Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Literally everything I spent last month

There were a couple of reasons why I never travelled before eight months ago.

One was my workaholic dislike of holidays (to me, 'holidays' means that extra money they add to your last pay packet when you quit a job), and the other was that I mistakenly thought travelling had to be expensive. Blame it on all the luxury travel agents I wrote copy for - I started believing my own propaganda.

But I've discovered travelling really isn't expensive, especially when you go somewhere cheap like South East Asia. It costs me less to travel around Malaysia, enjoy life and eat nice food all the time than it did to exist in a miserable flat in the UK, eating whatever crap I scavenged from the Reduced to Clear section of Morrissons and waiting for the blessed relief of death.

You say this a lot, but where's the evidence to back it up?

Oh I see, you want needlessly thorough and intrusive stats on my finances do you? You want the moon on a stick.


Living in Malaysia in May 2011 I spent RM2,292.32 (GBP467.82)

These figures account for literally everything I spent money on in May 2011, from the essentials of accommodation, food and drink to bus tickets, tours, tax payments, phone bills and prostitutes (not really - I don't even have a phone).

I didn't have a control experiment to tell me how much I would have spent if living in the UK during this time, but the cheapest rent I ever had in Edinburgh was GBP250 per month (RM1,225 - that's excluding bills and everything else).

I'm not trying to show off about how great I am at not spending money - I was genuinely interested in finding out how things compared, so doctoring these figures would be as damaging to my interests as memorising the eye chart at Specsavers. (The bottom line is G F S P D R C H, if you want to impress the optician and screw up your prescription for 18 months).

GBP1.00 = RM4.90

Sunday 1 May

Accommodation: RM20
Food: Steamed chicken with rice balls (RM4), pineapple tarts (RM4.50), sushi pack (RM10)
Drink: Water bottle (RM1.50), wheatgrass juice (RM3)
Activities: Melaka Toy Museum (RM5)

Total: RM48 (GBP9.80)

Pointless nostalgia at Melaka Toy Museum (RM5)

Monday 2 May

Accommodation: RM17
Food: Pepperoni pizza (RM10), chicken curry + naan (RM8)
Drink: Water bottle (RM1.50), blended lime juice (RM4), coffee (RM2.50), Coke can (RM2)
Activities: Taming Sari revolving tower (RM20)
Other: Book The Most of P.G. Wodehouse (RM15 + book exchange)

Total: RM80 (GBP16.33)

Tuesday 3 May

Accommodation: RM17
Food: Laksa (RM3.50), chicken rice (RM4), chicken in black pepper sauce (RM3.50)
Drink: Water bottle (RM1.50)
Other: Toilet roll (RM1), British Red Cross direct debit (GBP3)

Total: RM45.20 (GBP9.22)

Wednesday 4 May

Accommodation: RM22
Food: Egg McMuffin breakfast (RM4.50), Mentos packet (RM1.50), Malay style fried rice (RM4)
Drink: Water bottle x2 (RM6), beer can x3 (RM10)
Travel: Taxi to Melaka Sentral bus station (RM15), bus ticket to Mersing (RM28), ferry to Tioman Island (RM35)

Total: RM126 (GBP25.71)

Thursday 5 May

Accommodation: RM22
Food: Chicken curry + egg (RM6), Nestle Drumstick ice cream (RM2.50), chicken cheese burger + chips (RM6), Pattaya fried rice (RM5)
Drink: Ice coffee (RM2), water bottle x2 (RM6)
Other: Internet access (RM10)

Total: RM59.50 (GBP12.14)

Friday 6 May

Accommodation: RM22
Food: Mushroom omelette (RM3.50), chicken Szechwan + plain rice (RM9.20), fried noodles Kampung style (RM4)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle x2 (RM6), ice coffee (RM2), beer can x2 (RM10)
Other: Internet access (RM5), tax payment (GBP31.20)

Total: RM216.08 (GBP44.10)

Saturday 7 May

Accommodation: RM25
Food: Malaysian omelette (RM3.50), beef burger, egg + chips (RM7), fried noodles (RM4)
Drink: Fresh lime juice (RM2), water bottle x2 (RM7), coffee (RM1.50), gin + tonic x2 (RM16)

Total: RM66 (GBP13.47)

Sunday 8 May

Accommodation: RM25
Food: Poached eggs on toast (RM2.50), Kung Fu noodles (RM7), margherita pizza (RM7.50)
Drink: Water bottle x3 (RM9), Bacardi bottle (RM15), gin + tonic (RM8)
Activities: Snorkelling trip (RM70)

Total: RM128.50 (GBP26.22)

Before I went snorkelling (RM70), the extent of my marine knowledge came from watching Sharky and George (more pointless nostalgia for you there)

Monday 9 May

Accommodation: RM25
Food: Vegetable omelette + chips (RM6), grilled squid, rice + salad (RM14), garlic bread (RM3), garlic pizza (RM7)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle x2 (RM7)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM68.50 (GBP13.98)

Tuesday 10 May

Accommodation: RM25
Food: Pattaya fried noodles (RM5), nasi goreng + chicken wing (RM7)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle (RM4), vodka bottle (RM15), Sprite bottle (RM5)
Activities: Snorkel + mask rental (RM4)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM71.50 (GBP14.60)

Wednesday 11 May

Accommodation: RM25
Food: Fried egg, beans + toast (RM5), cheese burger + chips (RM6), cookies (RM2), squid sambal + plain rice (RM9.20)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle x2 (RM6), beer can x1.5 (RM5)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM64.70 (GBP13.20)

Thursday 12 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Mushroom omelette (RM3.50), honey cashew nuts (RM3), chicken burger, egg + chips (RM7)
Drink: Coffee x2 (RM3), water bottle (RM3)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM54.50 (GBP11.12)

Friday 13 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Nasi lemak, chicken + egg (RM5.50), Tioman style fried chicken, chips + salad (RM14), peanut M&Ms (RM3), Apollo Bubbles chocolate bar (RM0.60), Zess original chocolate bar (RM0.60)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle x2 (RM6), ice coffee (RM2)
Activities: Snorkel + mask rental (RM4)
Other: Internet access (RM2)

Total: RM69.10 (GBP14.10)

Saturday 14 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Nasi lemak, chicken + egg (RM5.50), vegetable curry + rice (RM5.20), crisp packet (RM2), Mentos packet x2 (RM3.50), cheese burger, egg + fries (RM7), oat biscuits packet (RM2)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle (RM3)
Other: Internet access (RM5), toilet roll (RM2)

Total: RM66.70 (GBP13.61)

Sunday 15 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Malaysian omelette (RM3.50), Pattaya noodles (RM5), lemon puff biscuits packet (RM3), fried chicken, chips + beans (RM10)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), fresh lime juice (RM2), water bottle (RM3)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM63 (GBP12.86)

DIY snorkelling (RM4) is a lot more cost-effective than a tour, and more exciting when you come across unexpected wrecks

Monday 16 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Vegetable curry + rice (RM5.20), fried chicken, chips + beans (RM10), Mentos packet (RM2), coconut biscuits packet (RM2)
Drink: Coffee x2 (RM3), water bottle (RM4)
Other: Internet access (RM3)

Total: RM59.20 (GBP12.08)

Tuesday 17 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Nasi lemak, chicken + egg (RM5.50), coconut biscuits packet (RM2), fish in oyster sauce + rice (RM9.20)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle (RM3), Milo (RM1.50)
Other: Internet access (RM3)

Total: RM55.70 (GBP11.37)

Wednesday 18 May

Accommodation: RM30
Food: Tuna sandwiches (RM3), coconut biscuits packet (RM2), Tioman fried chicken, chips + salad (RM14), Nips packet (RM3.50)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle x2 (RM6)
Other: Internet access (RM5)

Total: RM65 (GBP13.27)

Thursday 19 May

Accommodation: RM15
Food: Fried eggs, beans + toast (RM4), chicken, beef curry, vegetable + rice (RM7), garden salad (RM3.80)
Drink: Water bottle x2 (RM2.50), Coke draught (RM2.80), 100 Plus can (RM1.50)
Travel: Ferry to Mersing (RM35)
Other: Batteries x4 (RM4.90)

Total: RM76.50 (GBP15.61)

Friday 20 May

Accommodation: RM20
Food: Nasi goreng (RM3), chicken curry + rice (RM5)
Drink: Wheatgrass juice (RM1.50), Coke can (RM2), water bottle (RM2)
Travel: Bus to Kuantan (RM16.30), bus to Cherating (RM10)
Other: Internet access (RM1), toilet roll (RM1.80)

Total: RM54.50 (GBP11.12)

Saturday 21 May

Accommodation: RM20
Food: Fish, vegetables + rice (RM4), ginger beef + rice (RM6)
Drink: Ice coffee (RM1), water bottle (RM2), root beer can x2 (RM4), Horlicks (RM2)
Activities: Firefly watching trip (RM15)
Other: Plaster (RM1.60)

Total: RM55.60 (GBP11.35)

Sunday 22 May

Accommodation: RM20
Food: Chicken omelette (RM5), roti pong packet (RM3), beef curry + rice (RM7)
Drink: Rose flavoured soya drink can (RM2), water bottle (RM2), hot lime drink (RM1), Horlicks (RM2)
Activities: Mangrove river cruise (RM20)
Other: Internet access (RM1)

Total: RM63 (GBP12.86)

Anti-cow discrimination still very much a part of life in Cherating

Monday 23 May

Accommodation: RM8
Food: Chicken vegetables + rice (RM5), fried chicken meal (RM6.80), Mentos packet (RM1.60)
Drink: Coffee (RM1), ice cream soda (RM1.80), barley drink (RM2.20), water bottle (RM2.50)
Travel: Bus to Kuantan (RM4.50), bus to Jerantut (RM22)
Other: Bank account fee (GBP12.99), donation (RM2), watch (RM10), plasters (RM1.70)

Total: RM131.74 (GBP26.89)

Tuesday 24 May

Accommodation: RM8
Food: Nasi lemak (RM2), biscuit assortment (RM4.50), fried chicken, chicken burger + chips (RM10)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.20), water bottle (RM2)

Total: RM27.70 (GBP5.65)

Wednesday 25 May

Accommodation: RM10
Food: Scrambled egg + toast (RM5), cuttlefish in soy sauce + rice (RM6), sweet and sour beef + rice (RM6.50)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), orange juice (RM3), water bottle (RM2.50), ice coffee (RM1.50)
Travel: Bus to Kuala Tembeling (RM5), boat to Kuala Tahan (RM35)
Activities: Night walk (RM20)
Other: Taman Negara park entry fee (RM1), camera license fee (RM5), toilet (RM0.50), T-shirt (RM35), torch + batteries (RM10)

Total: RM141.50 (GBP28.88)

Thursday 26 May

Accommodation: RM10
Food: Nasi lemak + egg (RM2), ginger beef + rice (RM5), burger + chips (RM6)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), orange juice x2 (RM6), water bottle (RM3)
Activities: Jungle trekking + canopy walk (RM30)
Other: Internet access (RM1), toilet roll (RM1)

Total: RM65.50 (GBP13.37)

Friday 27 May

Accommodation: RM10
Food: Noodles + chicken (RM6), raisin buns (RM2.60), beef + vegetables + rice (RM6.50)
Drink: Coffee x2 (RM3), water bottle x2 (RM5.50)
Activities: Rapids trip (RM30)
Other: Internet access (RM1)

Total: RM64.60 (GBP13.18)

Saturday 28 May

Accommodation: RM10
Food: Chicken burger + chips (RM5), fish and chips (RM4)
Drink: Pepsi x2 (RM2.20), water bottle (RM1.60)
Travel: Bus to Jerantut (RM25), bus to Kuala Lipis (RM6.50)

Total: RM54.30 (GBP11.08)

Sunday 29 May

Accommodation: RM24
Food: Nasi goreng pattaya (RM5), coconut biscuits (RM2.30)
Drink: Coffee (RM1.50), water bottle (RM1.50)
Travel: Bus to Kuala Lumpur (RM14.50)

Total: RM43.80 (GBP)

I ate chicken at least 28 times this month (definitely more - I don't always know ingredients).
When the hens take over, this blog will be damning evidence of my fowl crimes

Monday 30 May

Accommodation: RM24
Food: Rojak (RM3.50), fish curry + rice + unidentifiable Indian side dishes (RM5)
Drink: Pepsi can x2 (RM3.50), water bottle (RM1.20), grape drink can (RM2)
Travel: Return train to Kepong (RM2)
Activities: Forest Research Institute of Malaysia entry (RM5)
Other: Laundry (RM15)

Total: RM61.20 (GBP12.49)

Tuesday 31 May

Accommodation: RM24
Food: Chicken burger, fried chicken + chips (RM8), nasi goreng kampong (RM3.50), 'special' hot dog (special means 'wrapped in egg' - RM3)
Drink: Pepsi (RM2.50), water bottle (RM2.50)
Other: Plasters (RM1.70)

Total: RM45.20 (GBP9.22)

Grand total: RM 2,292.32 (GBP 467.82)

There's my month in numbers. I have the meticulous devotion of a psychotic serial killer; I only lack the ambition.

Why do I put myself through these inconvenient ordeals? That was more demanding than forcing myself to write a novel in a month. I was going to write a detailed analysis of my spending habits as a follow-up, but I think that'd actually finish me off.

Why not try tediously cataloguing your own expenditure for fun?

Or even funner - go over all these calculations and point out the few minor mistakes I inevitably made? Yes, that would be fun for me too.

Coming next month: Dave goes on a diet and obsesses over calorie counting in more detail than is strictly necessary

Top chicken photo: Brian Mosley


  1. One day I might go through each day checking for inaccuracies, but for now I'm just going to ask one question.

    How on Earth can this be accurate?

    GBP1.00 = RM4.90
    RM1.00 = GBP0.20

    If I had one GBP1.00 you'd give me RM4.90 but if to get GBP1.00 from you I'd need to find an extra RM0.10 from somewhere. I smell a scam.

  2. Actually, I'm not sure if you're scamming or being scammed.

  3. Yeah, I noticed that. It's just me lazily rounding to two figures, based on the exchange rate a couple of weeks ago.

    Today's is RM4.96 for £1 or 20p (20.15p) for RM1, so there are still magic pence. I worked in ringgets and converted to GBP later anyway (apart from a couple of direct debits that went the other way).

  4. You could probably just ask for 'leap pence' if you ever found yourself in that situation (or the other way round - I can't do numbers).

  5. I've done some slightly less thorough calculating for the other months of this year (adding up the 'debit' column of my bank statements) and it seems this month wasn't so typical after all - some were cheaper, but most were a few hundred pounds more expensive.

    This could indicate that it's cheaper to travel around Malaysia than most other SE Asian countries, or that constant, tedious price-vigilance encourages you to look after the ringgets.