Uzbek som for dayzzz

Below is a really crummy picture of me with my newly converted money, as well as some others' money for effect:

That grainy picture, taken with the amazing windows surface tablet that my dad so kindly lent me, portrays me holding about $300 USD. The money I converted, a mere $60, is about two of those rubber-banded stacks. The bills are all 1000 som each, the most common bill, aka the largest. Ben actually informed us that they just introduced a 5000 som bill just last year. After having the som for over 20 years.

Here in Uzbekistan, there are two exchange rates. The official rate is about 2700 som per 1 USD. The black market rate is (currently) 5100 som per $1. So obviously you want the latter. While it is the black market and technically illegal, it is super common to trade on the black market for currency. You could skate by without converting any money, as USD are accepted pretty much everywhere (because they know they can trade it for a good deal), even with street vendors. But when you pay with USD, you end up paying more, essentially because it is just worth more. No one really pays in credit or debit cards because you get money at the official rate. I was confused by this, since it doesn't seem to make sense for locals, because they, by nature, wouldn't have USD. But even still, everything is rated against the dollar, and even British Matt exchanged his GBP for USD to get some leeway here.

Luckily nothing is too expensive. A hotel beer, on the steep side, is 21,000 som. A beer at lunch was only 7000. Bek explained that large purchases, like cars or condos, are paid in USD. A cheap car is about $6500 USD. Paying that in som is paying with over 33,000 bills. Not som, BILLS.

It's a good thing we don't have to purchase a lot (everything but souvenirs is pretty much included in our trip), otherwise we might have to pull a Wolf Of Wall Street: