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  • Writer's pictureVoita

The change game

As the 101 Dalmatians, I have collected sunrises over Nepal, and it's time to make my way back to India. This simple fact brings along every seasoned backpacker's favourite game. I have X money in the local currency, and I have Y days left. It is essential to intersect these two curves at zero. It's a matter of honor.

Why? The same exercise of skill as with local street vendors: not to leave a single extra cent - but for the banks. Six years ago, I started using the Revolut app during the first months of its existence. It allowed me to transfer money between currencies, withdraw, and make payments - without fees, without any issues, like from another world. Where, in the international sector, regular banks decrease fees and improve services, Revolut has been voraciously multiplying fees and reducing service quality over the last six years in the name of fair use. They managed to transform the app into one of the most expensive and worst financial institutions on the market. Travel advice: get $100 bills at home and exchange them for local currency as necessary.

Six years ago, when I needed to withdraw money, it was an all-day adrenaline game. Half of the ATMs in KTM looked like foreigner-traps; of the remaining half a half didn't work, the next half wasn't accepting foreign cards, and the vast majority demanded exorbitant fees. For a more intense experience, the ATMs would swap these statuses among themselves daily. But back then, it was possible to trace down an ATM that would dispense a thick stack of banknotes in exchange for a grateful bow.

Following Thailand's example, Nepal is rapidly turning into one gaping orifice devouring foreign currency, and currently, all ATMs require a cartel fee of 500 NPR ($3.8). In Thailand, fees start at $4.5 per withdrawal, but Nepal is catching up quickly; as soon as they introduce a tax per night, per bed in KTM, backpackers will be done for here as well.

So, not a single extra cent for the banks. I believe that most people will agree with that :D

Five Saturday segments:

  • stitching together a Medium article

  • sniffling and sneezing; a toll for trek

  • sorting and editing photos from the big camera (Flickr, and complete fallen bridge)

  • sweating in my long-sleeved Merino pyjamas; all shirts and underwear went into the washing machine

  • saying goodbye to Jagat: I linger here for so long that in the end, he's leaving the country before me! and he's a local (a friend who was helping me throughout my stay here 🙏)

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