Friday, October 07, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011

On Wednesday I recorded a podcast with Brian Micklethwait, Patrick Crozier, and Antoine Clarke, in which we discussed the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which is about to reach the quarter final stage.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

More travel related mental skills.

Over the summer, I have been to Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo. With the exception of Slovakia and Kosovo (which use the euro, each of these countries has its own currency. Also, with the exception of Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech republic, each of these countries maintains its own immigration controls. Travel is thus like it was in western Europe 20 years ago. There is lots of messing around with passports, money changers, and pockets full of strange coins. Like western Europe 20 years ago, it is all done in the context of a peaceful and relatively civilised environment, but there things are hassles.

However, when I am in a country, I am extremely adept at keeping track of exchange rates. When I am quoted a price in local currency I know exactly what that is in Sterling. I am very careful, and I don't let anyone play any tricks on me, as people in touristy places will try to do. (In non-touristy places, generally they won't. One of the interesting facts about travel is that you are generally safer - at least from petty crime - in places where tourists do not go, as the pickpockets and bag-snatchers that prey on tourists do not exist in such places.

However, when I leave a country and its associated currency, I forget the exchange rate pretty much instantly. There is usually no value remembering it, as even if I do visit the country again, the exchange rate will be different. The exception is if I come back to the same country a week later, as one might if doing a circular trip. In fact, this happened to me in Macedonia last month. I flew in and out of Skopje, but I spent most of the trip in Albania and Kosovo. When I got back to Macedonia, I couldn't remember the exchange rate, and had to look it up again.

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