Cash Talks

June 14, 2018

At 1 am, after I have checked into the hotel, I am trying to pay my bill using my Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa. The card is ran. “transaction error” comes out on the printed slip. Not once, not twice…4 TIMES!

I call the international collect phone number on back of my Chase card. I explain what is going on. I am told that there isn’t anything showing up on their end with regards to any transactions being initiated. The problem is on the machine side.

I try my Charles Schwab Visa card. “Transaction error”

No. Way. This is NOT happening. Being stranded in China for two months unable to withdraw money from any bank using my debit card flashes before my eyes. NOOOOooo!

“Don’t worry. It will all work out in the morning (I bite back the remark, “It is already morning.”). We take care of it. You are tired” says the night desk manager. The same guy who tells me that there is no G Adventure/GEEO group staying at the hotel on June 15. “Are you with the Canadian photography group?” he asks. It turns out THEY had stayed here on Monday.

Anyway… I go to bed.

The main manager helps me in the morning. I give him my Visa. We get a “transaction error” slip in return. I am going to cry. Out of frustration. We try again, and IT GOES THROUGH!

I am excited. The manager is excited. I am given a glass of water to celebrate.

I walk to HSBC Bank next door to exchange the large banknotes that I had bought through AAA.

The bank people are so helpful, nice, informative. They open up the ATM machine to break the large notes into smaller brand-new denominations.

Getting a stack with a band wrap around the notes stating, $10,000 is exciting. “This sounds so much more than what it really is,” I say. We all laugh. But still, a bundle of crisp brand-new 100 INRS and 1,000, 10 INRS notes looks impressive.

In reality, a 10 INR note equals .15 US cents. 100 INR note equals $1.50. 500 INR equals $7.50

What does this get me?

A tuk-tuk ride was 100 INR.

A hired driver for airport pickup, and going 24km is 850 INR.

Tipping the bellboy, 20 INR

Large bottle of cold water, 1 L and a can of Coke is 55 INR or about .75.

So as you can see, $350 US dollars can go pretty far in India. And you have to negotiate… but that’s a whole other topic.

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