Taxi drivers in China are dirt bags . Now, let's be clear. I'm talking about jumping into a car with the word TAXI on it. There's another form of taxi in China that's commonly called a Didi. You can use apps on your phone to order a Didi after putting in your pickup and dropoff locations. Using an app will lock in a price beforehand. But if you get in a "taxi" and have to tell the driver where you want to go it's a horrible experience.
In my year and a half in China I've had the experience of getting into a taxi without first ordering it four times. Each has been awful, and it has nothing to do with communication issues. The job they have incentivizes being a dirt bag, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that's the experience we had last night. Are they bad people? No. I know that. They are stuck in a bad situation.
We arrived at the Pudong airport last night around 10:00 and needed to find a ride to our hotel. I purposefully booked one very close to the airport so we didn't have to take long to get there. After we grabbed our bags we headed to the "taxi" area. It was such a short ride and hailing a car via an app would have taken a while. We get in the taxi line and within a minute we get assigned a car. Load up. Tell him where our hotel is and he's immediately rude to Aiyun. It's such a short ride it's not worth his time. She offers to pay him more and he's still being a doosh.
After we arrive he won't get out of the car to grab my bag from the trunk. I hurt my back and was worried about lifting it out. He wouldn't even open the trunk until he was fully paid. F that. I paid him exactly what it said on the meter and he was still bitching. I walked around the car and opened his door. In my best ugly American I told him to open the trunk. You know, say it louder and he'll get it. Aiyun tells him and he opens the trunk. All this time there's a security guard watching this unfold at the door. The guard is giggling because he probably sees it happen all day long. This hotel is only two miles from the airport.
Last year after returning from Singapore I had another horrible experience at the Hangzhou airport. After getting my bags I'm leaving the baggage area and there's a bunch of taxi drivers looking for east prey, AKA foreigners. One gives me the smile and asks if I need a car. Yeah. Let's go. He grabs one of my bags and we head to his car in the parking area. It felt shady as soon as we got in. He doesn't start the meter. I'm thinking, what gives? I ask and he says 300RMB. Umm, no. I can grab a Didi for 40. He says 150. F this. I made him stop. Took my bags out of his car and walked back to the terminal. All this time he's yelling at me. I wasted his time.
The problem for these "taxi" drivers is everything turns into a negotiation. They are constantly in scam mode. If you don't have a long enough ride they don't want anything to do with you. It's a mess. Lesson learned more than once. I'll never get into a taxi again unless I've already preordered and have a locked in price (taxi drivers can accept the same Didi orders too).
Didi? Awesome sauce.
Taxi? Kill me now.
Contrast this with a society that gets insulted if you ever offer them a tip. Money is a motivator sometimes. Trying to figure that out is a serious challenge for a foreigner. When does greed become acceptable? I try to tell myself it's just different, and the problem is really mine for not understanding, but this is just too weird for me. Taxi? No thanks.