Every expat or foreign student in China has taken a Chinese taxi may times- it is simply soooo cheap! In my home country – Germany – a taxi can cost you a lot of money, depending where you want to go, but here a 40 minutes ride costs you maybe 50 RMB. This money would get me maybe into the next town 2 km away in Germany.
It is also a good option if there are no buses or no subway (because they stop at 11pm or earlier!!). It is simply the most convenient way to get around the city.
On the other hand, taking a taxi is also a lot of trouble. I studied in Jinan, where there is no Subway and catching a Taxi during rush hour is a miracle. Furthermore, communication with the driver is very hard – most taxi drivers do not speak in perfect Mandarin, but speak in some dialect and their pronunciation might also be not the way you are used to from your university.
Nevertheless, if you are able to understand, even a little bit, taxi drivers simply looooooooove to talk to foreigners. Mostly, they ask you the basics like:
“Where are you from?” – Germany – oh! This is a German car brand!/ Oh, they play football well!
“Do you have a boyfriend?” – No – Oh! Why not?/ You should find a Chinese boyfriend – I don’t know, maybe I am too ugly?
And so on.
But sometimes, you get really funny questions and topics.
My personal highlight was when a taxi driver asked me whether German/European men are hairy. I answered him, that depended on the man, but generally they are hairier than Chinese men. To this declaration he simply said: “I don’t like hairy men”. Note that he himself was a men, I never thought about him liking hairy or not hairy men at all.
Another fun conversation was when I shared a taxi with my friends from Uganda and the driver asked them how hot it got in Uganda. To their answer that the temperature was ranging from 25 to 30 degrees he seemed disappointed and confused. His follow-up question was: “So, how can you be so dark skinned then?!”.
These are my experiences, but I think everyone has his/her own story to tell and we would love to hear them!!