We’d done so well. Nearly 20,000km travelled, and only one bribe paid so far. Well, the Cambodia/Laos border added two more in the space of minutes. By all accounts, we actually did pretty well limiting it to just that.
This border is renowned for corruption, with guards only too keen to help relieve you of a dollar or two. Even the hostels advise you to just pay them. We managed to escape Cambodia without paying the ‘customary’ $2 stamp fee (!). I think they were just surprised that we’d actually stopped in the right place, and managed to spot their particularly inconspicuous Customs hut!
We even got past the first guards into Laos for free – despite a “10,000K” spray down with ‘disinfectant’. (“Oh, you don’t have Kip? That’s $2!” – it’s actually about $1.25!). The insistence on them giving us a receipt worked here – although admittedly I’m not sure how, as they were brandishing a receipt at us, but they didn’t hand it over, and as a result, we handed over no cash, and they soon got bored and waved us through.
It was at the main visa/immigration booth that we came slightly unstuck. They have your passport you see, and therefore hold all the trump cards! You do, after all, want to get in to their country! All in all, we each paid $1 extra to get an on-arrival visa, and a $2 stamp fee. Still, $38 each isn’t bad (it was $35 for a UK national), and the carnet made customs a doddle. He even stamped it in the right place this time – and for free!!
We were in!