The Uzbek Som is a crazy currency.
At the time of writing, the official exchange rate was USD$1 = 3790 Som, which is not necessarily problematic, until you realise that the most commonly used note is 1000 Som. And although Uzbekistan is quite a cheap country to travel in, even something that costs $5 suddenly starts to need a lot of notes!
To this end, you end up walking around with huge bricks of cash (the below is equivalent to about $35)
and spend forever actually counting out the money for whatever you are paying for. Here is me counting out the equivalent of $10 to pay for dinner for 4 people!
This craziness is also suffered by the locals, who are extremely adept at counting wads of money very quickly, and vendors who literally walk around with armloads of cash.
The other interesting this is that there are very, very few (if any?) ATMs in Uzbekistan that you can use. Perhaps this is because they can’t fit enough notes in them to make it viable, so make sure you bring USD or Euros to exchange! Then make sure you exchange on the black market, where the rate is double the official rate (USD$1 = 8000 Som at the minute). Where do you find the black market? It’s really not hard … just walk around a local bazaar for a bit and any number of guys will approach you.
Happy shopping 😊