We could have taken a bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok but I was afraid to take the bus … especially across a border and ESPECIALLY with my baby. We flew and paid more than times as much …. and I was dead wrong.
On the way back to Cambodia we decided that we’d take the Giant Ibis bus from Saigon over the border to Phnom Penn. It was pretty quick, they fed us, and it was pretty cheap. The only problem we had was at the border.
When we arrived in Cambodia from LAX, we were told that the baby’s visa would be $5 though online the Cambodian embassy says that children under 12 are free. At the border, the Ibis guy grabbed everyone’s passport …. except us. He said that since we had a baby, he wasn’t sure how much they would charge us. *blank stare*
We got off the bus and went to the little kiosk. The man looked at us, told us the price for two adults and $5 for the baby. Having already been fleeced on the way in, I was determined not to pay again. When I didn’t fork over the money, he took all three of our passports and set them in a pile. I wasn’t sure what was happening so I didn’t move. He didn’t even look at us, he just kept working with the other people in line. After about 8 minutes, I realized that game he was playing. Cambodians tend to be shy around strangers and certainly around foreigners. I made a point of standing very close to the people in line. I started pressing against them to get closer to the front. When they looked at me, I put my eyes down and motioned toward the man. I’m not sure what happened, but the men started talking to the guy and looked at me. I handed over the correct amount of money. He snatched it, marked our passports, and returned them to me. Ha! It was a bit underhanded but many cultures use societal pressure to get things to happen. Hey, it worked!
After leaving the kiosk, we got in line to cross the border. We got through with no problems, found our bus, and sat back for a relaxing ride into Phnom Penn. After the bus pulled off, a motorbike pulled alongside. The man started honking and the second rider waved his hands. Eventually, the bus pulled over. Apparently, the bus had taken off and left without one person! He made it onto the bus, but he was not pleased. Lol
Next time we go to to southeast Asia, I think I’ll save myself a few dollars and take the bus.