Overland Borders are always unpredictable. They are vulnerable sometimes even if you are super-duper innocent. The security measures keep changing from time to time. Therefore, sufficient research and preparation are compulsory before reaching the borders. Some borders are only open for a few months in a year due to weather issues, example as Karkara Valey Border which only opens from June to October every year due to the extreme weather. The hassle and the danger in overland border crossing must not be compromised in any situation.
1. Proper Documents
Make sure you have acquired all documents such as visa, permit required by the visiting country before reaching the border. If the visa is to be granted on arrival, make sure you have prepared the passport size photographs in a few copies in advance preferably 2 copies for each country and other supporting documents required. Most of the overland borders doesn’t have the facility to take photos. Don’t overlook the information captured in your passport. We normally only care about the name and passport number. Keep in mind that a simple mistake of your height noted in the passport could easily lead to chaos, even a few centimeters just like what I faced at Laos-China border.
2. Operating Hours of The Borders
Since the security measures changes from time to time, the operating hours of the particular border changes too. Best way to know exactly, ask the local people, especially the truck drivers who are heading towards the border (if they are friendly ask for a hitchhike). Do not approach the taxi drivers. They may manipulate the information just to grab your money. Another ways is, try to google for the the Federal Council/Custom Department/Immigration Department of the particular country.
3. Be Confident, hide your nervousness
The chances for interrogation is very high during overland borders especially when you are solo or when you are a very uncommon traveler in that route. It also a very painful process sometimes. So, be cooperative during the checking. The process can sometimes irritate you. Don’t show your anger. Try to be polite with the officers even if they are rude. The process can easily put you under stress, but try to hide your nervousness and show confident body language to avoid deeper extended checking.
4. Pack your kindness until finishing your crossing
Overland borders are targets for many forms of syndication among few countries. That is beyond our control. To escape from being a scapegoat, simply do not help anyone to carry their bags even they are handicapped. Pack your kindness tightly until you finish your crossing. Do not entertain anyone during your process of crossing borders. I have experienced during China Kazakhstan Border crossing, where one of the passenger (elderly man) was very helpful and friendly to me during the journey asked me to carry one of his bag. without second thought I helped, luckily nothing happened. After the cross I regretted for my immature action and the reason for it was I am obliged to him.
5. Do not carry any prohibited items.
Be rational when taking some items crossing the borders. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. A legal item in your country can be illegal in other countries. Respect their systems and law. Importantly, make sure your smartphone /whatsapp message box/gallery and your laptop are not corrupted with inappropriate pictures and videos. Maybe it could be not yours truly, could be a forwarded picture from your friend. But remember, when you get caught no one will be there for you to help. So, make sure they are completely clean. The officers have all the rights to check your phone and camera thoroughly. Additionally, do not try to photograph the facilities and officials around the borders, especially the army around the border.
HI…..thank you so much for the time you spent at my site. My name is Suresh Narayanan. 44 years, solo traveler from Malaysia. I am very passionate on solo travelling, especially overland travelling by train, bus and boat. So far I have traveled Transsiberian Train Journey covering from Guangzhou, China to St Petersberg, Russia. In 2016, I crossed on Silk Road from Xian, China to Istanbul, Turkey covering China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Turkey. I also covered a rare route from Seremban, Malaysia to Seoul Korea overland crossing, Thailand, Laos, China and South Korea.
Most of my blogs speak more about incidents occurred during the journey. Hope you will enjoy reading, and again thank you so much.