Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Taxi This!

Chengdu taxis are a bit frustrating at the best of times. Far more than Beijing or Xi'an the drivers seem to need help to find address on major streets. Today was a highlight even so.

I walked down to get a cab and was very happy to see an open one just up the street heading towards me. Perhaps no need to cross the intersection of doom (homicidal hordes of bikes, trikes, cars, and buses) today! My cabbie saw me, flashed the lights, and pulled over. I got in and we proceeded across the intersection ... and were promptly flagged down by a police officer!! The cabbie and the officer debated for a few moments and then he took some stuff from my driver and wandered off across the intersection. WTF!

My cabbie hopped out and chased him. WTF!

The car was left unlocked and full of the taxi drivers possessions. It was unclear if I was intended to wait but I felt it likely the car would be robbed if I got out and flagged another driver so I decided to wait up to 15 minutes. WTF!

The driver followed the cop across the intersection once more, putting them on the opposite corner from me. They appeared to be talking still so perhaps there was hope. After some ten minutes the driver got her papers plus one more (fine?) from the cop and came back to the car. The paper from the cop, which looked very much like a ticket, was waved at me while chattering about something in Mandarin. I said I didn't understand in Mandarin and it seemed like the driver understood momentarily and then decided it didn't really matter and resumed babbling.

I figured the mornings excitement was over but for bonus points she decided to drop me off at a different (to her credit the name was at least similar) street than I asked for. And when I say I asked I mean I showed it written in Chinese characters so this wasn't just mispronunciation on my part. Waving the address around and protesting finally managed to get it through that this wasn't good enough so we drove off slowly and the driver finally resorted to asking someone on the street where the address was. Every other driver either calls home base (most often) or uses a GPS (rare) when they cannot find something (shockingly common).

-- Rod

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