Money For Nothing
Tashkent Travel Blog› entry 65 of 80 › view all entries
We have read that in Central Asia "wierd sxxt happens" and soon after arriving in Tashkent we begin to understand exactly what this means. Nothing quite sums this up like the Uzbek money. The Uzbek currency is the Sum and there are approximately 2000 to the dollar. That all sounds fine but what is crazy is that the largest note in circulation is 1000 Sum ie worth approx 50c! Everyone here is expert at counting 1000 Sum notes as most purchases require the use of 10 or 15 1000 Sum notes.
There are also very few cash machines here so I go looking for a bank that will change a travellers cheque. My first effort the bank won't even change cash but the guards on duty at the bank are happy to take me aside and change $100. Later I do find a branch of the National Bank who will change my travellers cheques and I end up with 800,000 Sum and need a sachel to carry this back to the hotel.
We arrived in the dead of night from Istanbul and though the immigration and customs procedures were painfully slow we had no problem entering Uzbekistan and finding a taxi to take us to our hotel. We had thought we might be able to find the train station early in the morning and buy a ticket leaving today to Samarkand but this was always optimistic. We track down the train station (Vokzal as it is known) and buy a ticket for the express train leaving tomorrow for Samarkand, all straightforward except our transaction is delayed by 10 minutes while a drunk guy is evicted from the ticket desks by station security. As they said "wierd sxxt happens"!