Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taxi! Taxi!

My luck with taxis on this trip so far, in a word, sucks. I get car sick easily and if the driving is a little erratic I get even more sick to my stomach. I don't take cabs in Seattle and usually do the driving or sit in the front seat to avoid this but I have spent a good amount of time in the back seat of cabs on this trip. I have been chewing loads of Pepto pills since I got here and am about to run out. If you love me you will send me a care package, pronto.

My last day in Seoul I worked during the day and then met up with 4 of Dave's cousin's for dinner. Yunsuek, Eddie, Cory and Hanna. We ate dinner, went to a coffee shop afterwards and just chatted. While we were talking I found out that there was a night market where you could shop until 4a.m. Sweet! So I decided to go and Hanna offered to come with me. Oh my gosh, that was such fun!

We went to Dongdaemun and after spending 15 minutes trying to figure out how to cross the street (there is an underground tunnel) we entered a department store building that has 6 floors. Every floor is specific to what is being sold. We spent most of our time on the accessories floor and the children's clothing floor. There are a bunch of booth style sections where people sell their goods. You usually want to try and negotiate them down, especially if you buy multiple items. Luckily, Hanna's mom taught her well and she helped me make some good deals (not counting the one guy we were buying baby socks from who basically laughed in our faces.)

After we finished shopping (Sabrina made out like a bandit, by the way) we caught a cab to my hotel. It was 2:14 a.m. On our way to my hotel I started to notice that our driver was swerving and weaving a bit. I've noticed that most drivers in Korea drive with a bit of wild abandon but I didn't see a single accident. However, we were honked at a couple of times which is what caught my attention. I glanced into the rear view mirror and realized that the cab driver WAS FALLING ASLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!

I looked at Hanna and said slowly,

"Soooooo, I think our cab driver is falling asleep."

She gave me a wild eyed, kind of freaked out look.

I looked in the mirror again and said,

"Yeah...he's nodding off."

I think/hope I said it calmly but was freaking out inside.

I know what you're thinking - why didn't I just get out of the cab? Well, by the time I realized this we were out of the very populated area and I didn't see any cabs around us. Just a bunch of cars. And remember, it's 2 a.m.

I said to Hanna,

"Talk to him, talk to him."

I meant "talk" as in engage him in conversation to keep him awake. Hanna turns towards him and says in Korean,

"Are you falling asleep?!?!"

I think we both were a little unsure what to do because our driver was a man who was at least 70 years old. We can't scold an older person, that would be like yelling at your grandfather! So instead, we started to bad mouth his obviously ungrateful children who were not fulfilling their duty of taking care of their father in his old age. Damn kids!
Mom & Dad, you have nothing to worry about. Pinky promise.

So, we managed to get to the hotel and Hanna got out and we called her another cab from the hotel.

Now for cab #2 story. I left Seoul and arrived in Hong Kong around 11 p.m. I took a cab from the Kowloon train station to my hotel.

Before I talk about this cab, let's digress for a moment. I want to help set the scene so that I really get your sympathy/empathy.

You remember back in the day when you could smoke indoors? And when you went out dancing or to the pubs with your friends you just knew that you were going to smell like an ashtray when you got home? And even though you just wanted to pass out in your bed upon arrival, the smell of your hair and clothes force you to jump into the shower in your drunken stupor to get that God-awful smell out of your hair and skin? Yeah...those were the DAYS!

Back to Cab #2 (aka Hong Kong cab #1). I get into the cab and it was like stepping back into my clubbing days all over again. The cab driver obviously smoked in his cab with the windows rolled up and the recirculating AC air. So even though it is something like 130% humidity out here I had to open a window and hang my head out to breathe. Even though I smoked years ago, for some reason since I quit cigarette smoke gives me a headache almost instantly. I think he also ate his food in his cab too because there was also the smell of beef noodle soup in the air. Why do I think it was beef noodle soup, you ask? Good question! Not sure why, but it smelled like old meat and there was just something that made me think "Beef noodle soup".

To add to the "cigarette smoke/beef noodle soup eau de toilette" aroma the driver drove his little car like a madman. He would speed up really fast and then practically brake to a complete stop to make a turn and slam his brakes repeatedly when approaching a light. I'm sure I was turning green with motion sickness within the first few kilometers.

We made it to my hotel and I do have to give my first Hong Kong cab driver some props though. Holla! The meter said the fare was $490 HKD. This seemed awfully high ($7.8 HKD = $1 USD) but what could I do? So I handed him a $500 HKD bill and his eyes got really big when he realized I thought the fare was $490. He shook his head and looked at the bills in my hand and grabbed a $50 bill. Apparently the fare was $49, not $490. He totally could have given himself a big fat tip but didn't. Thank you for not ripping me off, Mr. Cab Driver!!!!

Please send me good taxi cab vibes for the next few days I'm in Hong Kong. I will have to take a few a day and will need your good mojo.

I have a week full of work ahead of me but will definitely be back to tell you more stories. I've been getting a lot of good material for a post on Asian hair cuts/hairdo's. I want to get some photos first. Seriously, you'll die. Till then ~ Ciao!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

aww, Maria, I miss you soooo much!
Besides the taxi, I hope you're having a great trip.
When am I going to meet that adorable Sabrina!??
Love you!