Monday, May 22, 2006

Cheques and balances

It's now just 101 days until Smithy and I embark on the Very Big Adventure (VBA) and we're going to have to crank up the fitness thing. We've been a bit slack recently - doing a 20 kilometre bushwalk once a month and a weekly 5km walk and not much a bit undermotivated and complacent for awhile there. BUT...come 1st June and it's all systems go! Apart from anything else, we're entering in the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July and need to be fit enough to do that. Not that we're running it...oh no! We walk the 21km and try to do it in 3 hours. Which we've done the last two times we've entered. Then in August we'll do the 12km Bridge to Brisbane fun run - again walking it, but trying to complete it in about 90 minutes or so. If we come up alright after that (ie no stiffness etc) we reckon we'll be pretty much ready for the VBA.
We took ourselves off to the city last week - taking advantage of the current exchange rate to buy US$1000 worth of travellers cheques. We'd already taken out the AUS$1300 we calculated we'd need. Walked into Travelex to be told the rate was 72 cents, not the 76 cents we'd seen on the telly the night before and it's going to cost us over AUS$1400. "Oh no that's the retail rate blah blah blah" says the agent. Oh well, if that's the rate, that's the rate we think. OK we need the biggest denomination available. Only $50 and $100 cheques are available, we're told. $100 cheques is the biggest you can get in Australia. OK, well we'll just have to have those then. We need $1000 each. There's only 2 $100 cheques available in the office! But we can order some. We decide to hold off for now since we don't know when we'll next have a day off together to come into the city.
Well, we mutter once back out on the street, that was a waste of time. Let's try the bank says Smithy. Nothing ventured nothing gained, off we go to the Commonwealth Bank. We need an appointment to organise travellers cheques, but there's one available in 45 minutes. Great! We go off to Borders for a cuppa and a browse then head back.
Not only can we get a single cheque to the value of US$1000, we get it at 76 cents in the dollar! So, guess where we'll be going in future to get the rest of our cheques? Since we have to take US$3500 each with us to pay for two treks and a stay in Chitwan National Park, the fewer cheques to sign the better! Bugger Travelex and their ripoff rates and fees!