Saturday, 10 May 2008

Hilarious Money Doodles - Not always funny

I'm in Cambodia at the moment, and just a few days ago I was in Siem Reap going to see as many temples as I could in half a day (which was all I had allotted in this whirl-wind tour), and the time had come to pay the driver for the mass driving he had done. Came down to $75 for the whole afternoon, including two very far-away temples (Beng Melua and Bantey Srei for those who've been, more of which in another post), which seemed a little high, but whatever.

And when I say $75, I don't mean "$75 expressed in the local currency." I mean 75 US Dollars, in US Dollar bills. For those of who haven't come to Cambodia, they've effectively adopted the USD for every single transaction, and only use Reil for units below $1, using an effective exchange rate of R4000=$1. So since nobody carries that much Reil, we had to pay in good old fashioned greenbacks.

One of the $20 bills that we received when we got change from a $50 bill (which is what the ATMs here give out) had a very humorous Where's George? notation on the top. Very humorous, no? Wouldn't it be clever to find out when you check that your bill made its way to a petrol service station in Siem Reap, Cambodia? Hahaha. How humorous that would be!

Even better, what joy it would be if your Hilarious Money Doodle was to make it over here! How hilarious!


This bill was like the plague over here. Our driver point-blank refused to take it, claiming (probably not incorrectly) that it was useless to him, as nobody would ever take it here, because it wouldn't look real once it had been written on. Since they don't have their own currency, and since there's been so much change in the USD notes recently, I guess I can't really evaluate whether that's true or not, but he was very upset about this note. In the end, he wanted us to go into the hotel to change it for another note that was more acceptable to him, and after a very long and hot and tiring (started the day up at 5am in Phnom Penh) day of temple stomping we refused, but to do so we had to literally just walk away from him. I felt bad, because he probably figured he was going to be stuck with that bill for a long time, but over here, they don't have confidence that any old bill that's torn in half and taped together or something like that is exchangeable at the bank, because it probably isn't.

Oh, and US? Please think of poor countries when you finally get rid of the $1 bill. Coins are great (the smallest note in the UK is now worth about $10), but over here they don't have coins and don't want them, and given the dollarization of the economy, that will mean that the minimum price of most transactions will become $5 which will be a killer for the economy.

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