08 June, 2010

Currency: IQD

Taxi rides here run 3-4000 Iraqi dinars, or about three dollars at the current exchange rate (1 USD = 1180 IQD). As i sat waiting in the minibus, i did some quick math to see how i'd fared. So far, i exchanged money with a shop owner (100 turkish lira for 100,000 dinars) and a young man with a stand on the street (80 YTL for 52,000 IQD). Pleasantly surprised, i came out overall a little on the plus side - but i don't recommend the street stand method.

For anyone who's dreamed of life without coins, my answer is: try having a wallet stuffed with a wad of low-value paper money. Bottled water is 250-500 dinars ($0.22-0.43), and once you've gotten a few 250 dinar bills you realize the jingle of coins is a rather nice sensation. Pennies, i will agree, are useless for the most part. In Turkiye the smallest coin is 5 kuruş, and that's a nice stopping point.

Regarding prices here: good quality men's dress shirts in the bazaar start at 10,000 to 15,000 ($8.50 and up). Regular gas 750/litre ($2.40/gallon), and Marlboros cost about $1.40 a pack. Decent fast food can be had for less than two dollars. So come to Kurdistan - but remember to bring a wad of cash; when i find (glory be!) a seller with New Balance sneakers to replace the tattered shoes i'm wearing, i discover merchants are not set up for plastic.