It all started in Siem Reap, I was about to board a bus on my way to Bangkok. This long bus ride will be taking us to the Thailand-Cambodian border. Once there, we will be required an exit and entrance stamp from both border offices. It was going to be a long day because not only do I plan on travelling from Siem Reap to Bangkok; but, I also have to catch a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai later in the evening. It was a tight itinerary and not something I recommend that anyone should do.
The bus company sent out several tuk tuk drivers to pickup tourist from various hotels and take them to the bus depot. As soon as we all arrived, they started loading up our stuff and got us seated. We were ready to go. So far so good.
The drive to the Cambodian border was uneventful for the most part. I made friends with a guy from Finland and spent my time just chatting him up before we arrive.
The nightmare begins at the Cambodian border
As soon as we arrived, I thought it was going to be a simple process. I go inside, get my passport stamp, and away I go to the Thailand side.
Not so fast. Upon arriving at the front of the counter, the Cambodian border control officer told me I need to show him a physical copy of my e-visa. What? I gave my physical copy when I arrived at Phnom Penh, I didn’t know I was going to need another copy to exit the country…
He threw my passport at me rudely and told me to get it printed or I can’t pass through. Great…I thought. How am I going to do that?
And to make matters worst, the bus I was in already went through the other side of the border with my belongings. Hopefully it doesn’t leave me as I hunt down a place I can print my Cambodian e-visa.
The hunt for a printer begins
I start walking from business unit to business unit hoping someone can help me. However, none of them had a printer. I even rode on a random motorcycle taxi hoping the guy knows a place that has a printer. I was having no luck at all!
Finally, I end up in a casino and I start begging if they have a printer I can use to print my evisa. I even offered to pay them money!
Good people is found everywhere
The staff in the casino looked at me and felt bad. They did have a printer but it was broken so they started repairing it. By pure luck, they managed to fix it! I emailed them my e-visa (thank god I bought a Cambodian SIM card) and they printed it out for me. They were really nice and even refused my money.
Off I went back to the Cambodian border office and got my passport stamped. Then I hiked far away to the Thailand border and started lining up at border control.
It took me three hours to get through because there was only three officers stamping passports and the lineup was insanely long.
My bus and belongings are gone!
As soon as I got through to the other side, I quickly began searching for my bus. Where is it? I couldn’t find it at all. Finally, I see a bus that looks similar to my bus but as I go inside, it turns out it was another bus.
I go back to the street but no one can speak English on the Thai side. Finally, a random person calls me up and tells me my bus has left me cause I took too long.
Great…my belongings was in that bus! Was I going to get it back or was it lost cause?
The guy tells me he can put me in that bus I just saw and it will take me to Bangkok. I ask him if I can get my bag back and he said try the bus depot when I arrive.
And so after waiting for another hour, the bus leaves and starts driving towards the Bangkok bus depot. At this point, I resigned that I am defeated. I will probably never see my bag with all my belonging inside and I will miss my flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
A miracle happens
After a long drive, we finally made it to Bangkok. I start looking around asking the Thai people if they know where my previous bus is. To my surprise, it was parked in the bus depot. I start asking around if they can open it so I can see if my belongings was still inside. A random guy appears out of nowhere and opens it for me.
Wow, my bag was still inside! I was so happy to see my bag and I thank whatever higher power there is out there for helping me retrieve it! Immediately, I check the time and see that if I have time to make it to the airport to catch my flight. Yes I do have time.
Quickly, I withdraw cash from an ATM machine and an aggressive taxi driver sells me a taxi ride to the airport. I know I’m getting ripped off but whatever, at this point, I am so happy I got my bag back and will probably make it to the airport on time.
I somehow made my flight to Chiang Mai!
The traffic was bad the drive was long. But with one hour left to spare, I made it to the airport! I checked my bags in the front counter of Air Asia, quickly grabbed a bite and made it onboard the plane that took me to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Karma is real. The day before, I was very generous at tipping people in Siem Reap. Good fortune smiled at me and what started as a nightmare situation turned out to be a miracle that I could have never imagined.
It was one of the craziest border crossing adventure I’ve ever had and since starting my one year around the world trip.