Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chasing taxis

Originally uploaded by theory27
Soccer may be popular in Chengdu but I've chosen to partake in an alternate sport -- catching taxis. Chengdu is a city of 11 million people spread across 4,783 square miles. Current modes of transportation include: car, taxi, bus, bicycle and foot. Taxi fares are inexpensive and supply of taxis is less than demand. Catching taxis is critical to city survival and can be a team or individual sport. To claim a cab, one must have a good game plan, athletic skill and outright bravery. Please allow me to share my personal strategy.

First, one must recruit her friends to stake out a highly trafficked intersection. Notice the multiple directions of traffic and anticipate the potential, various points of taxi entry. Quickly observe the location of your opponents and distance yourself from them. Be the closest to stand near oncoming traffic. Act as the scout and alarm your friends of the next taxi coming your way. Prepare to run. As soon as the taxi moves toward you and drives up onto the sidewalk, run as fast as you can along side the taxi. Beat your opponents to this position of holding the door handle of the moving vehicle. Your friends will team with you by grabbing the door handle of all other passenger doors. This is important -- you must be the first to grab the door handle of the passenger seat that is empty. You will have as many as 4-6 opponents chasing after the same taxi. As the taxi starts to slow, you must use defensive elbow jab motions and angry grimaces to prevent competitors from squeezing into your position. If an empty seat exists, open the door and GET IN! even though the previous fare has not yet paid and exited the vehicle. While getting into the taxi, use your whole body to block opponents from sneaking into your seat before you. Your friends will do the same. Once in, close the door as soon as possible and direct your driver to your destination using your best attempt at speaking Mandarin or by pointing to a map or business card.

It's not over yet. This is where the bravery comes in. Close one eye and try not to fear the speed and swerving of your driver. It is optional for him to adhere to the one-way arrows. Running red lights is acceptable. If there are three lanes, drivers may decide to create their own fourth lane or simply drive onto sidewalks. If you reach any destination (not necessarily the one you requested) consider this a major team win.


  1. Oh, dear Tamara, thanks for a much needed hearty laugh. BTW, I had a little cat nap on a lovely white leather sofa today. XOXO -Denise

  2. YOW!And I'm not talking basketball here! I am impressed with your prowess, Tamara. Today the taxis, tomorrow the world! Love, Mom

  3. I'm impressed!! Sounds a lot like Guadalajara and even a little like Washington, D.C. Waving down a taxi is a favorite sport of mine!
    Love, Karen

  4. Although, I don't doubt your overall ability to win at the taxi game (your strategy seems sound!), I do question your ability to fire-off malevolent looks at the competition. I guess I will just have to take your word for it....:) All the best, Susan C.

  5. transport? transport? why you stay so long?