Today I had the opportunity of cleaning the hostel grill, which brought me back to the good old days of working in restaurants. Ahhh, good times! During the afternoon I delved further into my trip planning and felt that I made some serious progress sifting through the nauseating confusion of making my way through border control and visa discrepancies. While reading through the many articles and blogs, I found out some unique things about the places I will be visiting. First and most surprising of all is how tricky Burma aka Myanmar can be when dealing with foreign currency. Apparently from what I read, the country has few ATMs and doesn’t accept American credit cards so whatever cash you have coming in is all you will have to work worth until you manage your way out. The American dollar is quite popular so it is advised to bring enough of it in to exchange with the local currency called kyat. The initial reaction would be to exchange directly at the airport since it should be the most official but it actually gives the worst rate by a good 50%. As I read further along, I found out the best way to get your money’s worth is to exchange it on the black market with men that are carrying large amounts of cash. I hope with all my heart that this is true so I can get the feel of a drug deal without the illegal drugs in play. Another thing I read about is the way government officials can take advantage of tourists by having them pay service fees, especially at border crossings. Reading these posts and having my wits about me should take me along way and avoid getting ripped off. I am looking forward to bartering everything that I need to buy including my hostel stays. From what I have heard from the backpackers I met while traveling as well as through the travel gossip on the net is that in Thailand and other Southeastern countries, they tend to price their items at more than twice their actual value. So it is up to the not easily manipulated and keen traveler to get a fair deal. Hitching and now bartering, I can’t wait! Besides the unreal temples, foods, and scenery I will be experiencing, this is what traveling is all about. Due to all this research, I have grown tired of staying in Cairns. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be complaining; I will be there in a matter of a couple of weeks. However, I am not used to this type of traveling. Staying still for a little while, I can gain a small sense of home but my legs are getting restless. I have contemplated the idea of axing my two week commitment to the hostel to leave earlier but after finding a scuba trip that fits me, I think I will stick to it. I do like the fact that I am earning my keeps here at the hostel instead of quickly passing through as I have. But then again that may just be a coping method. As part of hopefully a growing trend, I jogged the Esplanade and back; it had to be done in the evening when the heat is still not remotely tolerable but easily much better than the continuous blaze of midday. As usual the second half of the jog was a wet T-shirt contest that no one wanted to be apart of; the soaked shirt hugged me tight in an uncomfortable, sweaty embrace. A dip in the pool and a shower did just fine but when you start sweating while making dinner afterwards you start to lose a little respect for yourself. Our little staff hostel room had a bonding moment talking about off the wall topics; how nice, our own little international family. Before going to bed, I met a couple Germans that just arrived from Thailand. They told me that all the rumors about the lady boys are true. My skin crawled just thinking about it. Trying not to let that disturb my dreams, I fell sound asleep thanks to the almighty A/C.
Down Under Day 41: Patience