A little advise for China-goers
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Nov 20, 2012 3:27 PM Last Post By: finetrip68
Nov 19, 2012 6:16 AM
A little advise for China-goersI hate to be the one to break everybodys hearts, and be the one who has to be the jerk.
But, being as kind hearted as I am, I just have to put this out there so I can stop trying to help people who dont speak chinese trying to take cabs.
I don't know about anywhere else, but in Beijing, cabdrivers DO NOT understand your LP guidebook maps. I'm sorry to say this LP, but the roads change almost monthly in Beijing, not even they can keep up. Not even just that, a lot of times the map area is too small, and cabbies just can't read it, or its missing critical road names that would lead them there. (for main things, you know, forbidden city, Tiananmen, markets, the birds nest, etc. there is no problem whatsoever)
They also DO NOT understand the little Business card with "123498757 west third ring road southeast" written on it(and a miniature map on the back).
I'm not saying this to be rude, I'm just trying to give you a heads up. Ask someone at your hostel to write down things that a cabdriver would know on a paper, or on the business card(like a subway station, bridge, or intersection). If youre willing, try to learn the chinese for that place, or something famous near that place.
But please, don't make kind-hearted people like myself take time out of my day to argue with the cabdriver for you. Even if you don't vocally ask for help, you pointing at the guidebook and speaking whatever language is screaming for it. If you feel ready to take taxis, go ahead. But public transit is cheap, effective, and well mapped out. Pretty much all busses have english, however broken it is.
Nov 19, 2012 6:58 AM
1You're right, but the same applies to any very large city. Try Tokyo next week. What you need is a big map and then mark the road or place where you want to go. That's how a taxi driver in Beijing will find the way.
"But please, don't make kind-hearted people like myself take time out of my day to argue with the cabdriver for you."
They will learn, sooner or later. You relax yourself while watching, and have a beer if it takes a long time.
Nov 19, 2012 7:26 AM
Not only Asians. That can happen anywhere, even in countries using Latin alphabet. Some people seem to never have had goegraphy lessons at school. They may stare at a map of the city they live in and can't point the place where they are.
Have experienced that several times.
For China, and other countries in that part of Asia, the best way is to have a note with a name of the place written in local lingo.
Nov 19, 2012 8:21 AM
3Asians cannot read map? Not sure about this.
In any case, in Beijing an address is pretty much useless. Have you actually even seen the address sign on a hotel on tourist attraction anywhere? Most buildings in Beijing are big and when I take a taxi I never give him my road address. He would have no clue. Maybe one third actually know my building. So I give them the name of the nearest bridge (overpass) and when they get close I tell the driver where to turn.
If a tourist is going to an attraction the driver will probably know it but will know the Chinese name. By Chinese name I do not mean the name in pinyin (such as TianTan for Temple of Heaven) but rather the name written in Chinese character. I would not expect a taxi driver to also know a hotel. There are somewhere between 4000 and 5000 hotels in Beijing. No driver can know all these places. Better to have the name and address in Chinese character as well as the phone number so that the driver can call for directions.
If you have a smart phone there are some very good applications that you can use so that you only need to show the driver your phone. These include "show and go" and "TaxiBook". But in the end the subway is the best as it takes you everwhere.
Unlike the OP I have not had to help people with taxi, just a poor soul who could not count his Chinese currency to pay at the KFC and, since he did not have enough, wanted to pay in US dollars (that won't work).
Nov 19, 2012 8:35 AM
We had both and that didn't work either. Just recently in Seoul, South Korea.
My wife and I took a taxi from the airport to Ramada hotel. We had booking confirmation with the name of the hotel in Korean, and tel.nr. The taxi driver made a phone call to the hotel to reconfirm the location. ...and somehow he managed to take us to hotel Renaissance.
Nov 19, 2012 11:23 AM
5My opinion about this post is that "Asians" read maps as well as or as bad as any other "group" of people, which I guess means "non-Asians." Taxi drivers in China, and I've traveled all over the country and have taken hundreds of rides, are, if they are not new to the city where you at, excellent at finding both large and small destinations. But to help them, I agree, have it (the name and address) in Chinese characters, and if this is not possible, the general area on a map circled and the pinyin of the tourist sight or hotel or whatever. I'm betting that they can/will then figure it out. If you're arriving in a city, and say going to a hotel or hostel, for example, have the telephone number written down. Per above comments, the driver will call and confirm location/address and even general directions should he still be uncertain. BTW, sometimes drivers will think they've found your destination--so confirm it visually before paying for the taxi ride.
Nov 19, 2012 2:12 PM
6Theres many a taxi driver in Auckland NZ who cant navigate their way from the airport to a suburban address.
But please, don't make kind-hearted people like myself
No one is holding a gun to your head to make you do anything!! But as someone who has had to ask help from a fellow European, I was more a lot more than grateful.
Nov 19, 2012 3:39 PM
Nov 19, 2012 4:45 PM
8Attention: this is not a comparative thread on who reads maps best in the world. We're talking about China, per the thread title. And Chinese don't read maps well (nor in my rather extensive experience, do most other Asians.) Of course there are individuals that do it pretty well, but....they tend not to be cab drivers.
You may have your opinions....but have you actually gone out and field-tested taxi drivers in China with maps? I have in various cities (a quirky little habit I have). My opinion is actually backed up with quite a few experiential data points. Perhaps Estonian, or Ecuadorean, or Egyptian cabbies have the same issue, but that's not this thread.
Nov 19, 2012 9:19 PM
Nov 19, 2012 9:33 PM
10I've found Chinese maps (the Chinese language ones, not the English-language tourist-oriented ones) are actually pretty good. I always pick a local map up in a new city and use it pretty successfully to navigate myself around, especially when walking or figuring out the bus routes. The only problem is the rapid rate of change in cities makes keeping updated with new versions fairly mandatory.
Nov 19, 2012 9:44 PM
Nov 19, 2012 11:06 PM
12We had same problem in New York... not one of the taxi drivers spoke English or Chinese
Nov 20, 2012 3:27 PM
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