Earlier this week, a taxi driver here in Shanghai was chatting with my wife, and told her he skipped picking up foreign passengers when he could, unless they were obviously tourists -- as much as possible he avoided foreign residents. He says many/most other drivers do the same.
She asked why, and he explained that foreign residents usually had very poor Mandarin pronunciation, so it is difficult to understand them when they try to say where they want to go. And then, they typically have very short tempers, and when the cab goes to the wrong place -- remember their destination and instructions are practically incomprehensible in the first place -- the foreign residents refuse to pay. So much for Better City, Better Living
I don't seem to have a big problem problem flagging down cabs, but then, from a distance (in a moving vehicle) I probably pass for a Chinese person to many drivers; I'm Filipino. That same driver told her that one time, he passed by a white passenger in favor of who he thought was a local passenger, but who turned out to be Japanese. When the Japanese passenger asked why the driver skipped the other foreigner, the driver replied, "I couldn't tell you were Japanese"
On the flip side, last night, a friend visiting Shanghai for the World Expo asked me for examples of frustrating moments living here. I had been talking about how living in Shanghai makes one absolutely love living in Taipei (like this thread
), because any inconveniences you may experience living in Taipei seem to be magnified living here. Taxi stories are popular ones with me and my foreign friends here. Lately, I don't find the taxi drivers I ride with as aggravating as when I first got here -- but this is probably because I take the subway and buses as often as I can, and my pronunciation for the few places I regular take a taxi to has improved over the years. I have also developed simple instructions for how to get home -- my Mandarin may make me sound like a 6-year old girl, but hey, it works! I guess I am not surprised that the door swings both ways between how foreign residents and taxi drivers feel about each other, but I still find it interesting that for some of these guys, we are just as annoying as they are to us.Any tips you can share about taxis in Shanghai?
At the Portman, skip the double-queue managed by the hotel, and wait for the cab on the side walk where the driveway exits. They should move the queue there, but it's too far from the hotel entrance. The design of the large 3-lane driveway at the Portman means that cabs on the far lane are often skipped by the queue bellman, so leave the complex without any passengers. Standing at the exit of the driveway not only positions you to be seen by all taxis that arrive at the building, it puts you first in your "own" line. I can almost guarantee you will wait no more than 5 minutes... in the rain, no less.
Worst place to get a cab: Changle Lu at Maoming or Shanxi South Roads, behind the Okura Garden Hotel. Too much passenger competition on major destination roads nearby, like Huai Hai Lu. You are really better off hoofing it to the Line 1 or Line 9 subway stations on Huai Hai