All 2 entries tagged Observation

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February 08, 2007

What I'll probably miss most about Beijing: Cheap Taxis

BJ CabI'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.


December 03, 2006

Chinese Queues

You’ll have to forgive the terrible and rather obscure historical pun in the title, but this is one thing I can’t get used to in China and it’s irking me more and more as time goes by.

Without wanting to be too much of an Orientalist… Chinese people (well at least those in Beijing) just don’t queue very well. I hate it. I love China but I hate the lack of queues. I can’t think of anything that has pissed me off more here than watching fairly well-off and educated people crowding literally a milimetre in front of an elevator door without bothering to leave any room for folks who might want to get off. Then when the doors do open and people are trying to get off, they swarm in and it becomes a tussle to get out of the fricking elevator. And, naturally, this leads to stupid situations where you have a fairly full elevator where the person who’s getting out on floor three is at the back of the elevator because he/she rushed in first, while the person getting out on floor nineteen is practically up against the door because he has a modicum of politeness.

It goes for queues in shops without a ridgid till system. I was at McDonald’s for the first time in China the other day on a Friday night (we’re talking about 12.30 am here) and trying to form an orderly queue was nearly impossible. People would come in, waltz up to the front of the queue and begin edging their way in until they got to give their order. It also happens in any local shops you might go to. It drives me insane.

So I’m loving China. Not loving the lack of queues at the moment (and for some reason women seem to be the worst culprits). Next-up – I’ll be whinging about a 30:1 shop-assistant-to-customer ratio in various Chinese malls.


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