Monday, September 16, 2019

Truskavets revisited or The Best Of Wally

In a not so recent Dilbert cartoon, Wally went on an 'in-cubicle sabbatical' and merely recycle old emails which he referred to as The Best of Wally.

I have been busy working on a consulting report and if I take time away from it, it is away from the computer. Writing a decent blog post takes time unless it is personal. So I am recycling a few posts from 10 years ago, hoping no one will notice.

In April 2009, Tanya and I went to the spa town of Truskavets in the Carpathian mountains. Europeans take spas seriously but in Ukraine, it is a religion. In Soviet times people were sent by their employer to Truskavets for three weeks. Since husband and wife usually worked at different places they went separately. Do not think too much about this.

Of course, I could in no way take this whole thing seriously which did not please Tanya at all.  Needless to say, we have never been back. The following is my take on 'taking the waters'. If I could write like this all the time, I could give Diane Henders some competition.

3:10 to Truskavets

Dr. Yuri Grigorovich

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ukrainian Currency

Ukrainian currency is called the Hrivna (Гривна) or UAH. The hryvnia sign is a cursive Ukrainian letter He (г), with a double horizontal stroke (), It floats freely against other currencies. Today it trades at 27.47 to the Euro; 24.95 to the USD and 18.99 per CAD.

I round it off in my mind to 20 UAH/CAD or roughly 5 cents Canadian per hrivna. The National Bank of Ukraine is making changes to the currency itself

Today, there are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 kopecks, and 1 hryvnia and banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 hryvnias. A new 1000 hrivna banknote is being introduced.
July 1, 2018, the National Bank of Ukraine stopped issuing coins with denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 25 kopecks, only denominations of 10 and 50 kopecks will remain.
Since April 2018, banknotes of 1 and 2 hrivnas are no longer printed and are replaced of coins of the same value. Sometime this year, coins of 5 and 10 hrivna value will replace the equivalent banknotes. in my mind, these 4 new coins are equivalent to Canadian 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent pieces. As much as I hate carrying change, I guess I better get used to it. 
The old coins and banknotes will remain legal tender and gradually drop out of circulation.
When I first came to Ukraine in 1997, the Hirvna was about 5 to the dollar (USD or CAD). Some prices have not kept up to inflation. A haircut was $5 and I tipped $5 for a total of $10. Today a haircut is about $2 or $3 and if I try to bring the total up to $10 my hairdresser has a fit.
The reason for the inflation, of course, is the Yanukovich mafia who stole billions, followed by the invasion by our neighbours to the east. The country has stabilized and wages are increasing gradually. Barring a full-scale invasion, the country's economy is faring reasonably well, corruption notwithstanding. 
Some years back, Turkey lopped six '000,000 off their currency. At the time, 1 million TL note was worth about $1 CAD so the new currency was about on par with the Canadian dollar. All the zeros confused me no end and once I thought I tipped a bellhop $1 and actually tipped him 10 cents. He was unhappy but it was all the currency I had at the time.
In those days one had to declare currency brought into Ukraine. I had just come back from Turkey with a wad of bills so I declared 14 million TL. I was immediately sent to the red lane at customs. "How much is that?" "About $14". "Get out of here!" 
A 1000 UAH Banknote worth roughly $50 CAD