Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Of Uzbekistan: The Big Wad of Bills


OK, so once again this isn't the most amazing picture, but it is illustrative. The first things one does as a tourist in any country is acquire a bit of the local currency. The above photo represents the stack of money you get if you change about $150 into Uzbek sum. The biggest note they have is 1000 sum, which is about 65 cents. So US$200 = 300,000 Uzbek sum = a stack of 300 ratty notes that one has to find space for in their luggage. The other result is that you walk around as a tourist with a stack of 1000 sum notes in your pocket and therefore, tourist-area vendors being smart people, no price for anything is ever less than 1000 sum, which is fine because you really get to feel that you have a bottomless supply of 1000 sum notes to throw around. And when you have to pay for something expensive -- like $13 expensive -- you feel like you're in a gangster movie, pulling out a giant wad of bills and counting off 20 of them to hand over. Thinking of which - maybe there is tourist appeal in the tiny banknotes, after all.

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