Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October Adventures Intro

  I'm about to blog all over the place. It has certainly been a while, my friends. In a previous post I unveiled my prospective itinerary, mostly concerned with my solo beach trip to Koh Samui. At that point my plans for Cambodia and Vietnam were up in the air. I knew who I wanted to travel with and the places we wanted to go, I just I didn't do any proper research until after my beach getaway. This three-week October trip was my first extended vacation / backpacking experience and it really turned out well. I'm especially glad that all my photos turned out so well. I found myself unable to restrain myself from shooting endless photos of the ancient temples I visited in Siem Reap, Cambodia. More on that later. I'm going to divide my blog posts into three sections: the first for Koh Samui, the second for Cambodia and the third for Vietnam. 

  Before I set off for my travels I was nervous about my money situation from the beginning. In late September had to drop at least 10,000 B (half of a paycheck) to get my wisdom teeth removed. For the longest time I refused to write about my dental situation because it was stressful and time consuming, taking cabs around the city to different dental offices and talking to so many doctors to explain my situation. Initially I was only supposed to have one removed that was causing jaw pain and headaches. After getting an x-ray, the dentist wanted to remove the one tooth under local anesthesia - absolutely not. I insisted that I wanted general anesthesia so it would be easier for everyone involved. That way I could also have the three other wisdom teeth removed and just get the whole ordeal over with. Having any kind of surgery in a foreign country is an uncomfortable process, especially when communication is essential. Thankfully the doctors all spoke English well and understood my situation. I'm glad that the operation went smoothly and also that I felt well enough to travel to the beach soon after. As for my money, the other half of that paycheck went toward Koh Samui (mostly transportation and food). The other source of funds came from travelers checks that I converted into Cambodian riel, Vietnamese dong, and US dollars. At one point I had four forms of currency in my wallet including Thai baht. I'm the worst mathematician you'll ever meet, so I had a lot of trouble converting all those foreign currencies into the equivalent in USD. 

1 USD ~ 30 Thai baht
1 USD ~ 4,000 Cambodian riel
1 USD ~ 20,000 Vietnamese dong

  By the time you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dong it hurts your wallet to shell out huge amounts after getting used to spending a few hundred Thai baht here and there. The Cambodian economy accepts US dollars for most purchases, so I felt relieved to have some good old US mint in my hand again. However, if you choose to pay for a meal with a ten or twenty bill some of your smaller change will be returned in Cambodian riel because a 1,000 note riel acts as a US quarter. All the money conversion made my head spin. I'm still stuck with useless Cambodian monopoly money in my wallet. Maybe those notes will prove to be more valuable as souvenirs now. Stay tuned for upcoming posts that delve into a recount of my vacation!

Song of the Day:
  The intro to my journey around southeast Asia. This song is stolen from an epic snowboarding montage in the film "Art of Flight". The movie was filmed with the same high-quality slow motion cameras used to film the Planet Earth series. If you like snowboarding even a little bit, you should see the movie. 

M83 - Intro (featuring Zola Jesus)

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