Sunday, February 15, 2009

Taxi drivers = I´m in love

While Katja and I were in Dali, China, we though maybe we would do some sightseeing around the lake. There is a medium sized one there. I´m going to guess about 120km in circumference, but I´m probably a little bit off with that number.

So when we arrived in Xiaguan by bus from Kunming, we had to get off and take a taxi to old town, which is really where Dali is. We were approached by the usual lovely taxi drivers trying to rip off foreigners at the bus station, so we avoided them and walked out to the street. Katja grabbed a random cab and he started to drive us the 25km to Dali. This taxi driver seemed like a really nice guy, so we felt a little better.

On the way there, he told us that he would be willing to take us around the lake the next day for about $14. Of course this whole conversation is in Mandarin and Katja is the one conversing. I was just trying to figure out what the conversation was about based on body language and some translations from Katja. He said it would be all day and we would get to see the good spots. Since we already liked the guy but wanted to shop around, we asked him for his business card and told him we´d call him if we needed him. If I didn´t like him I wouldn´t have even responded.

So we get out of the taxi, we crash for the night. We decide to try to be adventurous the next day and travel around the lake or over the lake (by boat) on our own. We woke up in the morning and walked out to the edge of the lake. To our surprise the boat across the lake costs $14 a person. That would be $28 for the 2 of us to cross a lake! Obviously tourist prices and they were looking for suckers who just had way too much money to spend. To put it in perspective, for locals to go on the same boat it would probably cost $1. hehe

So we decided not to go that option, and decided to call the taxi driver from the night before to ask him if we can still do the ride around the lake for $14 total. Katja called, and with only a teeny bit of difficulty told him where we were. He came to pick us up. He was smiling and so were we. We were glad he found us.

So he started driving us to the first spot where he wanted us to see something. It was the house of the founder of Pu-Er tea. I found this place pretty interesting. We paid $8 each to get in there but we got a nice verbal english tour guide who explained things to us.

After that he drove us to the next spot. We didn´t feel like it was worth it to go in, so we asked him to take us to the next location, where again, we didn´t feel like paying the admission price. So we asked him to take us to a place halfway around the lake, because at this point it was already 2pm and we weren´t going to have time to see everything.

Suddenly, he tells us he can´t take us there because there´s a "roadblock" at the top of the lake and no cars can pass. We were puzzled. What roadblock? And why did he say he could take us around the day before?

So after some further questioning by Katja, the taxi driver basically clarified for us that what he meant was not that HE would take us around the lake, but we *could* go around the lake by using the boat to get across the lake, and not by his vehicle. We were like, WHAT?

We were annoyed at this stupid wordplay. So I asked Katja to ask him to show us the roadblock because we would love to see a Yunnan province Chinese roadblock. (we obviously believed he was lying and that there was no roadblock) He suddenly got pretty pissed that we were calling his bluff. That´s when I knew for sure he was a liar. After a bunch of arguing and pissing and moaning on his part, we just agreed to have him take us to the water to see the lake, then to the Kung Fu temple near Dali and then take us back home.

The reason we agreed to that is because it was only $14 to us, and I just didn´t want to have to beat the shit out of a Chinese guy for $14. I just wasn´t up for violence for a couple of dollars. So he did what we had agreed upon and then I paid him the $14 when we exited the cab back in town. I´m sure he wanted tip but I made sure I gave him 0 tip. He certainly wasn´t deserving of it. I probably shouldn´t have even have given him the $14 but again, I just didn´t want to have to beat the shit out of somebody that evening, or get the shit kicked out of me for $14. I´m sure you understand what I mean.

But yeah, I fell in love with that taxi driver after that. I wish I could ask him to marry me but I don´t have his number anymore!


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