A while back I mentioned in a previous blog that if I can do one thing outside of my language learning each day then it was a productive day. So today was the day I had to go to the bank since I had to get a month end bank statement to finalize the financial balances for reports I have to submit to our head office in Vancouver.
Now here in Cambodia, online banking has not yet fully arrived at least not in the bank that I have our accounts at so one cannot just simply go online and print a financial statement. This requires a visit to the bank and over here, such visits are not quick. They are at least an hour long to get a bank statement. I wish I could explain why the wait but the reality is that things here take a lot longer and so you learn to adjust your expectations.
Today, I also needed to get some funds exchanged in addition to obtaining a bank statement so I figured it would take about 1 1/2 hours to do both transactions. But surprisingly, progress was made. I was in and out of the bank in less than an hour. I have learned how to ask for a bank statement in Khmer but I add in a few English words and of course, I decided to bring a copy of what I received last month. All of this I think speeded up the process.
Next up was getting my funds exchanged. Typically one is given a number and has to line up in another line to wait for a teller but I am discovering that there are advantages to having 'fair' skin in this place. It is obvious that I am not Khmer because of my complexion and features and so I got special treatment---or perhaps because I am a Westerner they think I have a lot of money or perhaps it was simply God's favor over me. Whatever the reason, I did not have to line up again, instead, I was ushered into a booth while several others were sitting and waiting. I now know how to ask for money to be exchanged in Khmer and thankfully the teller I had also spoke some English. So once again, the process was a lot shorter than my typical experience. This is one time being a 'fair' skinned person has its advantages. It definitely does not work to your advantage if you are shopping as you pay a premium than an average Khmer. However, I am discovering, that smiling goes along way to getting a good deal. The Khmer are very polite and courteous people especially if you are visiting the markets. They really do appreciate when you make the effort to speak their language even if you butcher it. Being Asian, I do not pay a full premium on items that a Causcasian would, but in recent times, smiling and speaking Khmer is a wonderful bargaining combination. The sellers are all curious to know where I am from and how long I have been living here. More than that, they are so encouraging telling that I speak a lot of Khmer. I don't think I know that much Khmer but here, knowing a few words goes a long way. So progress is slowly being made and its days like this I am thankful to the Lord. Indeed as Philippians 4:13 says 'I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.'
Tomorrow, my new task is to go and get a post office box for our Ratanak office. This is an important step as it is needed for our legal documents over here. So I have been getting feedback from friends on what I need to take to the Post office. I am determined that I will only need to make one trip to the post office versus the customary 3 trips when setting up something new. I have heard from friends that some times there are delays in getting a post office box especially if you are a foreigner so I've recruited my 'Loak crew' (teacher) to join me as I hear it is beneficial to have a Khmer person with you when visiting the post office. Pray that I will not have to pay any additional fees other than the $12.00 annual fee and that this whole process will indeed go smoothly.