Add One More City to the Seven Worst Places to Hail a Taxi Cab
I n this list of the seven worst places to hail a taxi cab — which includes Dubai, Shanghai, Bangkok and Istanbul — compiled by Alexander Bachuwa of The Points of Life, I recommend that Manila be added to the list.
“Getting taken by a taxi driver is one of the worst things about travel”, according to this article written by Alexander Bachuwa. “Based on my experience in Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh, I would say that Egypt is the worst place that I have encountered the shady taxi driver.”
Um…Alexander…what exactly is the alternative? I can tell you that driving in Egypt is not a viable option for the squeamish — but I digress, as usual.
Why Manila Should be Added to the Seven Worst Places to Hail a Taxi Cab
After I spent approximately 24 hours in Manila — which included walking the streets of the city and seeing a raw version of everyday life with my eyes; a long walk on the fortress walls of Intramuros; a visit to the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica; and a long stroll along Roxas Boulevard — as part of my unintentional trip around the world, I then watched the sun set along Manila Bay and walked around Mall of Asia before deciding to head back to the airport at night.
Although I typically do not use taxi cabs whenever I travel, no viable options of public transportation to or from Ninoy Aquino International Airport — which serves the greater Manila metropolitan area — exist; and it was night time. There were no yellow airport taxi cabs immediately available in sight outside of Mall of Asia; but swarms of white taxi cabs were eagerly jockeying for position to grab whatever fares they can collect.
I did not have to hail any taxi cabs. I chose one at random and said that I wanted to go to the airport. The taxi driver did not turn his meter on, saying that it was broken.
Yeah, right, I thought to myself. I knew what that meant; but I went along with it anyway — my mistake — as I heard that many taxi cab drivers in Manila are not exactly honest anyway. For example, I have heard about some taxi cabs whose meters run fast to collect more money.
Of course, we sat in heavy traffic on the way to the airport despite the time of night; but it was due to road construction. Other than that information, the driver was thankfully pretty much quiet for the duration of the trip.
When we arrived at Terminal 1 of the airport, he told me that the fare was 250 Philippine pesos. After some debate, I angrily gave him the money without a tip in his attempt to scam me — until I realized that the fare was only approximately $5.68; and I really had no further use for those Philippine pesos anyway. Perhaps I overpaid by as much as two or three dollars; but I just counted that as the tip being built in even though he did not deserve it.
I understand that it is common for taxi drivers in Manila not to turn on the meter.
It is a shame that scams associated with taxi cabs exist around the world — such as in Las Vegas, for example — and they can be potentially detrimental to tourism and the taxi cab industry itself. Perhaps that is one reason why ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are gaining momentum and popularity around the world — although they are far from perfect or safe themselves, which is one reason why airports want to require fingerprinting the drivers of those ride sharing services if they are to be permitted to pick up fares at the airport.
If you want to — or must — hail a taxi cab while traveling, you may want to consider the advice given in this article written by Alexander Bachuwa. Also, one trick which has worked for me in the past is to say that all you have left is a certain amount of money. Either the person will accept your offer and provide the product or service; or turn it down, as that is what happened to me in Oman when I felt like I was being scammed to see its version of the Grand Canyon — or in Mozambique when I attempted to exchange currency.
Otherwise, I recommend that you consider alternate forms of ground transportation whenever possible while traveling, as taxi cabs are not usually the fastest — or amongst the least expensive — forms of ground transportation available.
A white taxi cab is seen pulling towards the curb on the right side of the street in the middle of the photograph near Mall of Asia in Manila. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.