Sunday, January 13, 2013

What's a Sawbuck?

Okay, so
10 USD = 10,000 KRW, more or less.

So, who has the most shit currency in southeast Asia?

To digress a bit:
I remember as a small boy, and a philatelist to boot, living in Bangkok circa the Vietnam War, when my brother and his bully of a pal offered me 100 Baht for my stamp collection. Well, to some little kid, 100 of anything sounded like quite a lot, and I only had one book of stamps (BTW, stamp collecting was cool then, as I think it is now!) so I of course took the deal.

It was only later that day, when they were laughing at me for being a nine-year-old chump (like who isn't?) that I learned that 100 Baht was about five dollars. When my Dad found out, he made them give me back my stamp collection. He couldn't do anything to Mike, but he gave my brother Alan a whipping. To be honest, my Dad should have given me a whipping, too. For being such a chump.

OR, he should have educated me about the value of monetary units, and the idea that 100 of one thing might not be worth 100 of some other thing. As of that day, though, I got it. Thanks, Alan!

Now, 100 Baht in 1970 or so was worth 5 USD, but today it's about $3.30. That's actually very good continuance of value. Why I bring all this up is because of my impending trip to Vietnam. I don't like to wait until leaving to exchange my money, as complications can arise (and indeed have arisen in the past). So today, I went to Gimpo Airport, to my branch of Hana Bank there, to obtain some VND (Vietnam Dong).

First off, the branch at the International terminal didn't have any Dong at all. This is an example of the complications of which I speak. Instead, I was directed to the Domestic terminal. Can you explain why they might have a foreign currency in the domestic terminal that the international branch doesn't? No, neither can I. Fine. It's about a fifteen minute walk to the domestic terminal where everything was well sorted by very helpful Hana Bank staff. I'm not just saying that, either--I always get an extra smile and a small discount rate because I'm a Hana Bank customer.

Anyway, of all the SE Asian monies I've used (i.e., countries I've visited), I think the VND has the highest number of zeroes of them all! How much of a currency equals about 10 bucks? I'll exempt New Zealand from my travels, as it isn't really in Asia, and round the local value (most of whom don't need much rounding). Let's make a list; one sawbuck (10 US dollars) equals:

60 RMB (Chinese RenMinBi)
300 NT (New Taiwan Dollars)
300 Bt (Thai Baht)
400 PHP (Philippine Peso-I haven't been yet, but I have tickets for Feb.)
900 JPY (Japanese Yen)
10,000 KRW (Korean Won)
100,000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah)
200,000 VND (Vietnam Dong)

So, 10 bucks, or about 10,000 won, is equal to 200,000 VND, aka dong. (Stop snickering. I can hear you!) The thing is, the only denomination of dong they had at the bank was 200,000 VND. Sounds like quite a lot, but it helps to think of it as a sawbuck, or 10 dollars. So 20,000 dong is about a chunner or a buck. I hear a beer is typically 25,000 dong, so a buck and a quarter. Whew!


Chris said...

So, how many Baht is your stamp collection worth these days?

Tuttle said...

Good question. I have no idea, but way more than 100 Bt.