I think one of the hot topics with anyone interested in traveling to Myanmar is money.
"No, sorry" she leaned, sliding my hundred dollar back to me with a polite smile. "It is marked".
I didn't know what she meant. I had tried to get the freshest and newest looking dollars possible. She pointed to a marking on the back of the bill. There it was. Someone had discretely stamped it as some type of authorization, similar to the way American sales people like to hold up a fresh bill to the light to examine it's authenticity before striping it with a highlighter to see if affects counterfeit paint.
Who turns away a hundred dollar bill?
I'm sure it's heartbreaking on both ends.
Myanmar's corrupt currency history
Although I'd heard about U.S. bills being rejected for slight misdemeanors, it still seemed kinda nutty that a developing country would reject a hundred dollar bill. At the time, I didn't know their history with currency.
In earlier days, the government used to mess with the people. They'd change the currency on them. If they felt too many people were getting rich, they'd announce that the currencies of the highest denomination — like the hundred dollar bill-- would be taken out of circulation. Hundred dollar bills lost their value. All that money was lost.
The government would also change their own currency denominations based on whim, like a leader's lucky number. So eventually that the Burmese realized the one currency whose value couldn't easily be changed on whim was the American dollar.
Distrusting of the government and banks, many Burmese withdrew their money and started keeping their American dollars in large books, to keep their dollars pressed, safe and pristine.
Today, many Burmese still prefer to safeguard their money in their homes.
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