Monday, November 12, 2012

Settling up, Astan-style

I went to try to pay for my hotel bill in the evening since I am leaving early for Samarkand.  I was informed that because I arrived early in the morning, I was being charged an extra half day.  I tried to protest, pointing out that my reservation was made for that day, and not the day prior, and the embassy had booked it as such.  My protest got me nowhere.

Fine.  The bill for 2.5 days came to $125 USD.  I asked if I could pay by credit card. No only cash.  And it has to be in local currency.  But wait, I said, you are charging me in dollars, why can't I pay in dollars.  No, we only accept som.

They first offered me to change my dollars at the official rate, but I balked at that (1,900 vs. 2,650 to the dollar). Then the woman offered to call a friend to change it at 2.1k to the greenback, but that still left me on the losing end.  She said I wouldn't be able to find a place open at that hour to change, but I thought otherwise.

I trudged out.  I first checking with a tout standing outside a plush hotel, but he offered 2,500, so I ventured on and back to the convenience store where I changed money the previous day.  My plan was to change $125 into 500 som notes and drop the bricks on the front desk of the hotel, but the fellow recognized me and was willing to give me the slightly larger note this time.  I tried to explain I wanted the 500 notes, but quickly gave up when linguistic differences foiled my plan.

So I left with my bundles, caught a ride on the side of the road in the car of an old man with a wispy beard and two kids in the back.  Everybody here is potentially a cabby, as I have learned.  I returned to the hotel, and paid out.  I laughed at the realization that the bill was based on the official conversion, so the hotel was actually losing money because my bill was significantly cheaper based on the outside exchange rate.

PS: In Abba We Trust.  Thanks to the AbbaTM for this article on local currencies in DC.  I got my hands on some Potomacs, which I gave to Harry's money collection.  

1 comment:

Harry Rockower said...

I see you are learning to grok, I can't wait for lots of new moeney