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Travelling distorts truths we consider stable. It distorts the truth that December will be cold, and that there will always be a Subway sandwich shop within 5minutes walk.

The crucial concepts of time and money are no less stable. In fact, their differences around the world can be one of the most disorientating aspects of travel.

This, country by country, is my assessment of the features, values and interplays associated with times and monies that I’ve encountered.

‘India Time’ is famously flexible. Even supposed bastions of timekeeping, national rail stations, suffer from internal irregularity. Time conveniently does wait for the Indian man.
The value of Rupees, too, can vary wildly; a fortune to one is pittance to another, even those living on the same street. A samosa can cost 10Rs or 1000Rs.

Striking out for individuality, Nepalese time differs 15minutes from Indian time, and they maintain their own Rupee currency too. In rural areas, neither are relied on; goods can be traded directly (if at all) and days planned by the sun’s path.

Money is plentiful. Time is scarce. Free time necessitates speedy spending. Wealth buys status that time alone cannot.

Malaysians can afford to waste both time and money. Food – and other items – is cheap, and time, well, what’s the rush? If in doubt, hit the Mall for a cheap way to while away the day.

Thailand feels stable. Prices are constant, and schedules seem to be followed. Transportation takes it’s sweet time, but low prices sweeten sour journeys.

Pol Pot abolished money 35years ago. Cambodian Riel is now back in use, but US Dollars are preferable, and dispensed by all ATMs. Earning money requires an enormous quantity of time, but this is accepted and respected.

In seconds, your money can be gone. People are seriously speedy, rarely alighting from their nippy mopeds. Dollar usage, notes in the millions and furious haggling make financial slip-ups easy. (And quick.)

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