Dangerous Border scam Thailand to Cambodia

Koh Chang (Thailand) to Seam Reep (Cambodia)

I leave independent Bo early in the morning to be in time for the mini bus to take me to the border. It’s a windy and cloudy day and feels like way below 20° when I have a quick breakfast at white sand beach around 7 am. The bus is a little late but empty, the ferry is a “seelenverkaeufer” as we say in german – more rust than steel kept together with strings at some places. I always wonder how floating catastrophes like this do not kill thousands of tourists each year in many countries….

The way to the border takes several hours and including a short coffee break we arrive there between 2 and 3pm being dropped off at a restaurant. A guy takes food orders, hands out visa forms and collects passports, pictures and money (1500 baht plus 100 baht tip). I have been asleep in the mini bus and by waking me up he has an easy game on me unfortunately. I get a visa for 3 months which costs 900 baht if applied for between the borders after leaving Thailand. Damn, but what to do. As we all had paid the trip all the way to Seam Reep we cross the 500m between the borders walking and wait together for thee promised bus on the other side while a guy who is obviously in charge and paid by our tour operator tells us where to change money for a horrendous rate and more things he wants us to do. But after the visa scam most of us don’t listen to him that much anymore.

A bus comes and takes us another 500m to a bus terminal where we are told the bus will come in an hour and arrive in seam reep around nine o clock which makes a ride of 3 hours for 150km plus waiting for an hour. We had heard that the bus will drop us at a busstation where we will be easy victims of commission hunting Tuk tuk drivers taking us to the hotels who pay them. A mini bus from the border takes only two hours and would leave immediately so we would be in seam reep center (no need for tuk tuks) at 7pm – for 150 Baht each which is around 3.5 Euro. The operator guy who is in charge arranges a mini van for us. A group of 10 people including a dutch couple, a few guys from Switzerland and me is quickly found so we leave. A little later we find out the operator guy is not only responsible for taking us aver the border but is also the boss of the taxi company. Very strange (/sarcasm).

5 minutes later we have to stop in a small traffic jam for 5 minutes. Passing an accident we see two obviously dead bodies on the street. At around half the way we ask the driver for a cigarette break – “10 minutes” he says and drives on. 20 minutes later and a little less than half an hour before seam reep he pulls over and stops at a big restaurant maybe 200 meters next to the street. He asks if we want food but so close to seam reep we agree we wouldn’t even need a cigarette. Driver wants to stop to make us eat there so what can we do. Seconds later two big buses with people who had crossed the border with us stop next to us. Do I need to write that they get commission from the restaurant? We have to wait for the driver who is eating for more than half an hour and then go on to Seam Reep. We agree not to pay him the full price because he is in no way faster than the buses and even wasting time at the restaurant to punish us for not eating – he even threatens “you want to sleep here? We can drive tomorrow morning too” when we complain.

He drives ridiculously fast on the last 50km in the dark so I have to think of the two dead bodies on the street we have seen before and become a little worried. The humor in the car is in the through when he turns right 5 km before town. We start asking him where he is going but he doesn’t answer and just accelerates the car. We become really worried about the situation. Some of the guys see their hotel and ask to stop which is being ignored. Minutes later we stop at a dark bus stop out of town where several bus drivers surround us quickly. I get out of the bus last and try to make pressure but the others had agreed to pay him full before I had recognized. Usually when I have a deal with local people wherever on this planet I stick to it so I try to make pressure to make him bring us to the center which he refuses to do.

While I draw the attention of the bus drivers on me the swiss guys silently disappear which leaves me alone with the dutch guy who is the only one to have enough cochones to stay. Seing the others run away the driver starts hitting me and as nearly all witnesses have gone the last of us including me quickly jump on a Tuk Tuk to get away. A little later I recognize my left hand bleeding so he obviously had something more than his hand with which he was hitting in my direction. I remember some cruel street arms I have seen in cars in Thailand and a warning about people using Crystal Meth here. I remember now the strange crazy laughing of our driver earlier and am even more happy all of us were able to escape the situation. It would have been less dangerous if not more than half of the guys (we are all at least a head taller than the locals) of our group would have ran away so quickly. But this is life.

When I get of the Tuk Tuk in town I ask the first guy in uniform I see for the police. He speaks not a single word english and ask a nice woman in front of a restaurant. She is extremely nice, obviously very very sorry for what happened and after she had given a first aid treatment to my hand she calls a friend who is the manager of a hotel. When I had left the bus stand the driver was shouting after me that he would find and kill me which somehow proves that he had been on drugs when driving us. This worries me a lot at that moment so I don’t want to take a hotel right where I had been dropped off. The lady tells me her friend has rooms vacant, 20$ per night and an employee of the hotel will come and pick me up in two minutes. The hotel is amazing! Neverending hot water, AC, TV, WIFI, very nice style for 20$ per night? I must be dreaming! Bravo, the manager is extremely kind, calms me down and makes sure that I feel save. He tells me that Seam Reep is save and that the border is another province – problems with drivers from there are well known.
I take a hot shower and get an amazing dinner at the hotel. I take a mango shake to the room and after making a quick look at the internet and having another shower I decide to make a little walk to the night market Bravo had recommended. Seam Reeps only purpose are tourists – obviously. But still the place is not wasted people are very friendly though you have to haggle hard (but friendly) for everything. Im in desperate need a shave so I stop at a massage/barber parlour. Seems to become interesting – I have never before been shaved by a woman. She starts at my head using a machine and when half the head is done I recognize feeling hear stubbles around my neck. When I ask if she could but a towel around my neck we both burst out laughing and she says sorry still laughing many times. When the machine work is done she starts searching for the knife for a while, while I start to like her. We talk as usually talking at the barber and she asks me in a totally innocent way if I am travelling alone. When I say yes she ask in a tiny little bit less innocent way if I enjoy it. I say “A lot!!” and we both burst out laughing again. I am as all of you hopefully know, not at all interested in prostitution – but I have to admit this was by far the most nice offer I ever got! Not at all distgusting for the first time but rather funny and likeable. Knife seems to be in the drawer in front of her of which the key was missing at the moment because her children had had it to play at daytime…. I am not the only one who hasn’t had his best day today. She says sorry again and makes me promise to come back to get shaved tomorrow. I do, and I will.

Conclusion of the day: Try to avoid the all inclusive trips from Koh Chang to Angkor Wat, but if you have to cross this border overland it still is better to go there in a group – the bigger the better. DO NOT take a minivan at the border if you do this trip. If you choose to take a taxi choose it yourself and judge the driver wisely. Amongst all the borders I have ever crossed this one is amongst the worst. Officials are cool and fast forward, no problem. But the scams on that border are never ending and can really become very dangerous quickly. If you want to cross this border try to arrange a hotel in Seam Reep before and ask them to send a taxi to the border to pick u up. This is probably the only safe way.

My hotel for example, the Bayon Shadow Villa, which I really really want to recommend a lot, will be happy to arrange this for you.
Contact for the Bayon Shadow villa:
Reservation: (+855)888 888 651
Booking: (+855) 63 756 443

Koh Chang

Looking for a room for a reasonable price I ended up at Independent Bo at the north end of white sand beach which is run by Scottish. Minimum stay which has to be paid in advance is 3 days there and the son of the owner has been in Austria before obviously not having very nice experience there. He did all he could to take revenge on me and make me feel like shit during my stay. Thai people are not welcome at their place and most of the people who stay there are drug addicts who drink, smoke and god knows what else starting as soon as they get up. In the evening when they are tilt you will have a hard time falling asleep because people are fighting loudly until late in the night around your hut.

The real nice, cheaper and better place is pens bungalows a little before them. I stood most of my time on the beach there as there are mostly very nice thai people running the place. Food is amazing there too and whenever even passing the place I got amazing smiles. I should have known when they told me about the 3 days minimum at independent Bo but I was just too tired and desperate for a bed. At town you can see lot of disgusting old white males with nice Thai girls walking hand in hand. The beach itself is really beautiful and I believe if you go there out of season and stay in another place than I did it can be really nice. If you happen to come around call the guys from pens (0819004993 or 0861513744) they will for sure pick u up at the bus stop and help you to carry your luggage down the beach. Co mpared to independent they really have amazing rooms and if there hadn’t been the minimum stay of 3 days (which is probably the only possible way to make people not run away after the first night) I would have moved there the first morning on the beach. Tomorrow I am leaving to Cambodia to enjoy Angkor Wat – one of the biggest shiva temples in the world. Foreigners really spoiled Thailand and I am so happy to have met “my” Bangkok family first when coming to Thailand so I experienced the amazing hospitality and kindness of Thailand before seeing what I saw here.


After an incredible exhausting journey including a 14 hour layover in Moscow I arrived in Bangkok yesterday morning. First thing I recognize is the people here who are extremely friendly helpful and hospitable! After trying to install internet settings (its hopeless) I take the train to town to search a place a friend recommended to stay – hopeless either. But nevermind I find some very nice people in a small riverside café who organize a guesthouse for me. The river is full of fish and I regret not having taken any fishing gear at all. The host picks me up and in the afternoon I get an amazing room in between temples with air condition, fridge and shower for a little more than 10 euro per night! I find a barber just around the corner who is not willing to shave my head but at least cutting the hair with machine so I look like shaved 3 days ago (head) and one day ago (face). Nice guy but the quality of his work…. Well. After that I take a moped taxi to find me a guitar and change some money. Guitar is found immediately money changing takes a little more time . When we come back to the music shop it is closed already but my driver doesn’t give up knocking and asking the neighbours so 10 minutes later I get an amazing 40 euro guitar and the driver gets a great tip (smiling from one ear to the other when I put the money in his hand). Being very tired I fall asleep at 9pm and sleep until 3:30 pm next day which is 9 in the morning where I have been 2 days ago. I make a little walk so see the surrounding area and again I recognize people here being extremely friendly helpful and hospitable. I told my host yesterday I only have coffee in the morning and as breakfast is included he offers dinner instead. His daughter who speaks a little English helps me with everything I need and after dinner (kinda brunch in my time setting) I get a great relaxing thai massage. My host even drove me to the massage shop and I walked back later. Thinking about visiting famous Khao sang road I am just too tired… Tomorrow I want to continue to Ayutthaya temple a little north of Bangkok! Changed my mind and went to Koh Chang. Just sitting at a beach restaurant surrounded by old german who have booze while smoking pre rolled joints and discussing problems from their workplaces at home while getting really done…. Where am I? The beach is full of luxury resorts for >100Euro per night with real white people lying in front of them getting backed. Glad I found the last hippie place on the beach which is a little cheaper but no rooms for less than 3 nights. Still I think about leaving sooner, I really can’t stand that atmosphere. Cambodia is just around the corner and my host recommended not to go there because there is only criminals there. I heard comments like this in places like this several times on my journeys and it always proved that places being advertised like this where the places I enjoyed a lot. Mostly people are afraid to lose the customers going there – but hey better criminals than this! Still the nature on the island is incredibly nice and the local people are so too. There are beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds and rare short tailed makaks. I start understanding all the prejustice about Falang people and get a big compliment by my Bangkok host as she tells me I am not like them at all. I would love to experience more of the loving Thai culture I have seen and felt in Bangkok but this is hard in a place like this where tourists start the day with cocktails and beer. However if you come round Bangkok and need a clean, hospitable and extremely nice place to stay contact Baan Tunyatorn Guesthouse and Coffee shop in Phetkasem 19 Road in Thonburi Bangkok. You can call 092-046-5568 or 083-832-2220 or visit their facebook at www.facebook.com/Baantunyatorn