Tag Archives: taxi

What the?!? Oh, Thailand…

You know how you can do something all the time, but not really pay attention? I’ve ridden in my fair share of Thai taxis, especially to and from the hospital this past month, but most of the time I’m riding alone, so I break out my iPad and read my current book, not really paying much attention to my surroundings or the taxi itself. Well, this taxi ride was different.

Linner just came to visit me, and we took a taxi downtown for a staycation in a swanky hotel in the center of Bangkok. On the ride down, we were busy chatting and catching up on life. While I was listening to Linner, something on the window of the taxi caught my eye and I couldn’t help but stare. What I saw was a series of images on the window, only they were backwards since I was seeing them from inside the taxi. My eyes squinted as I tried to make sense of the string of DO NOT DO THIS images. Linner realized my eyes were no longer making eye contact, and she, too, turned to look at these images.

OK, so the no smoking one makes sense. Most taxis don’t allow that. The next one may be confusing for those of you who don’t live in Southeast Asia, but that image of a spiky fruit is actually durian, an ultra-smelly fruit that smells like rotting flesh. So, yeah…no durian completely makes sense. Who would want that in their taxicab? No alcohol…okay. No dogs, fair enough. Wait…what’s the next picture?!? No sex in the taxi?? Really? We go from no smoking, durian, alcohol, and dogs to no sex. Well that escalated quickly! Next, no rifles or long knives (or swords?). I don’t know that we need that sign…probably self-explanatory, but yeah, I agree those are not okay in a taxi. The last one stumped us…no horned animals?? Is that a goat? Who prompted this to have to be made into an image of something not to bring into the taxi? Like, is this an issue? Surely it happened, but how many times? Once? Or is this a recurring issue with the locals? I’m so confused…

After our rousing conversation about the list of what not to do stickers, Linner realized I had a set behind me, which prompted even more inquiries.

I’m all for the protection of women, so I appreciate that you cannot grab a women’s breast or bottom in the taxi, but did we need such graphic images to depict that one? Okay the next one is so confusing. Is it trying to say women can’t fart music? And why is this something strictly prohibited for women? I say if women can’t do it, men shouldn’t be allowed to fart music either. And again…do we really need to see her nipple to get that it’s a woman? And who farts music? I’d like to meet these talented ass people (pun intended)! Alright, so in addition to no rifles…no handguns either. In case you were unsure before, apparently no guns are allowed. No hand grenades either. Wait…what? Who has brought a hand grenade into a taxi before?!? I love the image of the next one. I get it…no stealing, but the image of a burglar with a bag of loot over his shoulder is a bit over the top, don’tcha think? Alright, stop. Just stop it. Really? No women with men on leashes?? Why is this a thing? And is it only women who put men on leashes and bring them into public and go for a ride around the city in a taxi? No men do it to women? I have never once in my life seen anyone put another adult on a leash. Kids, yeah…in IKEA especially…but adults?? Again, why is there a need for this warning? Is this a rampant problem in Thailand? The last one I’m assuming means no bare feet in the taxi, which makes sense. We should keep our shoes on. But…why the heck are the feet positioned that way? That’s totally not the way their feet would be, that is unless two people were in the taxi and one was sitting down with their feet spread out while their friend was standing, with their feet pointed toward the seat.

Oh, Thailand…you amuse and confuse me sometimes…thanks for the laughs!

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Taking the Scenic Route- SOL #18

SOLS button 2013

 

Living abroad has it’s challenges. Living in a country where you don’t (really) speak the language is one of those challenges. Taxis are another.

Tonight, after having a quiet dinner by myself at Pizza Marzano where I was able to indulge in all-you-can-drink sweet tea and a goat cheese salad while getting some much needed work done, I decided to take a taxi home. I could have walked. The mall where I was isn’t not too far from my apartment. It was (finally) a nice night in terms of the weather. But I chose to taxi instead because I needed to get home quickly. I had a slice to write. And more importantly, I had to pee! All-you-can-drink sweet tea can do that to you, you know? I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I just use the bathroom at the mall before I left? Have you seen a Chinese bathroom lately? I rest my case.

Anyhow, I make my way to the taxi queue and I’m pleasantly surprised that there is no line and a few green light taxis are eagerly awaiting passengers. I hop into a “dead red” (as my friend Quinne called them) taxi. This should have been a sign that I was in for an interesting night.

“Ni qu nali?” the taxi driver asked. (Where are you going?)

“Ni hao. Wo qu Xinhua Lu, Dingxi Lu,” I reply. (Hello. I’m going to Xinhua Road and Dingxi Road.)

We pull out onto the road and are forced to make a right. The quickest way home is to make a left, but the recently added barricade makes that impossible. Ok, I think. No biggie. He’ll just make a right and go around the block. I know my way home (finally) after living here nearly three years. As we approach the light, I realize we’re in the straight-only lane.

“Uh…shifu…Xinhua Lu?” (Uh…master(That’s what we call taxi drivers here. I know, it’s strange.) Xinhua Lu?)

“Wo zhi dao. Wo zhi dao.” (I know. I know.)

“Bu yao yi zhi zou. XINHUA LU,” I say in a sure of myself tone of voice. (I don’t want to go straight. XINHUA Road.)

“Wo qu Panyu Lu. Panyu Lu you guai. Xinhua Lu zou guai,” my taxi driver replies. I detect a smugness in his voice. (I’m going to Panyu Road. Turn right on Panyu Road. Turn left on Xinhua Road.)

“Zheli you guai,” I command, knowing that if he turns right on Hong Qiao Lu I can direct him to my house. He isn’t the best listener, so he continues straight ahead. (Turn right here.)

Fine, I think to myself. I know that Panyu Lu crosses Xinhua Lu, so we’ll just go a little out of the way, but I’ll still be home relatively soon.

We keep driving. No sign of Panyu Lu. “You really have no idea where you’re going do you? I told you this was the wrong way. Now I’m going to have to pay a lot more money AND I still have to pee!” I grumble in English. I know he can’t understand me, but he gets my tone of voice. He knows I’m irritated. He grumbles something back in Chinese that I don’t understand.

“Bu hao!” (Bad!) I say to him, which is the only way I know to express my disgust with his lack of direction. We are now at Ikea, which is in the completely opposite direction from my house. Feeling my frustration radiating from the back seat, he turns off the meter. He knows he went the wrong way. Assuming the “I’m lost, so I’m going to put my hands at ten and two and sit up straighter” position, we begin taking the scenic route to my apartment. I got to see parts of Shanghai I haven’t ever seen before. On a normal day, I’d be excited by the spontaneous tour of the city, but my bladder was not a happy camper.

Once he got on the Yan’an Elevated Road, I thought “How far out of the way did he take me?!?” “How much longer? How much longer?” kept replaying in my head. As we approached the exit for Xinhua Lu, I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost home.

As we neared the corner, I said, “Ting zai zheli.” (Stop here.)

After handing over the money for the ride (14 kuai since he stopped the meter), he turns to me and, with a toothless grin, says “Dui bu qi. Solly! Solly!” How could I be mad at that?!? (Sorry in Chinese and then an attempt to say it in English.)

Taking the change, I smile and reply, “Mei guanxi.” (No worries.)

The Importance of Place Value- SOL

We had received a warning prior to coming to Seoul to avoid taxis whenever possible because they were really expensive. With that in mind, we’d resolved to getting around on foot or by bus or metro. After walking all day, we were tired and cold and just wanted to get back to our hotel. Once we finished dinner, we decided that just this once we’d take a cab. Linnea rode in the front so she could give directions, and I rode in back. We arrived at our destination in about ten minutes.

“How much is it?” I asked. No response. Linnea didn’t seem to hear me, so I craned my neck to look at the meter. I saw a 37, but couldn’t see the rest. Since most of what we’ve bought was in the thousands, I assumed it was 37,000 Won. Quickly converting the amount into USD, I realized that our ten minute cab ride had cost us about 34 dollars!
Handing Linnea 20,000 Won, my share of the fare, I said, “Wow, that was SO expensive! Way more than I had expected!”
“I know. The meter started really high.”
“How much was it when we got in?” I questioned.
“I’ll tell you later,” she replied, which I took as a cue to be quiet about it since she didn’t want to talk about it while we were in the cab. After exiting the taxi, I asked again about where the meter started. “It started at 2,400,” Linnea told me.
“How the heck did it reach 37,000?!?”
“Jennifer, it was 3,700. That’s a little expensive, but not that bad.” “Really? But I paid 20,000. Where’s the change?”
“Oh no, we only got a few coins back. I only paid 2,000. I’m sorry. I just assumed you’d given me 2,000. I didn’t check it; I just handed it over. I felt like he was rushing me to get out,” Linnea said with a sympathetic look.
“Of course he was rushing us out. He just got the biggest tip ever!” “The money here all looks the same. I’m sorry.”
“Its fine. It’s not your fault,” I grumble, “I should have been more careful. I couldn’t see the zeroes and just assumed it was thousands. Next time, we’re going to take our time and make sure we give the right amount.”

In the grand scheme of things, paying an extra 20 dollars isn’t that big of a deal, but at the time, it’s a real bummer!