I just made a profit on a taxi journey.
Following most of the day struggling to find an enormous luxury hotel I've passed every day for a week and then talking them into letting me use their business centre to print off my boarding pass not one but two cabbies decided to try their luck.
There’s a definite different attitude to drivers who ply their trade outside expensive 5 star resorts. The first one claimed not to know what a train station was despite me showing him clearly on my phone. We drove around for ten minutes with him muttering in Mandarin to himself.
"Train station! You know, to Beijing?"
“Ah Beijing!” The chancer’s eyes lit up and he prepared to turn off onto the highway, instantly prepared for a 700 mile journey.
Five minutes later and a disappointed cabbie pulled back into the forecourt of the Shangri-La Hotel.
Cabbie number 2:
This time a concierge told him where I needed to be.
I closed the door and the meter shot upwards instantly. Your first 3km in a Chinese taxi are meant to be 80 yuan then it goes up fairly rapidly. Within two minutes of this journey however the meter read 120! 140! 190!
“Errrm…meter?” I indicated the machine.
The driver ignored me.
I took out my pen and wrote his number down. Pretty stupid trying to con me in a registered cab!
He looked alarmed for a second and then tried a different tactic.
“It’s cold!” He shivered and smiled.
“Yeah, freezing. Meter!”
We pulled into the train station with the meter reading 600 yuan (about £60 for a journey that should cost 80p) I handed him a 20 note and got out and stood on the kerb pretending to make a phone call.
The driver handed me a 100 note and shrugged.
Nice try buddy.
I originally wrote 'Every Han for Himself' for the now closed Travelpod site. In January 2014 I was lucky enough to able to tick off a long held bucket list ambition by visiting both Beijing and the Harbin Ice Festival.
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