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February 08, 2007
I've spent a lengthy period in China now. It's been 7 months now and I'll be heading back home (for a while) towards the end of the eighth month. In fact, I've spent about a year and a half of the past 5 years in China. I've come to think about it as a second home.
And what will I miss most? The cuisine? The 名胜古迹? The people?
No, I will most miss taxis. Call it an indulgence, but taxis are cheap. Public transportation is cheaper by far, of course. In fact they've just reduced the cost of a standard bus ride on the 东三环 (Third ring road) to less than half a 元 (which is the equivalent to about 3p). You could travel all the way around the road for three pence, a journey of about an hour without traffic. The taxi will cost substantially more. Taxis in Beijing have a standard fare of 10 元 (about 66p) compared with the GBP2.60 as soon as you step into a British cab.
I used a taxi today for about 2 hours, including 10 minutes waiting time, for a grand total of 170 yuan (including tip): about GBP 11.50. That's less than the cost of taking a cab from Warwick to Coventry City Centre and back. In fact that cab ride would probably cost you about GBP15.00.
Ai, back to the good ol' London Undergroun.