So armed with my best don't-fuck-with-me attitude, I disembarked from the train where I was immediately swarmed by dozens of touts, trying to take me for a ride (literally and figuratively).
This border crossing is notorious for being a place where tourists are scammed from dusk till dawn. In fact, I met a French couple last night, no strangers to SE Asia, who were themselves victim of the Visa scam.
So firm no followed firm no. I fended them off and picked up some lunch. Afterwards, I handily negotiated a fair price for my ride to the border, and spent the whole way there patting myself on the back for my toughness.
So I was a little suspicious when we pulled into what looked like the rear parking lot of a bank with a hand-painted "Visa" sign out front. Both the driver and a greeter (another red flag) assured me that this was the border, and where I would get my visa.
But being a girl who does her homework, I knew that all I needed on the Thai side was a stamp in my passport. So I tried to double-check with the greeter exactly what was going on, and when he tried to help me with my bag (red flag number 3) while explaining about the visa, I turned and yelled after my driver (strictly a no-no in Thailand, but so is thievery, I figure). He stopped, crazily enough, and I marched over, explaining that this was very much not the border and would he please take me where he said he was going to.
Which he did.
To be honest, I adore when people try to rip me off (see my Paris post on this same theme).
Also, these pics? The real border. I didn't quite have time to shoot the back lot "border."