Money Matters

One thing that always takes some time after you enter in a foreign country is to get a feeling for the foreign currency.

The one good thing about the yuan is its exchange rate because it is not hard to calculate for me: One Euro roughly equals 10 yuan. So just divide the price by ten and voilà – you have a familiar value. Well, at least you know how much you are spending in Euros. Because most goods are cheaper in China, you sometimes calculate twice just to double check whether you are really spending that few money – especially food is sold at a remarkable price.

The downside about the yuan are the banknotes: There are a lot of them, but the highest one only accounts for 100 yuan (ca. 10 Euros or 12 $). So if you need to pay a large amount, the money literally piles up. This absurd way of having to pay with a bundle of banknotes is supported by the Chinese’ skepticism against electronic payment or checks. An example of such a payment is my tuition that can apparently only be payed with cash at the university. See a picture of the money how it looked like before I handed it in.

Bundle of Yuan bills
A bundle of 100 yuan bills to pay my tuition

The look of the different banknotes is a little bit confusing, as well. I don’t have a problem that Mao is depicted in each and every banknote, because they all have different colors – the 1 yuan bill is green, the 5 yuan bill is somewhat purple and so on (of course the banknote with the largest amount, the 100 yuan bill is colored in red). My problem is that there are older bills and newer and both are eligible for paying. But for example the old 1 yuan bill differs in color and size from the new one. So it’s hard to keep track of what you are paying with.

New and old one yuan
A new and an old one yuan bill

Last but not least there are some coins. So far, I only had access to a 1 mao coin (though in written Chinese language it would be a 1 jiao coin). This is a tenth of a yuan, about one cent. But there is also a tiny banknote for 5 and 1 mao, as well. So you don’t really know where you need to check for change if the cashier asks whether you have 5 mao or not…

So as you can see, it’s not always easy to pay something in China.

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2 Responses to “Money Matters”

  1. Pay the water fees « Beijing 2007 Says:

    […] (中国银行) to pay the water fees (交水费). At least I had been in a Chinese bank before when I changed my money to pay my tuition. So I knew that I was supposed to get a number when I entered the bank, but I did not see the […]

  2. Solar Power Home » Yingli Solar Gets $5.3 Billion to Bulk up Manufacturing Says:

    […] Business Week Photo Credit: Beijing 2007 More […]

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