There’s a lot to like about Beijing, but their taxi drivers aren’t among them. Now I grant you I’ve had a few nice taxi drivers in my trips to Beijing, but I’ve also had horrid ones. The new trick is that a taxi will stop when you flag it down, but will keep his door shut not letting you get in until he’s found out where you’re going and decided if you’ll allow him to not use his meter so that he can Shanghai you (“Beijing you” should be the new term.) After a long day waiting an hour in an unnecessarily disorganized ticket line and then walking through the magnificent Forbidden City, my companions who were over 65 (one of whom had the extra weight of a cast on her arm) needed a cab back to the hotel.
We didn’t want to go on a crowded bus so we walked to the corner past the Forbidden City and tried to get a cab. The few that stopped asked us where we were going. None, until the last one, would let us in the cab. We weren’t that far away so we weren’t desirable rides. If we’d gotten a cab at our starting point, it’d been about 25 yuan more or less.
After each rejection, I took a photo of the license plate of the offending cabbie. I’m ready to write my complaint letter. I just need to know where to send it.
On our last attempt we were able to get into the cab. I naively thought that would give us the edge we needed. Take us here with the meter. The jerk never gave in. We sat and sat. He had no cab identification whatsoever. I did take his photo for what that’s worth.
There were Chinese people who were trying to get cabs and after a conversation, outside the cab, were left on the curb. So it’s not just foreigners who’re seen as marks.
We wound up walking a while then stopping, flagging a cab and trying to convince the driver to use the meter as he’s supposed to. They all wanted over $12 for a ride that should cost $3. None of us were so tired that we were willing to be cheated on that scale. In the end we found ourselves at The Grand Hotel. We stopped for a drink and then the bell boy got us a cab. The fare was 14 yuan. A big difference. The moral of the story is use public transportation and get a hotel near the sights.