Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Beijing Taxi Guide

Yesterday, I bought a Beijing taxi guide, a nifty little booklet that I can carry in my purse and use to show cabbies where, in both English and Chinese, I want to go in this vast city.

But there's an additional entertainment value in the guide in the phrases it suggests you might need to say to taxi drivers. In fact, these phrases can reveal everything you need to know about life in the Big Gray.

* Do you know this place? (okay, that makes sense)
* Are you absolutely sure?
* Use the meter
* Is this the slowest traffic light in Beijing? (okay, so now we're making chitchat?)
* I know your way is fine, but please take my way (sensing the oncoming confrontation)
* Where are we going?
* What a traffic jam!
* Where is the seatbelt? (here some nervousness is creeping in, although asking for a seatbelt is a sure sign of a newcomer)
* Could you turn on the heater? (again, that's a good one)
* Please, do you mind not smoking?
* Please ask someone for directions
* Do you have change?
* All I have is a hundred
* If you don't have change, that is your problem, not mine

And the day continues to fall apart:
* It's not permitted to drive this way
* We can't take a right here (another sign of a newcomer)

And the last three "useful phrases:"
* There is a cop!
* Traffic jam!
* accident

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