Vietnam Visa: Getting a New Vietnam Visa from Cambodia – Part 1
Vietnam Visa: Getting a New Vietnam Visa from Cambodia – Part 2
Out of the frying pan, into … the dark of a Bavet night.
Almost maniacally refusing to even acknowledge the existence of my watch, when I finally get down with drawing up contingency plans for the myriad far-fetched scenarios I’d dreamed up, dusk has well and truly become night. Feeling somewhat more secure for having gone through the contingency planning process, I decide to eat, have another Angkor beer and prioritize the scenarios. I finally look at my watch. It’s 6:45pm.
I’ve prioritized the scenarios from most to least likely and have almost finished eating when the Cambodian motorcycle man rides up. He sits and we chat for a little while I chow down on the last of the roast field quail I’d ordered. Good news. The visa guy will be here in about 30 minutes. Almost at once it seems a weight greater than Atlas ever bore is lifted from my shoulders. I feel sheepish at myself that I’d ever let my brain go crazy with all that ‘what-if’ stuff … until ‘moto-man’ says: “Finish up. We go.”
“What? Go where?”, I ask.
He replies “Can’t do it here. Too public. We go to house. Next to Pagoda.”
Given the other available choices, absolutely none, I get on the back of his bike, cursing myself that only minutes earlier I had been presumptuous enough to consider everything ‘done & dusted’. We squirt off out of the eatery and turn right onto the bitumen main drag of Bavet. Past the garishly lit, flashing neon poverty factories and then into the unlit darkness of Bavet by night.
A thousand grisly thoughts try to simultaneously occupy my thinking capacity. Will I be mugged? By how many? Where? Will they be armed? What with? Worse still, drugged, mugged and cast listless into a ditch somewhere? Why is he going so far, surely this town can’t be that big? While my thoughts run rampant, moto-man slows and we pull off the left side of the road in front of an open fronted-house. I get off and moto-man beckons me in.
It’s a small wayside eatery at the front of a modest, ramshackle but neat & tidy Cambodian home. Two older guys are watching the news on a flickering color TV. It’s a Samsung. Moto-man introduces the two guys as his “neighbors”, even though he’d said earlier he didn’t live in town anymore. I decide it must be the ‘drug & mug’ method. “Don’t eat or drink anything!” I think to myself. Moto-man offers tea & cassava. I decline. He insists I have something. It would be poor form to refuse hospitality, he says. I say I’ll get my own from the shelf along the side wall. I choose a coke, open it & politely say no thank you when the ice is offered.
Hey hey it’s Visa-man!
The news watcher’s speak no English and I no Khmer, but they do speak some Vietnamese so we use that language. The usually pleasantries are exchanged and some light-hearted banter. A young women of about 21-22 comes out of the house in a uniform from one of the casinos. The older guy, the owner of the house, and the young woman’s father asks “Which women are more beautiful: Australian, Vietnamese or Khmer?”, accompanied by raunchy gestures. I give my standard diplomatic answer designed for giving a laugh without giving offense: “I honestly can’t tell when the lights are off!” Older guy roars with laughter and hits the table so hard he launches the teapot into the dirt.
At this point a car pulls up out the front and toots its horn. It’s the visa-man! We take leave of the news watchers and go to greet him. He tells me everything is fine and I should get into the car. Once in the car and heading back towards the casino strip, visa-man hands over my passport and I check the visa. Phew! It’s a “B3” for 3 months …. but only a single entry. Oh well, I can stay put in Vietnam for three months I guess.
On the way to the border, the car stops several times to let the other three occupants out. We finally get out opposite the eatery where I’d spent the day. Having achieved Goals 1, 2 and 3, all that was left was Goal 4: Get back into Vietnam.
Back to the frontier!
We breeze through the Cambodian exit procedures and across the inter-zone. As we approach the Vietnamese entry hall, visa-man slips a US$20 inside my passport and takes me to the front of the line. The Vietnamese Border Policeman on the Immigration desk tries to hit me with a glowering glare but with a mildly scoffing laugh I let him know I know where to the dough goes. He doesn’t flinch, slams the entry stamp into my passport and flips it derisively in my direction. I resist the temptation to tell him I don’t give a shit what he thinks, I’m HOME AT LAST!
Back on Vietnamese soil at last, we hook-up with my ‘minder’. Shortly after, the Vietnamese ‘fixer’ arrives. He bluffs and blusters, belittles the Cambodian ‘fixers’ with the most racially disparaging vitriol I’ve ever heard spoken in Vietnam, and all the while still trying to justify his $150. My minder is having none of it and successfully recoups $100 from the blithering buffoon. Just to show that I’m not without malice, I tip the Cambodian ‘fixer’ right in front of his eyes AND get his phone number. The Vietnamese buffoon protests vehemently but I ignore the useless sod.
The ride back to Saigon is uneventful. We get home about 10:30pm and everybody dog-tired, but happy. All’s well that ends well on an eventful day. Not a care in the world … until I need my next Vietnam Visa in 3 months time!