Never knew I would be responsible for starting a border conflict where both borders would refuse each car and motorbike to cross.
Last Monday we needed to go to Vietnam to collect cacao pods for our new cacao nursery. Although I had the right forms to cross, the Cambodian officers advised me to add more immigration paperwork to my documents because I was probably the first white person to cross this local border. Dak Dam is not a so-called international border.
Crossing a border between countries in South East Asia is always a bit strange and sometimes difficult, but this case was really exceptional.
Once we reached the Vietnamese side, they couldn’t say anything about my papers, but instead, one of the grumpy officers noted that the paperwork of our car was out of date. There were new forms, and we should use these. Note that my staff crossed this border two months ago with the same car.
It was already 4 PM and sent back to Cambodia we decided that my two staff members would go alone the next day. The Cambodian custom officers confirmed our suspicion that not the car but my presence was actually the whole trigger.
The next morning my staff crossed again but was sent back again as well, still based on lacking of a new form of which no Cambodian official had any clue.
The Cambodian custom officers were furious. This was it! They were already irritated by the unpredictable behavior of the Vietnamese side but now they decided to take action: no Vietnamese truck or motorbike was allowed to cross anymore.
The chief of immigration of our province had by chance an official meeting that afternoon in Buon Ma Thuot in Vietnam, and he had to go with an official delegation in six cars. He offered my staff to add our car to their convoy. And so it happened. My staff crossed the border in the afternoon without any problem and was also able to return the next day with the same convoy, and with the desired cacao pods.
As far as I know right now, there is now a one on one policy at the Dak Dam border: for every Cambodian car that is allowed to enter Vietnam, a Vietnamese car or truck might enter Cambodia. I wonder how long this ‘stand-off’ will last.
Live in this remote area of Cambodia is never boring 😉