Taking the Taxi Home in China

One of the downfalls of living in here in Guangzhou is that the metros shut down around midnight. A person that wants to go out at night and stay out late will probably have to take the taxi to get home.

A taxi in Guangzhou, China

I decided to hit the club the “Brother I” works at in Panyu. There was really nothing of substance going on there, but it was nice to hit up a spot that wasn’t infested with foreigners, similar to the spots that I’d go to in Xi’an. Unfortunately, unlike in Xi’an, there was really no room to dance, and the patrons did not seems as friendly. I still got a few free drinks and met a few people though. It was still nice to get out, even if I didn’t close at all.

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Seeing that my prospects were limited, that “Brother I” was leaving after his shift, and feeling tired, I decided to leave the club. With no other method of transportation, I had no other choice but to take a taxi. I had it in my mind to stay out and wait until the subways started running again. Personally, I felt that I could handle myself, and would just catch a catnap in a local KFC, maybe the one that I slept in back in 2014 when I ran out of money out here. With my safety in mind, however, “Brother I” insisted that I find a taxi, which according to him should have cost 50 RMB between Panyu and my home in Haizhu.

This was not the case, however. The taxi driver refused to use the meter, and wanted to charge me 100 RMB. The reason behind this is that I am a foreigner, and many Chinese people see foreigners as walking ATMs, including us Black folks at times, despite some of the stereotypes that are out there. Also, as a foreigner, the taxi driver likely assumed that I would be ignorant. I must respect his hustle, as he was likely trying to make some more money for Spring Festival, but I do not appreciate being hustled. After trying to find a different taxi, the same guy came back around, and we settled on 80 RMB. This is not satisfying, but I am safe back in my apartment and able to write this blog post, I guess.

Foreigners will have to be careful when taking taxis, especially after a night out drinking. Here are a few tips that come to mind:

Know Your Destination

Know a few landmarks in the area of your destination. This will allow you to know when you have arrived, possibly save a little bit of money and prevent the driver from going in circles to make more money off of you (if they are using the meter).

Google Maps screenshot of Guangzhou, China
Due to the Great Firewall, you can’t always rely on Google Maps in China

Ask for a Receipt

If you are riding in an official taxi, not one of the illegal ones, then you can ask the driver for a receipt. This receipt, or fapiao (发票) has the taxi’s information on it, so if any articles go missing, you might have a slim chance of tracking the cab down and getting your things back. This is highly important if you are carrying around your passport like you should be if it were to slip out of your pocket.

Learn the Language

Once again, knowing how to speak Mandarin will be helpful when hiring a cab. The ability to communicate makes everything run smoother, including giving a driver directions to get to your destination. If you have knowledge of the language, you will also know how to call out a driver that is trying to take you for a fool.

If I stay out late in Panyu again, I might just use Uber or some other service since they are available in China. Maybe I’ll just sleep in KFC. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the girl will have a car. Maybe…

This post was originally written on February 11th, 2016, Beijing Local Time.