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jimster

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About jimster

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  1. Cambodian VOA at Hat Lek / Koh Kong

    For tourist visas, it's normally not a big effort to get the official price. However, it's tough getting the official price for ordinary (business visas) at Koh Kong, no matter how nicely you play it they will want an extra $5-10 on top of the official price, reasoning that you need official documents to be afforded the "real" price (which, despite the government starting to make it tougher to get an extension of stay is not true for most nationalities). That's been my experience at Cham Yeam (Koh Kong). Other checkpoints like Poipet, no problems getting the official price on ordinary visas.
  2. Not necessarily. The Sikhs (the ones with turbans and hook noses) are naturalized citizens for the most part, but there are only around 30,000 of them nationally out of a population of 69 million - I have never seen any Indians out in the sticks, except tourists or perhaps Indo-Burmese labourers but even they tend to be rare outside the cities. Thailand is not multicultural like Malaysia or Singapore and upon seeing an Indian looking person, both Thais and foreigners assume they are foreigners until made known otherwise. Other "Indians" who may actually be Bengali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Nepalese or Indo-Burmese are foreigners and working illegally. I know how to tell them apart quite easily, the ones who are speaking any language other than Thai aren't Thai, period. They are usually hired due to their good to excellent English skills. There are a ton of people from the sub-continent who are working illegally in Thailand.
  3. Sihanouk airport upgrade on track

    Yes. Your analogy is exactly right - I fear SHV will go the way of Phuket or be even worse. I believe it was in 87 when I first went to Phuket but can't remember it now as I was too young. The posters we purchased from our family holiday back then made Phuket and other Thai beach destinations look more like Samoa, the Cook islands or Tahiti than the more familiar look we are used to now.
  4. Probably, I mean Prachuab is just 19km from the border with Myanmar. So it's kinda strange to find a Laotian national in that part of Thailand when so many Myanmar nationals can come through the nearby border to work in Thailand if necessary. If it was Isarn, he would have blended in far more easily.
  5. You may be right, but since the Casinos are located on Cambodian soil, their officials make the most from this arrangement. Thai officials have no control over what happens outside of their territory - even if they have substantial holdings in these places, if the Cambodian government wants to shut up shop, they can do so without giving notice. I think you are overestimating the amount of power Thai officials have over what happens on the other side of the border. Thai officials can't even get Cambodians to agree to allow their cars to enter Cambodia at most border crossings - that shows you how much power they have.
  6. Sihanouk airport upgrade on track

    Are you referring to the city or the airport? The last time I flew into Phuket was when I was a little boy, the only trip I've made since then was by car a couple of years ago now. So I can't really give an objective opinion of Phuket airport but from the pictures I've seen it looks like Don Muang and is about as inefficient. Only time I've been to SHV airport was in 2011 to view an art exhibition there, the airport itself was closed for flights as no airlines flew there at the time. As for Phuket itself it's OK, my stereotypes of the place were both confirmed and shattered at the same time when I was there. Most of the island is just like any other Thai province, except you see more holidaymakers and expats. The main tourist areas around Karon/Patong are sleezy, overdeveloped, relatively expensive and full of package tourists, girlie bars, discos, jetski scams and everything else the place has become renowned for. Kamala/Surin/Bang Tao are more upmarket and surrounding areas quite nice. Downtown is ordinary, nothing particularly exciting except for the Sino-Portuguese architecture similar to Penang, KL and Singapore. Sihanoukville seems quite similar though in many respects, you have a few built up areas like Sokha beach, independence and occheuteal beaches but the haphazard construction of condos/hotels built by Chinese contractors in places like Sokha beach while at the same time you have this juxtaposition of empty land, beach shacks and sandy roads on under developed otres beach is quite strange. Those tall 30 storey Chinese monstrosities going up in a couple of places are really ugly, hope that won't be the future for Sihanoukville. If it is, then Phuket will come out on top.
  7. Cambodia Thai Vietnam bus service

    This might take many, many years to get off the ground. Although Vietnam is reportedly allowing 20 Thai trucks a day in at the Lao Bao crossing to deliver/pick up goods at Danang, I think they will take a long time to approve Thai buses driving into the country. Then again, it might not be that difficult to drive the 80km from the Cambodian border to downtown HCMC; Cambodian buses have been doing it for years but it would be the first time Thai RHD buses will be driving in Vietnam.
  8. You mentioned you went to Phnom Penh last December? How much time did you spend there? On every one of the 3 trips where I've driven my Thai car to Phnom Penh (I'm not counting returning through Phnom Penh on the same trip a few days later as a separate occasion so technically you could say I've been 5 times) I've been stopped by the police. The first two encounters were pleasant enough, the most recent one was a little bit more annoying. First time I was stopped was on Norodom blvd, just south of the roundabout near the first lights where you have all those ATMs on both sides of the road. After being relieved of $3, off I went. Second time on another occasion I was relieved of the equivalent of $3 in Vietnamese dong on Monivong blvd. Third time again on Norodom near the st. 110 intersection the young officer was being a bit of a smartypants so I had to give him $5, because he was proceeding to write up a ticket for not having any "Cambodian customs temp. import papers" even though I mentioned that these aren't provided at the border. First he wanted $50, then $10 and finally I was able to get him to stop writing on his pad for $5. Best advice I have to avoid getting stopped in Phnom Penh (apart from removing your license plates perhaps) is to avoid driving along Monivong blvd, between the Russian blvd (airport road) intersection and the Vietnamese embassy (st. 466) and Norodom between the st. 110 intersection that leads to Russian blvd and the Mao Tse Tung blvd intersection between the hours of approx. 7am and 6pm. North and south of these intersections are embassy and government offices, so you're unlikely to see traffic police there. Driving along these streets at night is fine, the police don't work then. I'm not sure of the exact hours when Cambodian traffic police work, but I think it's reasonable to assume between the hours I've mentioned (from Mon to Sat at least, not sure about Sun) - every intersection I drove past on Norodom last time I got stopped had police and then I was finally stopped at the last police post before turning onto st. 110. It seems there are more police on Norodom than Monivong, so it's possible to drive along Monivong for a block or two if need be even during the day (for example to go to Lucky!Lucky!) before turning onto a side street. There could also be police on other major roads but have never encountered anything. Saw some police on Russian blvd close to the intersection with Monivong but didn't pass through there otherwise that whole road seems to be fine. Driving along sides streets like st. 57/63 to go north/south is best and traffic is better anyway, you don't encounter as many traffic lights. No problems near the riverside either or anywhere along the outskirts of town. It's only on the main roads in the city center (downtown) where you need to be careful.
  9. Yes they are starting to hold the blue books more often. For some reason, there is no consistency when it comes to whether the customs papers or the blue book will be held. I've been seeing Cambodian customs randomly ask for one or the other depending on their mood or other factors. Strange that he remembered you well enough to ask you to delete his pic days later. Perhaps because there were so few vehicles passing in/out of there? Although I also like crossing borders in the morning where possible, it almost never works out because I usually aim to drive all the way from home to my destination (in Cambodia or Laos) in one day so I usually arrive at the border in the afternoon. I try to leave early enough so I don't have to drive after dark at my destination, though that usually doesn't work out either - traffic, stops for meals, road works, the border crossing and the unpredictable nature of roads in Cambodia (and Laos, when I go there) never allow me to get to my destination on time - instead of an estimated 6pm it ends up being 9pm you get the drift. I have noticed that when crossing into Cambodia late, for example one trip I made where I headed to Koh Kong I crossed at 9pm and customs and immigration where very speedy on both sides of the border. Could well be some advantages to crossing at such times as officials want to go home and start speeding up things. Since my second trip to Cambodia by car, i've always entered and exited at Koh Kong where they would usually just hold the Thai customs temp export paper, though even back when I first went through there, I noticed they had a folder with blue books too. I've only ever been asked for the blue book myself this year, in previous years was never asked. Also noticed on my last trip on the way back to Thailand that in the folder with the temp export docs, there were a number of Malaysian registration docs in there too that were in the form of loose sheets of paper (maybe instead of a booklet, Malaysia issues paper registrations, idk?) However, on the day I entered Cambodia, a Malaysian pickup was parked in no man's land and I was told he wasn't allowed to enter, funnily though that same day a couple of hours later 5 Malaysian pickups were headed to Koh Kong (I assume they were going to cross the border into Thailand, because it is a border city and isn't a major tourist destination). Could be that the Malaysian pickup that wasn't allowed to enter didn't bring his registration and assumed that whatever docs worked for him at the Thai-Malaysia border would work at the Thai-Cambodia border. He knew well enough to use Koh Kong, rather than say Poipet which would have refused him entry, but since foreign vehicles leaving Thailand hand in all their Thai customs paperwork, these vehicles go into the next country without any docs apart from their home country registrations (and carnets etc. if necessary). Though there is still no system in place and there's really very little difference with the procedures from a couple of years ago, it seems that unless you are a regular that comes and goes regularly, often enough so that the customs people remember you, they want to ensure you really do exit at the same border crossing (by holding your registration documents) since that is what the Thai side now enforces on Cambodian private vehicles, all because Cambodia has for some unknown reason not yet signed a cross-border transport agreement covering private vehicles with Thailand, despite the best relations between the two countries in years, perhaps ever.
  10. How so? If the casinos are located on Cambodian territory, that country benefits. Thailand loses. There's a lot of negative things that can be said about casinos (which I will not go into here), but when it comes to the positive aspects, Thailand can't possibly gain any financial benefits from casinos that are located outside of it's territory. Your strange back-to-front logic doesn't make any sense either.
  11. I thought the Poipet checkpoint doesn't allow any Thai vehicles in, except those heading to the casinos located between the two immigration checkpoints. Of course, this may have been enough for princess, who didn't want to walk a few hundred metres (but would have been forced to walk past Cambodian immigration to the roundabout to wait for another vehicle to take her to the airport in Phnom Penh), but why didn't she flee through a checkpoint where cars are actually allowed to cross, such as Chong Chom or Hat Lek?
  12. I dunno, I went on two one week long business trips to India a few years ago and was absolutely shocked by the standard of the driving over there, which I found much worse than even in Thailand where people at least consider roads to be places only for vehicular traffic. Motorcyclists revving their engines and driving at breakneck speed down an alley in Kolkata (Calcutta) while terrified onlookers dove out of the way, the blind passing/overtaking, including that of our own driver constantly overtaking other vehicles without regard to whether or not there was an oncoming vehicle or not, drivers driving on the wrong side of the road, cows everywhere, people crossing the road oblivious to traffic, the strange mix of vehicles, people and animals on every road... Cambodia is also crazy but in a different way - blind overtaking but rather than doing so at breakneck speed like in India or Thailand, Cambodian drivers are like turtles - driving at 40km/h and then they overtake trucks at 41km/h, rather than speeding up and quickly overtaking they seem to take their time, forcing oncoming vehicles off the road.
  13. Just a few days ago I saw an idiot motorcyclist driving on the shoulder on the wrong side of a two-way, single carriageway road. The stupidity never ends it seems...
  14. Not true (anymore at least; what it was like 15-20 years ago I don't know). All new motorcycles and many new cars are sold with daytime running lights and can't be turned off unless they are disconnected or an on/off switch is installed. I own a car and motorcycle that both have daytime running lights. An increasing percentage of vehicles on Thai roads have their lights permanently "on", especially motorcycles built in the last 10 years but also cars, especially top model sedans, pickups and SUVs. In Cambodia it's illegal for a motorcycle to have daytime running lights and police will fine offenders. Strangely, there is no law that makes it illegal to not turn on your headlights at night. No problems for cars with daytime running lights though.
  15. Sudanese? Maybe I'm way off, but aren't Sudanese supposed to be black Africans? This guy looks more Arab, like someone from neighboring Egypt, Saudi Arabia or somewhere else in North Africa or the Middle East. I know this is a bit off-topic, but I was just wondering...
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