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Most dramatic change crossing a border

Which border crossings in the world have other travel bloggers found have brought about the most abrupt change between the country that has been left and the country that has been arrived in.
17 years ago, May 7th 2006 No: 1 Msg: #5535  
Which border crossings in the world have other travel bloggers found have brought about the most abrupt change. I was thinking most along the lines of the "standard" of the country (infrastructure, quality of life, e.t.c), but it could easily be related to the change in the personality of the local people as well.

For me it was the crossing at Poipet between Cambodia and Thailand. After taking 7 or 8 hours to do the 100 miles or so from Siem Reap to the border, along a road which would be more aptly described as a series of interconnected craters and watching young boys ploughing the fields with beasts of burden, I crossed into Thailand to be greeted by a panoramic bus with movies and reclining seats and by service stations lining the side of a fully paved road. Needless to say it took only about four hours to travel the much greater distance to Bangkok in incredible comfort!!!

Was wondering what contrasts others had experienced elsewhere in the world. Reply to this

17 years ago, June 22nd 2006 No: 2 Msg: #6288  
B Posts: 6
Well I don't know if this falls within what you are looking for, but, one that hit me was crossing by foot from Macau to Mainland China. I know Macau is now part of China again, but the difference was kinda shocking. Macau is a beautiful city with a mix of Portuguese & Chinese architecture, pretty clean, air quality not too bad, somewhat westernized in some ways, amongst many other things. BUT when I crossed the border and arrived in Zhuhai, Guangdong, Oh my! It was definitely China. The air quality, the crowds, the pushing, shoving, the noise, the dirt, the stares, etc... Quite a change.

Although I do agree with you on Poipet. I did that one a few months back. From the "backbreaking minibus ride in Cambodia, to the Super deluxe coach in thailand", goodness! Reply to this

17 years ago, June 27th 2006 No: 3 Msg: #6384  
For me it was dropping off the 'Edge of Europe' on the Russian / Mongolian border at Khyatka in 2001. I'd got special permission to go by road across the border from the Vice-president of the Russian Autonomous Republic of Buyatia himself in Ulan-Ude. Up until the last check at the last (military) border gate, I was let through and suddenly my wheels dropped several inches off nicely paved tarmac - onto sandy gravel. I'd eventually arrived in the 'real' Asia! Reply to this

17 years ago, June 28th 2006 No: 4 Msg: #6391  
N Posts: 1
crossing from the dominican republic into haiti is like crossing from a lush jungle, replete with waterfalls and postcard perfect beaches (at least some) into a old desert ghost town, the ground instantly dries up, people sweep dust from their yards, and the hot wind blows... Reply to this

17 years ago, June 28th 2006 No: 5 Msg: #6401  
I can think of 2:
1. the crossing between Loredo (Mexico) and New-Loredo (Texas, USA) - a suddent change from latin america to north america
2. the crossing from Eilat (Israel) to Taba (Egypt). Eilat is a modern resort town but right accruss the desert you're in a desert in the 3rd world
Reply to this

17 years ago, July 2nd 2006 No: 6 Msg: #6479  
Mine would be from Zimbabwe to South Africa - on one side you have limp maize fields struggling its way out of the grey dirt, travelling on roads which span barely the width of two cars because people have been chipping bits of the tar roads for others. The immigration side is full of zimbabweans on foot with plastic bags in a haphazard order getting stamped out by bored overworked careless officials. They've run out of paper so you have no forms to fill out and the only way to get to the window is to push, shove and be down right rude. The toilet is overflowing and it is leaking out towards the exit.

You pass through the massive fortified gates to South Africa and you have diesel (non-existent in zimbabwe now), hawkers with something worth buying, the immigration building is computerised and you will be checked with the utmost scrutiny by men in army getup and don't think about pushing in.

Its a border crossing bottleneck. The few Zimbabweans that make it over the border, then travel for miles on foot, through the Limpopo province (National Park) before they are anywhere near a working city. All of a sudden you have pristine fences surrounding a national park, brand new starred campsites and lodges. Wide roads and flourishing landscape. One side broken and the other moving forward.

Its a devastating contrast. Mugabe has a lot to answer for.

(but they are two extradordinairly beautiful countries!!)
Reply to this

17 years ago, July 11th 2006 No: 7 Msg: #6642  
Mine would be from Bolivia to Brazil...you cross a river and go from abject poverty - dirt "roads", no hygeine, toilets are holes in the ground, few cars and those that exist are old bangers, no mobile phones, no computers straight into another world of air conditioning, nice cars, asphalt roads, shiny bogs, 3G mobile phones and flat screen computers. Also far less people selling stuff on the streets in Brazil and poverty is kind of hidden whereas in bolivia its in your face all the time.

People in both countries are great though and in Bolivia they are very enthusiastic about the future especially now they have elected Evo Morales as president. And the scenery on both sides is great too. Reply to this

17 years ago, July 13th 2006 No: 8 Msg: #6676  
From my own travels.......

Spain to Morocco - like crossing to a different world (of course, it is in many ways).

Albania to Greece - like crossing back 😉

Both these changes involve moving from a 'rich' country, with all the infrastructure and facilities that go with that, to a 'poor' country, with all the chaos and uncertainty that go with that (relatively speaking of course).

Iran to Pakistan - with this crossing, it was the little things I noticed, like the milk tea (it's black in Iran), people playing cricket, speaking English, women covering their entire faces (doesn't happen in Iran), all the men wearing Shalwaar Kameez, and again, Pakistan is relatively poor compared with Iran, so that was another noticable difference.

From what I imagine........

San Diego - Tijuana

North Korea - South Korea (a bit obvious I suppose)

Russia - Mongolia

Great idea for a thread by the way, I love crossing borders, it's one of the ost exciting buzzes you can get while travelling - new currency, new language, new scams, new faces, all at the same time, without the headache of landing at an airport.

Reply to this

17 years ago, July 19th 2006 No: 9 Msg: #6736  
Crossing from Peru to Ecuador was quite a surprise....we went from dusty, rocky roads and villages in disrepair - loads of unfinished houses cos if your house looks unfinished you avoid house tax to green, lush mountains and houses with proper rooves and paved streets. The people also seemed more welcoming in Ecuador than in Peru but maybe that was just me. Reply to this

17 years ago, July 20th 2006 No: 10 Msg: #6742  
La Quiaca Argentina to Villazon Bolivia. We didn't do much more than travel through the former to get to the latter but my impression at least is informed by the general impression of a prosperous relatively advanced Argentina, whilst the latter was everything I'd ever imagined about an impoverished South American state; dusty streets, ramshackle housing and limited infrastructure. The other very striking difference about Bolivia was the complete lack of any street hustling, anywhere, from border town to capitol city. My favourite South American destination and a country worthy or tourist support. Reply to this

17 years ago, July 24th 2006 No: 11 Msg: #6773  
Crossing from Turkey (Hopa) to Georgia (Batumi) was pretty interesting. It was an immediate and very obvious shift. It's strange to be in a place that feels Middle Eastern to one that feels very much like a former Soviet state. Reply to this

17 years ago, August 1st 2006 No: 12 Msg: #6833  
I agree with Absolute_adventuress - overlanding from Peru to Ecuador counts for me as the most dramatic change at a land border, perhaps because I don't do so many of them. Travelling north from Lima seems to be mile on mile of desert, broken for short periods by the fertile areas where towns have formed on the rivers coming out of the Andes. North of the border, the vegetation is green, lush and abundant. Sadly, though, as we headed towards Cuenca, it quickly became clear how much the land had been stripped bare over the years. While perhaps not desert yet, it was clear that we had moved from a natural desert south of the border to an emerging man-made desert to its north.
Reply to this

17 years ago, August 10th 2006 No: 13 Msg: #6964  
B Posts: 3
Argentina -> Bolivia
Botswana -> Zambia

I think those would be two pretty big ones for me. Within 100m of immigration the changes are so enormous you would think you went through some kind of portal. Reply to this

17 years ago, August 22nd 2006 No: 14 Msg: #7127  
Agree with Mongolia to Russia, would also add Bosnia to Croatia.

The most noticeable for me has been the US to Canada - do I need to explain?! Reply to this

17 years ago, August 30th 2006 No: 15 Msg: #7287  
I am suprised nobody has mentioned the crossing from Thailand into Poipet, Cambodia. You go from nice paved roads and nice buses to dirt or mud roads with giant potholes and into a crappy van or bus or whatever else they shove you into and down a road that constantly has cows and water buffalo crossing. Hopefully your driver won't run over a dog like mine.

Also the one from dirty Johor Baru, Malaysia into Beautiful Singapore. Reply to this

17 years ago, September 2nd 2006 No: 16 Msg: #7335  
I agree with Bosnia to Croatia to some extent but I feel that has to do to some extent Bosnia has not repaired (by choice or not) the devastation from the war. Culutrally wise, one can be a tourist death trap (croatia) and the other is something phenomenal.

Bosnia, one of my favourtie places.

Reply to this

17 years ago, September 25th 2006 No: 17 Msg: #7580  
That I have done personally:
Juarez (Mexico) by foot over a big bridge into El Paso (USA). Big difference. Also:
China into Hong Kong by foot, through a weired old building in china with lots of floors and packed with people. Smelled pretty bad and was pretty hot into shiny - space age Hong Kong side to be whisked away on the clean, modern and air conditioned underground. Reply to this

17 years ago, October 28th 2006 No: 18 Msg: #8194  
Finland to Russia. The telephone poles are all new and vertical in Finland, but crossing to Russia, the telephone poles were old and collapsing, the wires only a few feet above the ground. New cars on the Finnish side and old and derelict cars on the Russian. From the train, although it was raining, the Finnish landscape looked more healthy. The forest went right up to the city, but approaching St Petersburg, urban sprawl of Soviet style apartment blocks, acres of garages and many labourers outside swinging shovels etc. Affluent to gritty in 5 hours. Reply to this

17 years ago, November 16th 2006 No: 19 Msg: #8599  
Seems like Bolivia to Argentina is definately one. We went from Tupiza in Bolivia - a ramshackled Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid outback town where i got nasty food poisioning for the only time in a year and crossed the border thinking i was going to combust and die. Straight away the contrast was stark with lovely civilzed service stations and toilets! Phew! We arrived in Salta in North Argentina to clean lovely air-conditioned malls and restaurants. But most welcome relief was the discernably lower altiude which was a welcome relief after 6 weeks around 3000ms. Reply to this

17 years ago, November 20th 2006 No: 20 Msg: #8672  
Bizarrely, Costa Rica to Panama. Which I know sounds wierd, but it was mainly to do with the friendliness of the people. In Costa Rica, everyone will bend over backwards to help you, you can trust most people and officials don't act like you've just killed their dog. Crossing to Panama, the officials are massively corrupt requiring a hell of a lot of palm-greasing, and most of the people are downright rude, the men will happily stare, point, wolfwhistle, and the hostels aren't really cared for. Plus, Costa Rica is noticeably cleaner and wealthier than Panama. I couldn't wait to leave and head back to C.R., despite dreading the border crossing - and I was right, my travelling partner was nearly kidnapped! Reply to this

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