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Where We Journal

A series of our inner thoughts, emotions, experiences, encounters, & observations, as we interact with the people of the world


You Can't Eat Money

Jenny & Adam

"Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money"

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia // The exchange rate of Cambodian Riel to USD is 4,000 to 1. We typically max out ATM withdrawals to minimize bank fees which meant we would have a million Riel after our first withdrawal. We've always dreamed of being millionaires and this was our chance, but alas it never happened because it turns out as well as speaking English they also love USD. We never touched more than 1000 Riel notes that equate to about $0.25. In fact, all menus are priced in USD, all ATMs distribute US dollars, and all street vendors prefer the green backs.

This came as a surprise to us as we reached into our reserves for the last of the USD we had. What was also interesting was that they only like our new crisp dollars. If it is ripped, torn, or worn, they refuse it. Even if its a $100. We almost were unable to pay our dinner bill because we were unaware of the condition our $100 was in. There was a crease right down the center of Ben Franklins face and it was not accepted anywhere. It became very apparent that any torn money we had was worthless here, which leads to the question // what gives a piece of paper with dead presidents on it any value? Our torn 100s are as good as toilet paper here in Cambodia.