not care actually. What important to me that time is to have my passport stamped so I can continue my journey to Vietnam.
Lessons from Aranyaprathet/Poipet land border crossing:
1. Travel in the morning. Sometimes the line in the immigration gets busy and very long, the early you start, the better. The border crossing at night time is also unsafe. I will not recommend it to newbie travelers.
2. Do not leave the immigration without checking your passport. Remember you will have two (2) stamps at the border. One Departure and another one for the Arrival.
3. Relax. Border crossing could be overwhelming sometimes, so you need to budget enough time and do not rush (they said but I did not listen).
4. Be mindful at all times.
Still, good luck crossing Aranyaprathet and Poipet borders 🙂