Friends are a good thing to have! Anytime and anyplace, having friends you can count on is a wonderful feeling. Who knows, they may even help you from time to time — that is what my airport buddy does in China.
Over the years, I have had many interactions with a man in the Beijing airport. I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know my name, but we recognize each other when we see one another. He solves a problem for me, and I appreciate that very much!
To exchange American currency into Chinese currency when I go to China, I like to go to the Bank of China in the Beijing airport. Other money exchange booths charge unwanted fees, and I am sure the Bank of China has the correct exchange rate. The bad thing about using the Bank of China at the airport is you have to wait a long time in line. They do personal banking and business accounts at the bank, so the line can sometimes be quite long. Also, it can be quite hot waiting at the bank in the summer.
My friend in the picture above not only does the transaction right away, but he also doesn’t charge any fees, doesn’t record your passport information, and gives me a slightly better rate than the bank. Additionally, there are no forms to fill out when dealing with him. For the life of me, I don’t know why the bank lets him hang out around their lobby and take clients away from them, but they do. They even let him use their money counter, which sifts through the bills and counts them quickly. All you have to do is give him your American dollars and he will give you Chinese currency. He is must faster than the bank, and that is wonderful when you have a connecting flight.
I always feel safer on the streets in China than I do on the streets of America. To show you how safe it is there, he walks around with a satchel of money and a suitcase full of money. I used him on my last trip, and he even let me take a picture of his “vault!”
Have you ever needed to exchange currencies in a foreign country? Did you find someone as helpful as my airport buddy?