Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Black-Market Taxi Ride

I took a taxi to my hotel from the Rabbi’s house. I have a little red piece of paper with instruction to the cab driver in Chinese telling him what hotel I was staying at, and where it was. Minutes after I got into the cab, I knew that I was in trouble.

I read in the Frommer’s guidebook to Beijing that cab drivers are required by law to keep their meters in clear sight of the passenger. Also, they are also required to prominently display their licenses. A minute after getting into the cab after a day of feeling weak and ill, the taxi driver stopped the car, turned to me, and spoke to me in Chinese. I could see in his eyes that he was dishonest. Without thinking, I said to him “wa boh huey shwa Poh Tong Wa,” which means “I don’t speak Mandarin”. I was thinking that I should have kept my mouth shut.

He resumed driving and immediately upon looking, I saw that his meter was on the floor and the numbers were partially covered by a cloth, which meant that this driver was dishonest. I looked at the dashboard and I noticed that there was no license displayed, and I realized that I was in a black-market taxi cab. These cabs are driven by unlicensed drivers, and are known for cheating customers from driving around in circles and taking the most expensive route, the Fourth Ring Road, the largest road which circled the city of Beijing and racked up the mileage so they could charge more.

Knowing that I was about to be cheated, I could do nothing except pray that it wouldn’t be by too much, and that I would be safe. I chuckled to myself when I saw him turn off of the highway and exit onto the Fourth Ring Road. “Here we go, I'm about to be taken for a ride. It’s only money,” I thought. I was happy when I got back to the hotel in one piece.

1 comment:

Rowan said...

How much did this lesson cost you? Just curious.