I don’t like taxis and try to avoid using them, but there are occasional times when there aren’t a great deal of options. Chengdu Airport is around 12 miles from the city with not pedestrian friendly pavements, so even walking wasn’t an option. Today, there are Metro services to the airport, but back in 2014 there weren’t. There was some form of bus arrangement that I couldn’t make head nor tail of (at the time, there was very little information on-line and the bus service didn’t have a bus stop, so I had no idea how I was supposed to find it), so that left me with the sole option of a taxi.
My initial plan was to get the Ibis hotel to assist in booking a taxi, but they said that the taxi services didn’t operate like that and it would be expensive if they tried. They instead wrote down in Chinese that I wanted to go to the airport and they also wrote the price that they thought I should be charged. I was then told to stand outside in a certain place and local taxi drivers would stop if I waved at them, then I should proffer them my piece of paper. To me, this sounded like a right bloody hassle. But, after reviewing my choices, hassle it had to be.
Anyway, after around 30 seconds of my vaguely waving at some cars, a taxi pulls over. But there’s someone in the front seat (other than the driver) and so I assume that he can’t pick me up. So, I stand there looking confused in my very British way. The driver gets out and ushers me into the car in what, if I’m being honest, looked a grumpy manner. At this stage the driver doesn’t know where I want to go, so I’m confused at his confidence. Although to be fair, I had seen one other European all week, so someone standing with a bag outside a hotel looking for a taxi is quite likely wanting the airport.
So, I’m now in this taxi, wondering how much ransom will be demanded for my safe return, as I’m sure I must be being kidnapped. However, they now know I want the airport as I’ve handed over the paper that the hotel gave me. The driver speaks no English at all, but the other passenger knows about eight words, so he conducts negotiations. Since we’re now trundling along in the taxi, I don’t feel that I have any negotiating strength here if a high price is demanded. Then the passenger asks for my phone, so I assume that I’ve lost that as part of this kidnap. It transpired that he was trying to look at my boarding pass to see which terminal I wanted (there was I think one terminal for domestic and one for international, next to each other, but with separate dropping off points). But, back then, I used printed boarding passes, so I didn’t have one as I was getting it at the airport. So, after five minutes of my wondering what this man was jabbering on about, we had a lovely journey in the car in total silence. Which, to be honest, I quite liked, as conversation was never going to work out.
About two minutes before we arrived at the airport, the passenger in front said “40” (he wasn’t seemingly involved in the taxi operation, but the driver obviously decided he didn’t want to engage with the idiotic English person, so the passenger could do it instead), which is what the hotel said was the maximum fare I should pay. I was firstly moderately irritated that the taxi driver was getting two fares here, but then I quickly realised that I wasn’t being mugged or kidnapped and I was being asked to pay the fare that was reasonable. The photo that I took was one of relief that I’d been dropped off at the airport and I was ready to board my flight.
Then I realised that I had allowed six hours to get to the airport, and I had arrived in twenty minutes, so I was now 5 hours 40 minutes early for my flight. Although, to be fair, this happens a lot….. If I ever go back to Chengdu, I’d be getting the Metro though, thank goodness for improvements in public transportation.