When we got to the Embassy, we realized that we had forgotten that we could only drop off our passports between 12 and 1 pm. Indian bureaucracy. So we used the extra time to mail a parcel toVancouver, and look after a few personal needs. Sally had her nails done; and I decided to have a haircut. Unfortunately, the hairdresser didn’t speak English and she interpreted my request to take just a little off with leave just a little on. Sally and Ou think the haircut makes me look younger. Ross thinks it makes my ears look much older! At least I won’t need another haircut until we return in September.
Sitting in Ross’s apartment this morning, we reflected on how different travel is today compared to the 60’s when we were both traveling around Europe. Back then, American Express was indispensable. ‘Poste Restante American Express’ was everyone’s address in the major cities of Europe, and Travelers’ Cheques were the standard form of currency. Today we stay in touch through email and blogs, and Travelers’ Cheques are a thing of the past (for most of us). Instead we use ATM machines and credit cards.
Although most banking is now done over the internet, from time to time, it’s nice to be able to walk into a bank. In anticipation of our trip, for a number of reasons, Sally and I switched from CIBC to HSBC. As we were setting off, Maureen Jones, our Account Manager invited us to take advantage of the bank’s international ‘Concierge Service’.
Consequently, when I accidentally left a sweater and memory stick on a bench in Auckland, the bank sent them to me c/o its Melbourne office. When we needed US dollars in Hanoi, we took a taxi to the HSBC Branch Office and had our money in a few minutes. The bank then called us a taxi and even negotiated a better taxi fare to our next destination! We have discovered that some Asian hotels offer better rates to HSBC customers on the Wotif booking site, and restaurants offer a discount if you use an HSBC Credit Card.
It is very comforting to get off a plane in a city and see the HSBC advertisements in the airport. We have been to so many branches, we are sometimes suspected of being two of the bank’s ‘mystery shoppers’. As we travel around the world, the tagline ‘the world’s local bank’ is quite apt. HSBC is our new American Express.
Once again, it was very comfortable staying with Ou and Ross. We were spoilt by them, and could do little in return. But hopefully one day when they visit Vancouver, we can reciprocate. Until then, thanks Ou and Ross.