One of my pet peeves while traveling happens to be taxi drivers gouging customers. I understand (especially in China) they are just trying to make a bit of extra kuai, but it still rankles me, especially after a long travel time… say… of 3 1/2 hours to get from Suining to Nanjing or vice versa. Now, the reason I understand the attempts to overcharge the laowei is because taxi drivers in China are on an hourly rate, one customer or twenty, once around the block or out the airport they get the same amount, except when the shut off their meter. Okay, fine, but as I know the rough costs for these trips at least be within viewing range.
5 Yuan for a less than 10 minute ride to the nearest metro station? Pass. (I laughed in his face it was so brazen a question.)
30 Yuan for a ride to the college in a closed three wheel trike which has exactly 2 turns and in a regular taxi would cost 12 Yuan tops? No thanks.
Returning to Suining it is the same sort of story, only at least the cabbies want to give me rides. I know it should be 5 kuai from the bus station to the front gates of Suizhong School, so no I won’t pay you quadruple that.
Sometimes I do things spur of the moment, this guy nattered away in Chinese and we haggled over price and I agreed to pay him 6 RMB for the drive. Then we got to his taxi and it wasn’t a taxi, just a tiny green compact car, but alright, let’s see where this goes.
We loop around the roundabout and if he goes straight he will have to make exactly one left turn to drop me off at the school, instead he crawls along with his head out the window as he tries to hustle up more fares. Amazingly enough he quickly convinces a young girl from Suining in a furry, white, winter jacket to get a lift, the look on her face when she realized this share car came with a laowei the look on her face was priceless. Moments later her smart phone flips to camera and she asks to snap a pic, which, I roll with. Kimchi fingers!
We try to take a self-pic but without the flash it doesn’t work. Amazingly our intrepid cabbie snags a third fare! Some governmental worker, so after some back and forth I take the girl’s phone and have the guy in the front seat snap a picture for her. A little memento for her as I’m sure she’ll show her friends the foreigner she shared a lil green car with.
She was dropped off first and then the government guy and I see what is going on here, the entrepreneur of a driver is using me as bait to try to boost up his revenue. I’m not about to ask for a cut for the 10 extra kuai he made while riding around in the back, or complain about the fact my one right turn trip became a winding tour through the side streets of Suining because at the end of the day I made it back home safely, just a bit later than expected and had a small town mini adventure.
I love the big things of the world, the monuments, the natural wonders but I equally love the small moments that up a life well lived.