I left Uzbekistan today with about 1,200,000 more Soms than I intended. Two problems: hotels in Uzbekistan do not accept local currency for room payment and Soms cannot easily be exchanged outside Uzbekistan.
One of my fondest memories of my time in Tashkent will be the whole “black market” exchange process. Everyone is anxious to exchange money with you. Taxi drivers? Check. Restaurant waiters? Check. School teachers? Check.
It’s an amazing country that has virtually no official exchange offices but has millions of unofficial exchange offices via its citizens.
With the official rate at 4,120 UZS (Uzbekistan Som) to 1 USD and the black mark rate over 7,000 to 1, it seemed like a no brainer to exchange dollars and settle our hotel bill in local currency.
So last night I pulled out two $100 notes and easily found a willing participant to exchange it. I went to bed pleased that our already cheap hotel room at the Hyatt Tashkent would be even cheaper.
But when Ben and I checked out this morning, we received the bad the news–
Oh no sir, you cannot pay in soms. Only dollars.
I was incredulous. First off, a hotel staff member had helped me to find someone to change the money! Second, how can a hotel not accept payment in local currency?
You can bet I pushed back, but the front desk attendant claimed it was national law. Law or not, it is also a very clever way to pad profits…
Oddly, incidentals can be paid by Soms, so we got rid of some of them at least, but I was left with this souvenir–
Not surprisingly, no one will exchange Soms here in Tajikistan…
Thus, I’m left with the prospect of returning to Uzbekistan (and maybe catch the Il-114 this time) or not buying toilet paper for awhile.
Any tips on how I can liquidate my cash?