It’s sure funny, dealing with three kinds of currencies.
The Cambodian (or actually: Khmer) Riel is fixed to the USD at around 3900-4100 Riel to 1 USD. In Poipet it’s pretty much fixed at 4000, we’re told.
So for us as Norwegians we think: Double up and loose the (3) zeroes.
Then Thai Baht. Which is currently at .. ehm .. Well, there’s the challenge right there. I think we divide it by four? Both currencies are foreign, and both Thai and Khmer numbering is different from ours. I’ve memorized the Khmer numbers (it’s fun: a bi-quinary system), but memorizing is still a far stretch from being able to use them somewhat.
Western style: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Khmer: ០, ១, ២, ៣, ៤, ៥, ៦, ៧, ៨, ៩
Thai: ๐ , ๑, ๒, ๓, ๔, ๕, ๖, ๗, ๘, ๙
So imho, the numbers look the same with a real difference between Khmer and Thai 9. But there aren’t many bank notes of 90/900 Baht, or 900/9000 Riel. Haven’t seen them and wouldn’t take them. The notes that we do see are typically 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000.
For a Norwegian, one hundred Riel is very little money: 0.2 NOK, so anything below that has to be Baht: 20 or 50 Baht. Anything above 1000 has to be Riel: 5k, 10k, 20k… The problem is with 100 Baht or 100 Riel – this takes a getting used to because ១០០ and ๑๐๐ looks pretty much the same – and of course we have various versions of the notes. It doesn’t take long to walk around with a big stack of cash that has little value. The 100 Riel notes can be useful to give away, but you can’t really tip either – imagine getting a tip consisting of 250 pennies…
The counting system is fun and called a bi-quinary system. The world’s first mass manufactured computer system, the IBM 650 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_650) supports this as well.
The other day, Eskil, Krister, Bente and I went to buy some cookies and sodas. We brought with us our very limited choice of words:
អរគុណ: thank you
and most important: our smiles – which can mean anything positive.
We also brought some money in a strange mix of dollars, baht and some riel.
Krister used his dollar to buy two sodas, Eskil used 20 Baht for one soda, and Bente used some of her dollar to buy some cookies – she got a couple of thousand Riel back.
It is said that many people here lack an education, but with all the night markets and little shops literally everywhere, people amaze me with their calculation skills, switching between a bunch of currencies, bank notes, combinations, returns and all that.
Very very cool!