Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Taxi Turmoil in Beijing

The Ten Commandments of Taxi Travel in Beijing

1. Thou shall not communicate in English with the Chinese taxi driver. He does not understand “Forbidden City”, no matter how loudly or often it’s repeated.

2. Thou shall not enter a taxi without your destination name AND directions written in Chinese. Plus a phone number, just in case. And possibly a map.

3. Thou shall not tip. I like this commandment.

4. Thou shall not expect to be delivered to the doorstep of your intended destination. You should expect to be close enough the driver can unintelligibly wave you toward an unseen location, causing you to wander around and absorb the local culture for up to twenty minutes. Or possibly take another taxi to your actual destination.

5. Thou shall not be surprised the driver is encased in a plastic barrier separating you from him. Still not sure if it’s to protect him from you or vis-à-vis.

6. Thou shall not cringe and gasp, nor make audible noises of shock and surprise as your driver maniacally turns left into oncoming Beijing traffic. He knows what he’s doing. I hope.

7. Thou shall not try and change large bills. This man, despite what it looks like, is not operating a business. You should preferably have small bills, if not exact change.

8. Thou shall not be concerned if driver drinks tea, talks on cell phone, drives with no hands, bangs on the steering wheel, curses loudly in Mandarin, or any combination while driving

9. Thou shall not react when, parked in traffic, the taxi driver opens the driver door and coughs and spits out half a lung onto the roadway.

10. Thou shall not attempt to flag a taxi in the rain. Due to the record amount of accidents that happen during adverse weather, Beijing taxi drivers will almost never pick up a fare during the first twenty minutes of a rain shower.

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