Singapore taxi talk

This morning, my taxi driver could only talk about one thing, the Wilson-Plame scandal.

As I got into the taxi, the radio news announcer was finishing the latest story about the scandal, and the driver droned on and on for the next 15 minutes about how rotten things are in America and how this proves the war was waged on false pretenses and Bush is a monster and how could he expose his undercover agents to such danger and…..

This was very unusual. (Most taxi drivers here listen to Chinese pop music, not the news in English.) This guy knew all the names involved! It struck me how short a time it took for this thing to become a full-blown, major scandal that everyone in the world was chattering about.

And the Republicans are now being dragged along, for the scandal has taken on a life of its own. They can’t control it. The most they can do is try to manage how the public perceives it. So far, they are doing a terible job.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

I got to doubt this story since I have never found a taxi driver that could speak ANY english.

Even “causeway bay” or “central” is met with “where??”

October 1, 2003 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Well for one thing, Richard is in Singapore, not Hong Kong. (Of course, if you are in Singapore too, you shouldn’t be too surprised whan a taxi driver doesn’t know where Central or Causeway bay is.)

I’ve been in Hong Kong for nearly seven years now, and I’ve only ever had occasional problems with taxis. (The first was when I’d been in HK about two weeks and, on the way home from a beery session in Wanchai, the taxi driver asked me to navigate the way home to Kowloon Tong. I moved to Wanchai shortly after that.)

Most HK taxi drivers have rudimentary English – If you live somewhere difficult, you should get a card with your address in Chinese on it or learn enough Cantonese to navigate. If the taxi driver has no english, he’ll call his base for someone.

If you have a mobile and a Chinese friend, ring them and get them to translate. This doesn’t work at four in the morning – your Chinese colleagues can’t hear your drunken mumbling over the roar of MahJong pieces, and your wife will probably tell the taxi to dump your body in the harbour.

Or just learn enough Cantonese to direct a taxi: Turn left, Turn right, stop here. (“Stop over there” is more difficult. Point to over there, and when you get there say “stop here”.)


October 1, 2003 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Bongo, you are way off, as David notes — I live in Singapore, where English is the national language and just about everybody speaks it fluently. If I wanted to tell false stories, I could come up with one a lot more interesting than this!

October 2, 2003 @ 12:36 am | Comment

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