Then it hits the fan.
Like a hard technical riding section, pics are the last thing we think about at the time. But anyway, we clear Laos and move 100 yards further to the Cambodian entry. Oddly, the guy in the Immigration building, no more than a small wooden booth, waves us on to Customs. His english is ok, his meaning clear: Customs first.
There’s no-one there and we wait. After 30 minutes a young guy shows up on a heavily modified, tricked-out Grom. He’s also in a wooden booth/building. He smiles, asks for my papers. Looking at them, he asks for my Carnet. But Cambodia isn’t a Carnet country. I say “Cambodia isn’t a Carnet country”. He smiles and waves a small stack of Carnet stubs at me (he’s extracted them from others). I’m really, really surprised. I have fucked up I think. For the first since not knowing the 90 day exit before renewal rule in Guatemala. My Carnet’s expired and I don’t need one until after it’s renewed.
He doesn’t give me any hint that he’s looking for a bribe. The worst mistake you can make with an honest official is get a bribe offer wrong. Jail. Cambodian jail, lol! (I know two riders who’ve spent nights in jail, hilarious)
Then I remember a horror story about how a Cambodian border official had screwed some rider over, trapped him between borders, and had confiscated his bike, permanently. So I got on Lucinda and got out of there fast.
I get back to the hotel at dark and find out I’ve been screwed. No Carnet required. I’ve hit the worst border in the most corrupt country in SE Asia and got played. This would not normally be a problem and normally I’d laugh, but this time we have a problem. My visa has now expired.
So having to exit Laos before it gets any worse, the next morning I head for the Thai border, which conveniently is only 90K away. I’ve emailed my friend that our travel plans are delayed. She crossed without problems.
Slightly nervous about my day-late Laos exit, we get across with only minor problems, like Customs wanting to us to buy insurance first, which for a moto couldn’t be found without a long cab ride into the next town, leaving the bike unattended. We promised him we would do it the next day and he kindly and unusually accepted.
In Ubon I have a very serious chat with myself. I have to go back to Vancouver at some point soon for my Pakistan visa and to possibly assist with my new Carnet. But this ride has taken far longer than expected and will take much longer to complete. I’ve missed Christmas at home for the 3rd time due to visa realities, despite 4 return trips, and I miss my (adult) daughters. So I ponder something I’ve been thinking about. Going home for a strategic break in the big picture.
Or do I cut back across a reputable border into Cambodia, just south of where I am? How does my friend figure into this?
I never post pictures of where I stay, mainly because it would add to the content when the objective is to streamline it. But here’s a pic of Brent, ex-Peace Corps who with his wife built the Outside Inn in Ubon Ratchathani. Stay here, the food is brilliant and the huge pints cold. We had plenty of good discussions and more than a few beers as I came to my big decision
OK, so now we’re headed for Bangkok, just a couple of days away.
Having made a decision I start the quick ride directly to Bangkok. It’s not a great road. Big traffic through an unattractive part of the country.