Posted by: John Hall | November 20, 2009

Taxi Trauma

I closed the door on my parents cab wondering if I would ever see them again.  I could see a look of concern, confusion and fear in their eyes. (At least I thought I saw it.)  According to the guidebook Shanghai has 15 million people.  If this taxi ride didn’t go well the official bean counters would be able to add two badly confused Canadians to the mix.   I swallowed down my worries and tried to tell myself that they’d be all right, but would they? You see a cab will only take four people in China. I know, I know you’d say, “What about all those stories of crowded buses and trains?” and you’d be right about that, but the taxi is ‘special’, and so when faced with trying to get to an historical site, or market on this extended family trip we had to resort to taking two cabs.

We hadn’t thought this difficulty through before our trip, but improvised this system on the spot. Grabbing our travel book we looked up the site we wanted and hoped that it had the name in Chinese writing. If it didn’t, most likely that site would get a miss. Then, with boldness, my wife would ask the driver of the first cab, with my parents in it, to take them to the place that was indicated. If the driver could read, and if he could see (surprising how often that was a challenge), then we were off to the races. All that was needed next was to flag down a second cab and explain where we wanted to go, again. It never worked. Maybe I shouldn’t say never because it was effective at getting us back to our hotel (if we had the hotel’s card). To clarify, it never worked getting us to an historical site or market. At best we would end up within a block of each other, but many times we were several blocks apart, sometimes arriving as much as twenty minutes apart and once we were only saved by a cell phone call. The most effective solution to this problem that we found was to leave from the hotel, then we would make sure that the concierge got the cabs and told the drivers where to go.

PS: I still have my parents.

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Responses

  1. Brilliant! I could read the Hall adventure stories all day! This is your calling, travel stories!

    Love it,

    Rob


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