Thursday, February 15, 2007

He's a Taxi, She's a Taxi ....

I'm a taxi, wouldn't you like to be a taxi (pepper) too?

There are basically 2 types of cars in Ulaan Baator: nice, big 4-wheel drive hulks and ... unofficial taxis. Ok, there 3 types, because there are real taxis too.

Driving is on the right hand side here in Mongolia - like the States - but plenty of cars are left hand drive. And my commute between hotel and work has become one of riding in many types of cars. Like many locals, when I want to go somewhere, I don't bother phoning for a cab, I just stand on the road side with my arm extended down at about 45 degrees and wait for a car to pull over. They often reset their odometer to measure the ride. I only take them around the city so I know there can't be a fare over 1500 Mongolian Tugriks ($US 1.30), and I try to overpay just a bit and leave a little extra money in Mongolia.

Usually it is a man driving around by himself looking for fares and they rarely pick up someone extra once they have a fare, but yesterday I got in a car with another passenger and today, coming 'home' from work, a young woman 'picked me up'.

I've driven in a lot of places and anyone who has been in Egypt knows about wacko driving, but here is the most aggressive driving towards pedestrians I've ever seen, and last week was the absolute worst taxi ride I ever had in my life - 6 minutes of jerking and screeching in the normally straight road to my hotel. Not a great story but that was the last time I got into a real taxi.

Some others on the bottom of the food chain are the maids in the hotel, so they are very appreciative of their 90 cents tip/day and my room never wants for any supplies.

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