Crossing Borders

Trip Start Feb 20, 2012
Trip End Oct 22, 2012

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Flag of Cambodia  , Kâmpóng Cham,
Sunday, April 1, 2012

10 km by feet. We could have paid the touristy price to get to the first town after the border, but I could not accept such a high price. I have my feet and I can walk down till the main road. With a bit of tension here and there also my sister did it. For basically the same price we managed to reach Kampong Cham, the small town were we could take the bus to Siem Reap. Just few kilometers after our random collection point on the main road, we picked up a bunch of tourists coming form Don Det. There was a seat missing, and I accepted to seat in front with the driver and the owner of the bus. He was somehow happy of us, showed me the price the party-party guys were paying to get to the same city we were heading to. We paid half the price, almost, and he kept tapping on my shoulder saying that he liked me while we were running direction Cambodia

I hate borders. I always hated them. It depends on the fact that I've been a foreigner in my country for so many years. It depends on the uncontrolled power that the officers can have on the people that need to pass in their sneaky net. Step one, Laotian side, they asked some extra dollars each for 'overtime work' meaning you need to pay if you want to have your exit stamp or you will lose your bus. Managed to have discount after a lot of talking and discussing. Will never forget the asymmetric face of the officer, his thin mustache, his arrogance, and of course his big golden ring. Step two, the same rings were waiting on the other side of the border. Again discussions, lot of discussions. Luckily in the end I realized that being corrupt doesn't mean to know math, started from paying in kip and changed to dollars and then to kip and then to bath and then to a mix of the three currency, in the end we managed to pay way less than what they refused at the first offer and they also give as a waver for the next steps of the process (no more tea money for the one opening the passport, the one looking for an empty page, the one putting the stamps, and the one stapling) Each one with a big golden ring. At the end of all this the bus owner received us with couple of more taps on the shoulder. The party-tourists with couple of yawns. Sorry guys, too much fun in trying not to pay assholes.

The first Cambodia we saw is a flat land, covered with dark clouds. Looking outside and reading the history of the Khmer Rouge I keep repeating to myself the words used to describe Cambodia in those days: an endless open air jail. It might depend from the fact that I'm born at the feet of the Elbourz mountains, I've moved the first steps on the hills of Tuscany, I spent my turbulent years embraced by Alps, and finally moved in Milan, where there are concrete mountains hiding inconvenient horizons. But i know, it has always been like this, the continuum flat lands give me a entrapment feeling. All this is mixed with the impression of the genocide that has been consumed in this land. I'm tired, and curious about the coming days. Curious to understand, if possible. As much as possible. While looking out of the window I start to collect similarities and differences. You could easily say that everything is the same, and everything is different. It is a matter of how many details you want to compare. But there is one thing that makes me already love this country in this moment. I'm drawn and outside is just full of women dressed with pyjamas! I close the eyes and wait to arrive.
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