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International Land Borders





watersoul
I live on an island (Britain), so leaving the country for me always involves travel by plane, ship, or undersea train. Even the one part of the UK which has a land border (Northern Ireland) is not a border as such anymore because of our membership of the EU. Vehicles and people cross daily on unattended roads where there are no customs or authority checking for details.

I have entered Cambodia without visa by paying people US$50 in the past, and I've also peered into China from the Laos side of the fences. The Red Army soldiers didn't seem like guys I wanted to chat with about not having a visa for their country though Shocked
I've crossed the Malaysia/Thailand border a few times for the renewed 30 days visa-hop and always chuckled at the Army bases on each side with guns sighted toward each other. The 50 odd metres of 'no mans land' is eerie, especially when you look left or right.

Just wondering the thoughts of others in countries around the world, do you live at a land border?
Is it a 'real' border with checkpoints and similar, or do people just cross daily without a thought?
I'm curious about the US/Canada border as well. On Google Earth/Maps it seems like you could cross at lots of minor roads. I am also fascinated by it's man made straight line even through forests.
Anyone cross that border regularly? Do you have to stick to certain customs points or is it fine if you have identification or whatever?

This may be a topic which dies quickly due to the rather niche subject, but hey, I'm genuinely interested, so please do share any and all of your land border crossing experiences here Smile
kaysch
Nowadays for Germany the answer is simple. Germany has 9 neighbouring countries, and all of them are part of the Schengen area. So except for some occasional checks you should not even notice that you cross a border.

I think the worst border experience I have ever had was in November 1989, one week before the opening of the inner-German border. My Italian wife and I were on our way back from a weekend trip to Rostock, East Germany. On Sunday we drove back from Rostock and at around 10 pm we finally arrived at the first checkpoint maybe 15 km ahead of the inner-German border. The checkpoint was dimly lit, it was a little foggy and the whole atmosphere was pretty unwelcoming. The policeman there checked our passports and told me to my surprise that while she had a valid visa, I didn't. I should have visited the police station in Rostock and there ask for an extension of the visa into Sunday. So he told me to go back to Rostock to get a visa extension. Now, what to do? It was 10 pm, we neither had any East German currency nor any petrol left, and to go back to Rostock would have been a 3 hour journey. So even if we somehow managed to solve the problem with the petrol we would have arrived back at the border on Monday morning. For which neither of us had a valid visa. I told him the story and he asked us to park the car and to wait. It was a long time we had to stay in the car, maybe 25 min or so. Finally he came out of the building and told us to proceed to the border. I was really relieved when we reached West German soil again. I am so glad that border no longer exists!
SonLight
Prior to 9/11 the US-Canadian border was pretty much open. I have never crossed it, so I don't really know how much it's changed. I do know there was discussion that we needed to prevent potential terrorists from entering that way. I believe we convinced Canada to tighten their entry procedures, and did not make it too much tougher to enter the US from Canada. If we had established tight border controls it would have hurt both our economies considerably, so both countries had incentive to prevent that being needed, if possible.

Our southern border is a much different story. We have fairly draconion procedures in effect, but it's never enough. We have had major political arguments about it ever since 9/11. When I last entered Mexico, before 9/11, you simply drove past the customs station to enter Mexico; neither government worried about monitoring anyone. When coming back, they always checked identity and searched anyone they thought was suspicious. There was no appearance of military force, although I'm sure they were prepared to respond if an unruly mob tried to force their way in.
watersoul
kaysch wrote:
I think the worst border experience I have ever had was in November 1989, one week before the opening of the inner-German border.
That's some story kaysch, thanks for sharing it. I remember watching 'the wall' come down on live news so I can imagine the anxious feelings that would be going on while having any kind of 'problem' crossing those dark borders of history.


SonLight wrote:
Our southern border is a much different story
You can see the difference on Google Earth/Maps, looks much more of a fortress down there with minor traffic routes diverted to main arteries which lead to the border crossing points. Can see the fences and security as well.
I've read that border county Sheriff's have been more vociferous in the stopping of illegal immigrants than the state and federal authorities at times, that got much truth in it as far as you know?
grofet
We live in a world with a lot of border. I'm really sick with border since many border do not let people pass for free including good people without passport and visa. I think it caused by fear (paranoid) and trauma. They just don't want other people enter the country and do something bad to take over the country just like the colonialism in the past. Some border in my country is free to pass for ordinary people. My country is so huge so it would be very very impossible to guard it all. So many bad people enter my country without permission and steal fish, natural resources, and many more. I think at this time my country is safe from bad people that try to take over the country since the government have a good relationship with united nations (un), united states of america (usa), world bank, etc. It would be impossible for terrorist to take over my country.
watersoul
grofet wrote:
Some border in my country is free to pass for ordinary people. My country is so huge so it would be very very impossible to guard it all. So many bad people enter my country without permission and steal fish, natural resources, and many more.

Thanks for the interesting reply.
I'm curious though, which country are you from if you don't mind me asking, and can citizens just cross the border without passports 'legally' or do the authorities just ignore it?

The cross border stealing sounds terrible for local communities, I guess the history of Britain would have been very different if we were not an island.
sonam
In my life I am visited lot of countries with or without borders. But I think the customs and police is not big problem if you have valid passport. For me the economic borders are more stronger. But this is something offtopic.

My worst experience is when I was cross border between India and Nepal. It was nineteen years ago in 1994., it is very cold on Sonouli (cross border name) and we (me and my wife) haven't good clothes. We are crossing Indian border last day of visa valid and then we are walking about 1km to Nepali border. It is 3 Am and officer on the Nepal side stand up from his bad and open window on border house. He took our passport (pretty new) and ask: "Croatia, where is this country?"
- In Europe. - was my answer.
- I never hear about it. Did Nepal have contract with your country?
- I think yes, yes how I know.
- Then why I din't ever hear for this country.
- We have war. Before there are Jugoslavia and now are 6 new countries.
- I know Jugoslavia but...
- How I know we have direct fly from our capital Zagreb to Kathmandu.
- Maybe I don't know, I am not sure, are...

In this moment my wife start yell on him.
- If you don't know who know. It is your duty to know who can and who can't cross Nepal border!!!
He is answer very cool on her voice.
- Madam if you want to cross border then stop yelling on me.

Bummm, window is closed and he was laid down back in the bad. We was trapped between two countries on no man's land.

There are no any shop or something opened and we was totally freeze. Maybe 50 meters far away from Nepali border is open one coffee bar but we are little bit afraid to go there without visa. Our situation are enough complicated without illegal border crossing.

After 30 minutes one younger officer is coming out from border house. I was start to chit-chat with him and after 15 minutes he promise to me: "I will ask older officer to open border again."

And like everyone here can conclude he held his promise and after fifteen minutes we was drinking coffee in Nepal. Very Happy

Sonam
watersoul
Sonam, thank you for an absolutely brilliant story!
I totally imagined a picture of you in no-mans land thinking of your options.
Wow, it beats all of my land border experiences, I well remember the break up of your region so understand the confusion over Croatia with the border guard.
Well played, and such an interesting experience, cheers for sharing it here man Very Happy
Peterssidan
I live pretty close to the Norway/Sweden border that I have passed about 15-30 times but we never have had to stop. As I have understand it they can stop you and check that you don't carry anything you shouldn't but the stations are usually unmanned so not very exciting, I know. The most interesting thing about crossing the border is that the colour of the middle road line change from white to yellow.
kaysch
Peterssidan wrote:
The most interesting thing about crossing the border is that the colour of the middle road line change from white to yellow.

A very fine example of Swedish humour...
deanhills
I live very close to the border with Oman. Up to approx 2007, there was no real border and one could literally cross the border on foot. But then in 2007/2008 or thereabouts, the UAE created very high fences, etc with a border post at a great distance of the city where I live, after that it was not as easy for me to wander into Oman on foot.

The bizarre part is that there are two ways I can exit the UAE. I.e. get a proper passport exit stamp with the objective of getting an entry stamp in Oman. Except, the Omani entry customs point is about 30 km inland from the UAE exit point. So one could probably say that that area is a customs free zone. One could elect to visit only that area without needing to get an exit stamp, and just showing one's passport. Quite confusing for visitors of course. One gets to the border post, and most cars just show their passports and drive through, but for those who need to get an exit stamp, plenty of confusion to find the absolute right spot to park one's car, and get the exit stamp. Then after that, equally confusing when one gets through to the other side, and there is no back to back Omani post. One has to figure out the road to the Omani border post, which is 30km on the road to Muscat.
coolclay
Great post as always Watersoul! When I lived in Maine (bordering Canada) we used to hunt near the US/Canadian border. You are correct many dirt roads, trails and paths cross the border so it is very easy to cross. However, the nearest main roads almost always have checkpoints at them so even if you crossed you either had lots of hiking do or would be stopped at a checkpoint. The border where we were was mowed about 8 meters wide or so, and I am sure border patrolled regularly patrolled the it.

Just for fun, I wanted to commit my firs felony (and only one so far (excluding Psilocybes which don't really count)). So I carried my gun across the border fired it in the air twice, and quickly walked back over! It was a little stupid but I thought it funny at the time!

The southern border on the other hand is an entirely different story but only going south to north. My first drive to Mexico was crazy, we just drove through without being stopped. However the trip back was ridiculous. We accidentally got in the wrong lane that was for prescreened people, and got threatened with a $5,000 fine, detained and searched our car for 2 hours! It was ridiculous, especially considering the horrific lack of signs, and organization.
codegeek
I live in Nepal. We are surrounded by India on 3 sides and by China in the north. The India-Nepal borders are pretty open. This has caused a lot of problems, including some criminal cases. There are also many border encroachment issues. However, it has made it easier for Nepalese in these areas to travel to India for work. I think the border issues need to be managed, though. The problems are increasing day by day.
coolclay
Just saw this and thought of this post, borders are so fascinating because for all intensive purposes without humans they mean nothing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qMkYlIA7mgw
deanhills
Cute. Wonder whether the author is American or Canadian. Great documentary though. Didn't know there was still some land that is being disputed and agreed oil would probably make that a big issue. Let's hope they won't find any as that is in a picturesque place of the world as well. Also amazing how they carved up the lakes.
coolclay
Yea, I had no idea. I know that it definitely wasn't a straight line, and that Maine isn't actually the northern most point in the contiguous US but not the reasons behind it.

Still to this day there is a ton of drug running across the Canadian border, because it is so insecure. Most of it just marijuana as far as I know, but with the massive increase in US based pot farms over the past 10 years I think the smuggling has decreased some.
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