The Indonesian Currency is the IR or Indonesia Rupiah. There are many zeros on the bills. Example 10,000 IR equals about $1.00. The 100,000 IR equals about $10.00.
It is very easy to become confused. Once you memorize the colors and sizes. Not all bills are green or the same proportions - the more valuable the bill the larger it is. This tends to make wallet designers crazy! Also drives tourist crazy, “How much is that? “Well that costs 2 small blue ones and 1 large pink one.”
One can change US dollars anywhere on the streets at “Money Changers.” These can be in an official carnival looking booth or inside a normal retail store. In Thailand changing money is a very official process with the changers behind glass and receipts being signed. Bali is not so official.
I had an unpleasant experience 6 years ago when I was short changed for about $50.00. This is when I realized that some of the moneychangers sidelined as magicians. They can make rupiah disappear before your eyes! More or less like 3-card Monte. If you are cruising the streets and comparing exchange rates and one changer has a better rate that is too good to be true, well that is just the case.
I had warned Amy to be watchful of moneychangers but we were sucked in to a better then average rate late one afternoon. You have to keep in mind that it is very, very, VERY hot in Bali and often hard to think straight. I’m sure we were hungry too!
This particular money-changer was offering 10,000 as opposed to 94500. It wasn’t too much higher so Amy decided she wanted to try. She placed her $100 on the counter and 45 seconds later the one million rupiah was counted, recounted arranged and rearranged as well as any street magician we’d ever seen. Amy even got to count it several times herself. But as the transaction was coming to a close Amy counted one last time and realized 300,000 was missing. The changer proclaimed his innocence stating that he was only taking his commission.
Thankfully Amy’s $100 was still sitting on the counter throughout the whole transaction. She grabbed her money back, I gave them a piece of Gladys and we went on our way. Even the ATM’s don’t ask for that steep a commission!