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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

US Dollars, Anyone?

THAILAND | Friday, 11 May 2007 | Views [735]

It's easy to see why there's a thriving black market for US dollars in countries where the local currency is weak. We're preparing for our trip to Myanmar, and we are only able to use US dollars there to pay for goods and to also buy their currency on the black market for 10 times the return than the actual published bank rate.  We scoured the streets of Bangkok, looking for a bank or currency exchange branch that had US dollars to sell in, in exchange for our Thai baht, and to our dismay, there were very few greenbacks floating around.  We finally did find a currency exchange booth that sold us several hundred at the high price of 5% mark up.  I can only imagine what the underground mafia here gets as their return, if the currency is so scarce on the legitimate market.

Speaking of other street trade, besides US dollars and food... there's a heap of "junk" sold on the streets.  From flashlights, glasses, watches, parts of cellphones, batteries, auto parts, random baseball hats and sneakers, it's one big rummage sale on the streets of residential neighbor hoods.  Some are selling a lot of one product, others have a hand towel sized plot with very few pieces of junk for sale.  The one that shocked us the most, was a guy selling what looked to be someone's travel gear - a backpack, sleeping bag, couple pair of jeans/pants, a pair of sneakers and flip flops, some t-shirts and couple pair of underwear.  It was like some poor backpacker was robbed, and there before us were all his/her belongings.  It makes you wonder...  that's probably why they strongly advise in Bangkok to double lock your hostel doors with a paddle lock on the outside.  It's been common practice for hotel employees to make duplicate copies of keys in backpacker hostels, and when you leave, take all your stuff from your room.  Now we know where the stuff ends up.

Tags: Budgets & money

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