Paying for supper in two currencies. This is Cambodia.
29.08.2011 - 29.08.2011 31 °C
Siem Reap, Cambodia
With the Ed and Miran now on their way home to the US we were able to return to our more relaxed routine. With most of our morning spent travel planning, emailing and sleeping (but not necessarily in that order!) it was closer to lunchtime before we found ourselves once again wondering around Siem Reap.
As is typical in Cambodia everything we looked at was priced in USD which made shopping mentally simple. Also given the inherent weakness of the dollar, at present, it further benefited us in that pre-printed dollar menus, price tags and the like had not increased in price due to currency fluctuations. Possibly to make up for those terrible Khmer Rouge days when all currency was banned and the national Bank destroyed by the government Cambodia now has three currencies. The official currency is the Riel but this is seldom used by tourists. Locals make their low value purchases in Riel. We will sometimes receive change in Riels when it is less than a dollar but essentially we are able to pay and receive change in USD’s – or a mixture of both if the bill is x dollars and a few cents. In the west pf the country the Thai baht is also accepted. For Ed and Miran the mystic of southeast Asia was a little dented with everything priced in dollars. For Trey and I it was so welcome not having to calculate prices back into dollars, change money and the like.
Spending an easy day in a city that is so pleasant to simply wander we decided to treat ourselves to a little French supper. By most international standards our little teak furnished, orchid strewn French restaurant was both inviting and Asian in style. Yet the food was very French. Salmon tartar followed by Fois Gras (as I am desperately missing the excellent homemade chicken liver pate I am sometimes fortunate enough to have made for me back home) and a lovely mushroom soup. For the first time in many weeks we also risked a bottle of wine, which given the heat and humidity had travelled reasonably well. Receiving our bill we paid the majority in USDs, leaving a few Riels to cover the 50 cents on the bill and to leave a modest tip.
After dinner we once again treated ourselves to $1 foot massages, relaxing later with a cold beer as the relatively few tourists headed for the night market. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Siem Reap. What a shame!