When we were in Cuba years ago we exchanged American bills for some Cuban “currency”, the peso. They went through every bill examining it closely, any bill that had a small tear or fold or was not in good condition they would reject, it took forever. We are going to Myanmar on our upcoming trip and I have read that they are the same about the condition of American cash, and in addition, credit cards are not widely accepted.
Like Cuba, the currency in Myanmar is funny money, manipulated by the government and you can only obtain it when you are in country and you can’t leave with any amount at all. Because of this, they crave hard currency, especially pristine American dollars; Tourists have been known to iron bills to get the folds out.
So for weeks before our trip I have been obsessed with the search for ‘like new’ dollars, in every denomination, as change is apparently also hard to come by. I have been setting aside bills and visiting multiple banks in search of new greenbacks. When I explained what I needed, they looked at me like I was laundering money for a drug cartel. Not to mention the fact that everything is now computerized and the tellers can’t know the condition of the bills that spit out.
But with all that hard work, by the time we left I had a wad of bills totaling a thousand dollars, plus currency for all the five countries we are visiting. Heading to the airport with two thousand dollars in my pocket, I felt like a gangster.