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The Time We Got Scammed in India

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The REAL Brown Bread Bakery sign (via TripAdvisor)

We are eight weeks into our trip (!!) and in about a week we’ll be finished with the Southeast Asia portion. SE Asia is infamous for the scams targeting tourists and, thankfully aside from a few rouge taxis, we have managed to avoid all but one.

That one is the knockoff-bakery-cum-fake-charity in Varanasi, India.

Brown Bread Bakery is a real restaurant in Varanasi (the first organic bakery and restaurant) that supports a real life charity called Learn for Life, proving education for impoverished children to help break the cycle of poverty. Read more about Brown Bread and Learn for Life here: http://bakerybreadbrown.blogspot.com/

Unfortunately, Ryan and I stumbled into a fake version. They have the similar signs and are a mere 10 meters down the road from each other. The fake Brown Bread has the same menu (although many items are “unavailable” since they aren’t actually a bakery) and will even take “donations” meant for Learn for Life, but pocket them instead! This fake restaurant is owned by the unscrupulous ex-business partners of the REAL Brown Bread who are just using the name of a good restaurant and charity to make more money for themselves.

I hope Karma takes notice.

We spent less than $10 at the fake Brown Bread, but it was still heartbreaking when we walked out to the real one and to find out the situation. The real Brown Bread has a rooftop seating area, four floors total, and a shop area on the ground floor selling muesli and other organic wares.

We didn’t do our research and have felt pretty down about it, but lesson learned.

When I Bought the Wrong Plane Ticket

Last week, I had a pretty big meltdown.

It was my first full day at my new job. I hadn’t slept well and was running home to try and catch my fiance on Skype before he headed off to a conference and I headed back to work. I had an email alert that one of the flights I’d been watching had dropped over $100. Score! I logged on and found flights for even less… a roundtrip flight between Bangkok and Yangon for $80/person. Score.

Unfortunately, in my rush and with a lack of focus, I not only bought flights for the wrong location (to Ranong, Thailand when trying to summon RGN-Yangon, Myanmar), but I also bought them for the wrong dates. What. the. heck.

Fortunately I caught it immediately (although why I didn’t check again before I pressed the purchase button I will never know) but unfortunately I had a major freak out. Thankfully I was not at my new office and there was almost no one there to see it happen. Except my fiance, via Skype, who handled it like a champ. Not only did he call the airline to see about possibility to change, he made sure to give me all the info for the correct flights so that my dad could follow up later to actually change the flight. Dad called Thailand for me and sorted out the situation while I went back to work.

I’m a perfectionist and it’s really hard for me to let go of things. If I make a mistake or screw up, I want to fix it myself and I want to fix it NOW.

This was a good reminder that I can’t always fix everything by myself and there are really amazing people in my life who are willing to help me when I do screw up. I consider myself really lucky and blessed to have the friends and family that I do, who are always willing to support me ever 8,500 miles away. So I just want to say thanks and that I love you all very much!

PS In case you’re curious, the stupid tax only cost me about $80 USD (so $240 total for two people) which STILL kept the tickets cheaper than the next lowest fare of $268/person. So I’d say as far as stupid taxes go, this one was a lucky break.

Costs During Peace Corps Application Process

I meant to keep a detailed listing of all the costs associated with my Peace Corps application, but too often life just got in the way. But hey, I like seeing costs broken down so I decided to do it anyway!

$10 – University transcript
$20 – Fingerprinting
$35 – Various printing/mailing costs
$108 – Lab work that health insurance wouldn’t cover
$112 – Econolabs (2 lab tests my doctor forgot to order)
$195 – Yellow Fever vaccine & administration

TOTAL = $480

Overall, that’s not bad. Especially because I expect to have $315 reimbursed by PC for physical exam & Yellow Fever vaccine. I also had no dental or eye exam costs, since I was already regularly seeing my dentist and getting work done and had recently had an eye exam (so he just filled out of the prescription form)… otherwise my costs easily would have been much higher.

The total also doesn’t involve ANY purchases after invitation (aside from Yellow Fever vaccine) for things like backpacks, shoes, rain coat, sleeping bag and everything else I plan on taking to Ethiopia.

July Financial Update

Similar to my post on Friday, this is likely to be one of the last financial summaries for awhile. I think I would like to keep track of my budget, but we will see what happens when I arrive and settle into my life overseas!

Debt

Here’s how things look:

As a reminder, you can view the full, most up-to-date debt spreadsheet here.

Budget

Blew it. Bought a couple backpacks and some necessary items for the big move.

Net worth: $11,574.91  (down 3.05% from June)

June Financial Summary

It’s incredibly hard to believe that it’s already July. Where has time gone?! I spent a little too much time in the sun yesterday and today I’m off to the wonderful Pacific northwest. I can’t wait to get out of this heat!

Debt

Here’s how things look:

As a reminder, you can view the full, most up-to-date debt spreadsheet here.

Budget

Didn’t track it again because of all the travelling I did. Crappy excuse, but it’s true.

Net worth: $18,315.65  (up 11.31% from May)

My net worth FINALLY started turning around and had a positive increase. Sometimes I still get frustrated that it is so low (shouldn’t it be higher by now??) I look at how far it’s come in the past year. Up $12k over the past 12 months and I realize that’s not too bad!!