Travel pr0 tip #1: communication with the taxi driver
Under the series “travel pr0 tips”, I’ll start compiling some advice for the road that I have personally found really useful.
Today’s post is about communication with taxi drivers in foreign countries. Unless it is a country where I feel confident communicating in the local language or taxi drivers are known to speak English well, I almost always try to resort to written communication. It just avoids a lot of misunderstandings and takes out most of any kind of ambiguity. Make sure you have your destination written down somewhere, be it a business card, a print out or any other kind of handwritten directions. Even if the driver does not know where exactly you want to go, at least he can check with other people while avoiding misunderstandings.
It is even trickier in countries that uses another than the Latin alphabet. In such cases I find it even more important to have written documentation of where you want to go. In places with the Latin alphabet you can at least to write it down on the spot, however that does not get you anywhere in some places. So print out the address in the local script from a website or ask a friend to send it to you via e-Mail/SMS.
My most recent experience was in Qingdao, China. The taxi drivers spoke pretty much zero English (which is about as much as I speak Chinese – ni hao!). However, with a printout in big signs (if you print it, you might as well print it big), commnication was no issue.