Monday, February 11, 2008

So Close, Yet So Far


Last night my friend and I had dinner at one of my favourite Shanghainese restaurants Ding Tai Fung.

They have a few locations in Shanghai and the one we went to is in a giant mall appropriately called Super Brand Mall (Zheng Da Guang Chang) in Pudong, right by the Pearl TV Tower.

And after dinner we were hoping to have a drink at the Grand Hyatt in the Jin Mao Tower, currently the tallest building in the city. We wanted to have drinks up at Cloud Nine, a bar on the 58th floor.

But we and many other people had the hardest time trying flag down a taxi outside, which is basically a giant roundabout.

Either people ahead of us managed to catch one, or someone just happened to get out of one.

We had to stand closer to the road in order for the taxi drivers to see us, but that was perilous with buses and cars that could easily run us down if we didn't get out of the way.

There was no orderly system for taxis to come pick up passengers and it was a total free-for-all.

And then there was one taxi driver, who rolled down his window and demanded people tell him their destination. He didn't like ours (a very short cab ride away) and drove off complaining he wouldn't make much money.

He did that to many other people. They had to run behind him to catch up and he obviously didn't like where they wanted to go either because he kept circling the area, taunting would-be customers when he could have done maybe two of three tips ferrying people from the mall.

It was ridiculous that so many of us were trying to catch a cab around 9pm and yet no taxis available.

So in the end we decided to walk to the hotel. But when we were half way there, we encountered a giant highway and there was no path for pedestrians. So we thought we'd walk through the subway, but the exit to the Jin Mao Tower was blocked as an HSBC building is being constructed in the area.

We had to walk all the way around again, a longer way until we finally reached the hotel. It was a nice walk, but very annoying there wasn't enough signage to explain to people how to get there by foot.

It's probably a way to keep the riff raff out, but for people like us who couldn't flag a cab in the first place, it was a frustrating experience to say the least.

Then by the time we got there, it was past 8pm so we would have to pay 120 RMB each as a minimum charge. In the end we decided a massage was more important and skipped the drinks altogether.

With the construction going on for at least another year, it will be an annoying experience for others who just want to have a taste of the high life at the Grand Hyatt. I wonder if they'll notice a drop in the clientele due to greedy taxi drivers and not many wanting to plod a long way to the hotel.

1 comment:

ks said...

i had a similar experience in paris when i was touring with my mother in 1989. the old lady was tired and having pain in her feet caused by calluses. we had a hard time flagging down a taxi round the arc de triomph and champ d'elliysee area. in b.c. we are now having a new legislation declaring the rights of the taxi driver and passengers. in your case if it happens in b.c. you may jot down the taxi number and report to the authority. but i dont know how well this can be policed as it is difficult to document what happened.