Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 9 September 2005

The Gecko: 9 September 2005

The Gecko: 9 September 2005

An

expat returning to work in Cambodia after a few months' absence rolled up to the

Poipet border last week, confident of getting a one-month employment visa in exchange

for US$25, as he had many times before. A well-spoken young man outside the Visa

window introduced himself as "here to help you with your visa" and handed

him an application form. Expat fills in the form, and for "Purpose of visit"

writes "Business." The man says if you want a business visa you must have

these papers as well as your passport, and points to the sign: "Applicationfor

a business visa requires supporting documents: 1. Foreigner employment card; 2. Foreigner

work permit; 3. Application form for business." Panic-stricken expat contemplates

the long road back to Bangkok and waves his passport, with all its work permits:

"Come on, I've never been asked for those papers before. See what you can do."

Young man disappears inside the Visa office with passport and $25, and after a long

10 minutes re-emerges with passport complete with employment visa stamp. But is this

a harbinger of things to come?

** If you're short of the readies for a flight to Bangkok, four bus companies in

Phnom Penh leave early each morning for Poipet at around $5 for the six-or-seven-hour

trip. Once through the border 10 baht will get you a public taxi to Aranyaprathet,

and 200 baht for a five-hour bus trip to Mo Chit in Bangkok. But it's not so easy

coming the other way. The four companies run 11 buses each morning from Poipet to

Phnom Penh for $5 a person, but the last one leaves at 8 a.m. After that you're at

the mercy of three notionally competing "transport associations" set up

under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism - Tourism Department of Banteay Meanchey

Province." These are the compulsory intermediaries at the bus station between

you and the share taxis which are the only way out of town to Phnom Penh after 8

a.m., or at any hour to Siem Reap. The prices per person are $10 to Siem Reap, $4

to Sisophon, $8 to Battambang, and $15 to Phnom Penh. The taxis, marshaled by the

local police and almost all without license plates and the driver on the right, get

about two-thirds of the fare, with the rest going to the "association."

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