Messed up Hong Kong money

So naturally, upon arrival, we needed to get some money out so we could, well, do anything. The bank machine (from the Bank of China) set the minimum amount of HK$500 (a little less than CDN$100). Imagine my surprise when, on the $500 bill, there reads:

Promises to pay to the bearer
on demand at its office in Hong Kong
By order of the Board of Directors

A HK$500 bill

I wasn’t even sure if this was real money, or some kooky promisory note! (Turns out, it’s real…)

A HK$100 bill

But imagine my FURTHER surprise when I look at the goofy set of $20 bills. Under most countries, the paper currency is issued only by the central bank, e.g. the United States Mint, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, and so forth. But here in Hong Kong, it seems just about anyone can do it. So far, I’ve got five different $20 from three different banks: Bank of China, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank.

An array of HK$20 bills

This place is messed, man…