Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Half a dozen border gates with Vietnam

I'm a bit slow with this news as the most recent international border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam opened for business on 15 December, but here it is anyway. Cambodian visas are available (you'll have to get your Vietnamese one beforehand) at the new border checkpoint which is located in Ratanakiri province and is called the O'Yadaw - Le Tanh crossing, leading into Vietnam's Gia Lai province. To be honest, it's been an unofficial crossing for a while but has now been declared the official, and sixth, international border-crossing between the two countries. All they have to do now is get on with completing the 'road from hell', the 75kms stetch of highway (not!) between Ban Lung, the provincal capital, and the border itself. This follows on the heels of the opening of the border at Ha Tien in the southwest corner of Cambodia. There's also announcements this week that Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to initiate a single visa for entry into both countries. No details yet but if the existing visa cashflow dries up for some as a result of this breakthrough, there's going to be a lot of unhappy faces in the kingdom. Thailand sees 15 million visitors per year, Cambodia gets 2 million.

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I've had a bad day today with a stomach upset that won't disappear.
Last night, I attended the film show at the Two Fish Gallery, with photographer and conservationist Wayne McCallum introducing the 15-minute documentary, Cardamom Mountains - Cambodia's Last Wilderness. The film shows some of the conservation initiatives taking place in this beautiful part of the country but I'm still concerned that different groups like Wildlife Alliance and Conservation International each have their own pet projects in the Cardamoms but there doesn't seem to be a master-plan or top-level overview by the government to ensure these projects and others are entirely beneficial. Wayne answered a few questions from the audience, having shown the film in English and Khmer and then handed out free copies of the dvd. His own series of photographs of the area are on exhibition at the Two Fish.

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