Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taxi experience in Manila

Just arrived in the Philippines for a 1-week training workshop in Quezon City. I did some "homework" before leaving Singapore, but I was still annoyed at the bad experience in the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.

I chose the yellow "airport taxi", as feedback online seemed to indicate that they were not likely to scam foreigners.

I provided the hotel address to a lady at the counter outside the airport. She wrote the details down on a form, and passed it to me to give to the taxi driver.

First problem. As usual, the taxi driver "appeared" to not understand the address details, even after I had given him the form mentioned earlier. I had envisaged this earlier, and had written down the address on a piece of paper that I could give away (with another copy safe in my bag). I tried to take note of the carplate number while inside the taxi, but couldn't see any labelling inside the car.

The taxi driver then used his walkie-talkie to communicate with someone. Not sure what the conversation was about. Anyway, I noted the time that I took the taxi (5pm), as I had done some research to find out the time from the airport to Quezon City (30 min).

I recognised the route taken at the beginning, as the taxi began driving along EDSA (recognised because I noticed the MRT (blue line) running alongside the road). Then the taxi took a left towards Greenhills. We passed by the Greenhills Shopping Center and then another classic "trick" appeared.

At a junction, the driver stepped out of the car and took a worrying look at his car tyre. He then came back in and told me that he needed to fix his faulty tyre. Conveniently, we were next to a petrol station, and he drove in to let the attendant do a check on the tyre pressure. Thankfully, this didn't take too long.

The next trick wasn't too far away. The taxi driver asked me for the address again. He had "lost" the piece of paper that I gave him. So I whipped out my backup copy and told him the address. He then replied that we were on the road mentioned. I then told him that it was right at a roundabout. With the hotel in sight, I had to point it out to him twice.

When we finally arrived at the hotel driveway, the final "Act". I asked him how much I had to pay; at the same time, I saw for myself on the meter the figure 215. He shrugged my question, and instead went out to take out my luggage from the boot. When I asked him again, he dropped the bombshell. 800 pesos. I gave him 300 pesos, and told him to "take it of leave it". He tried to ask for 400, but I ignored him and walked into the hotel.

He looked frustrated, and remained at the driveway for a short while, but later drove away... I have to admit that I was lucky, because he had actually turned on the meter, and took out my luggage before dropping the bombshell.

I hope that the Philippine government department in charge will continue its drive to clean up the taxi industry...

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