Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Adventure Taxi rides in Chengdu

Last night Greg & took a taxi to a different area of Chengdu for dinner and then back to our guesthouse.   Sounds pretty straightforward right?  Um, actually No!  Taxi rides in Asia are totally underrated as an adventure travel activity, IMO ;-).  Here is how our sweet ride went:

Hail the taxi.  Show driver the restaurant name and address which we have written down in Chinese characters.  He nods (indicating he knows where it is, we think) and off we go.

After only a few minutes, driver pulls over to side of road, gets out, and goes into a store.  Hmm.  He comes back out with a package of cigarettes.   Ok, no problem, now we understand. 

We drive for quite awhile.  Driver starts to go very slow and squint at streetsigns.  At an intersection he gestures to us to ask which way to go.  I have no idea where we are or how to get where we’re going so I just repeat the address in Chinese.  He turns right, then changes his mind and does a u-turn.

Driver stops, rolls down window, and asks a street sweeper for directions.  Sweeper gestures with broom to indicate the direction in which to drive. 

We drive one more block and pull over again.  Driver exits the car and has a discussion with a security guard that includes lots of pointing.  

After a few more blocks and a few more turns we pull over again and driver asks yet another street sweeper for directions.  This sweeper uses his broom to draw an imaginary map on the ground.  I think this is a good sign… 

My hopes are shortlived because after another block or two we pull over again.  Driver exits the car and asks a pedestrian for directions.  At this point I think that Greg and I offered to just get out of the taxi and try to find the street by walking around.  

We drive again for a few blocks, but this time we find the right street!  Driver turns right, then yells out the window at another pedestrian who points behind us, so we do a u-turn and a minute later arrive at the restaurant! 

I have to give our taxi driver props because even though he didn’t know where the place was, he was resourceful and persistent in getting us to the right spot and didn’t just shrug his shoulders and drop us off in the middle of nowhere (which has happened on other occasions).

The taxi ride home was not quite as exciting, except for the 8 times that our driver drove in the lane of oncoming traffic in order to pass other cars.  One of the times he did this it was to pass cars that were stopped because they were waiting at the red light directly ahead of us.  Sweet.

Advertisements

August 13, 2007 - Posted by | Chengdu, China, Travel, Urban

3 Comments »

  1. FYI – if you Google “Francie & Greg”, this is the first link that shows up 🙂

    Comment by paul | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  2. Don’t they have the same system for experienced taxi drivers as in for ex. Shanghai? With golden stars at their drivng licence which rate how well they know the city? Three stars -he know every little conrner, no star -you should be happy he understand your in written note in chinese on where you want to go.

    Comment by Ragna | August 14, 2007 | Reply

  3. Jill and i had similar experiences in India – the cities are so big, the corners so maze like, and the maps so poor, that drivers just get to the neighborhood and then start asking around. It was same in Moscow. I guess we’re just spoiled in the states 🙂

    Comment by Scott Berkun | August 16, 2007 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: