Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some thoughts on Taxis in China

The Internet travel business has made travelling simpler. No longer do I need to arrive in a city with no place to stay, as I have done in Mexico City and Tokyo. Expedia now link to some fairly cheap hotels. So I can usually amaze friends and colleagues by staying in some cheap hotel. I have noticed that people start to get nervous about staying in a hotel that costs under 25 pounds a night. However, I still needed to get from the airport to my hotel... I did more preparation for this trip than I normally do. I actually sort of knew the price for the taxi between the hotel and the airport. And yet somehow, I still ended up paying five times as much as I should have done. The flight from Amsterdam to Beijing took about 9 hours and I didn't sleep so well, so I was confused and waylaid by an English speaking unofficial taxi. As the driver turned off the main road down into a grubby alley, I certainly remembered the promise I had made to my mum, not to go off too much on my own while in China. The hotel was actually down the alley (because it was cheap), so thankfully I didn't get murdered. The next time I used a Taxi I got overcharged by 3 times the proper fare. Also, two of the taxi driver's burly friends got in the car as well as we set off with no explanation. When the guy next to me pulled out a 20 Yuan note, I knew he was hitching a ride, so I wouldn't have to elbow him in the head.Now that I live in Scotland I know that the English are an evil race. Somehow this evil gets passed onto to English speaking Taxi drivers. The English language is like an evil virus. The only time I payed the correct amount was in a cab driven by someone who spoke no English. That is my proof of my conjecture, that people who speak English are passing on the original sin, completed. Also, people who are experts in English grammer are always so annoying and patronizing. Perhaps the message is: only use taxis with working meters, if you don't want to spend 90% of the journey time worrying about being hit in the head and robbed. Anyway now that I have got my anti-taxi rant out, we can continue my tale of tourism in the capital of the middle kingdom. The hotel was clean and the staff were friendly. The hotel was close to the main railway station of Beijing. My room overlooked the railway tracks. One night I looked out to see 20 men pulling a locomotive with a rope. Every time they pulled it they shouted. This was passed 11:00 pm.