Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not Setting the Price

Around town there are real taxis and fake ones. Real ones are red and come with a meter that clocks the fare as you go. Black ones (actually they can be any colour, we just call them black, like the black market) are just any guy driving his own car who is willing to take pity on you and give you a lift where ever you are going.

I use to stay away from the black taxis because I was convinced the driver was going to try to rip me off and charge me way more than a normal fare should be. When I first started being willing to go in fake taxis I would make sure I had negotiated the price before even getting in the car (and trust me they always seemed to call a higher price the minute they noticed my white skin), but the more I travelled with local friends the more I realized none of them did this. They just get in the car, tell the driver the destination, and when they are getting out give him the amount that everyone knows a ride that fare should cost.

I wanted to try it. So I started taking more blacks taxis and just stated my destination as I climbed in. I find that if I just sit there they still end up wanting more money, but if I speak to them in Uyghur and try being all cute and adorable (my friends words not mine) I often get offered the ride for free, or can at least get away with paying less than a regular cab. In fact even when I don't have correct change they will break up my big bill and give me back more money than I expected. This new strategy is not only saving me a lot of money, it is giving me a lot of language practice and keeping me updated on current events (taxi drivers in any culture hear a lot of news and have a lot of gossip to share). The only thing about taking fake cabs is that my marriage proposal rate increases. Taxi drivers are good they can go from "where are you from?" to "will you marry me?" in a ten minute ride or less.

1 comment:

Beth said...

well, when you are so cute and adorable, how can they resist?!