Trick taxi

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 12:00am

Many of my friends have come from Japan to visit me here in Hong Kong. I was excited to be able to show them where I live and have the opportunity to let them know what an exciting city this is.


However, some of the taxi drivers we hired proved to be less than honest. On two different occasions when we wanted to go from a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui to Kowloon MTR station so that we could catch a train to Tsing Yi, drivers tried to convince us that the train fare from Kowloon to Tsing Yi would be more than $70 per person. Having lived in Hong Kong for nearly a year I know the MTR fare from Kowloon to Tsing Yi. Yet these drivers must have thought I was a visitor too because all of us were speaking Japanese. They offered to take us by taxi, for about $200, which, they said would save us $150.


As my friends cannot speak English very well, and are not familiar with Hong Kong, I am certain they would have been deceived had I not been with them. Needless to say, we did not take the taxis. On another occasion, a driver who we hired to take us from the Peak tram to Hong Kong MTR station in Central tried to drop us off at Admiralty. When I informed him (in English, which he spoke well) that we wanted to go to Hong Kong station, he told me that they were one and the same. When I persisted that I knew Admiralty and Hong Kong were different stations, he refused to take us any further. No doubt the trip was too short for him and he wanted to be rid of us so he could find a better fare.


I do not have these problems when I am in the company of English or Chinese speakers so I have to conclude that unfortunately, these drivers must see Japanese people as easy marks.


Although my friends thought these experiences were slightly funny and marvelled that they could have been so easily swindled, I am saddened that the era of over- charging Japanese tourists and taking advantage of trusting foreign visitors is not yet over. I can see that some members of the tourist industry have still not learned their lessons.


MIKA YOSHIIKE


New Territories