Kip Rules Everything Around Me, K.R.E.A.M.

It's kind of hard to not feel like a total gangsta living in Vientiane. The biggest bill you can get in Lao Kip is 20,000 Kip and that's worth about $2.50 canadian. The 20,000 bill has been a pretty recent addition so it's still a bit harder to come by. I changed money this week and decided to change 2000 Thai Baht (which is roughly $70 canadian). That gave me 528,000 Kip and the biggest bill they had was a 5,000 so I got a huge stack of 5,000 Kip bills (a bundle of 100 bills and then some loose ones).

A bag of pop (yes, they keep the bottle so they can get the deposit back) costs 2,000 kip, a Tuk-Tuk ride to just about anywhere in the city will maybe cost 10,000-20,000 depending on the driver and how well you negotiate (although some try to rip off foreigners and charge 30,000 to go anywhere). A good meal at an "expensive" restaurant is around 30,000 kip (unless you go to a really upscale foreign place). Cheaper local places are a lot less. I had an amazing Phat Thai yesterday for 10,000 kip.

My stipend from cuso is pretty low (maybe $500 canadian a month) but is a lot more than most local Lao salaries so it's really easy to live well. The really nice 3 bedroom house that I'm sharing has air conditioning, 2 bathrooms and satellite TV and costs $250 US a month (which is paid for by CUSO seperately from my stipend).