You know the price of property really is too high when 100 per cent of cab passengers surveyed admit their favourite activities in the back of Hong Kong taxis are sleeping and kissing.
That’s according to the latest annual global taxi survey from Hotels.com. Hong Kong, despite being kicked out of the global top ten from 8th last year to 15th this year, is still ranked as a top place for 40 winks or a bit of nookie by locals. They obviously don’t get enough of either at home. It’s miraculous they can either sleep or snog in a Hong Kong cab, given the number of drivers whose jerk along, foot glued to the accelerator pedal, stamping or lifting their foot to speed up and slow down alternatively.
This is guaranteed to put most people in the mood for throwing up, not lull them to sleep or excite them to passion.
Then there’s the chatty driver who won’t shut up. Or the one who has returned from driving a cab in Toronto or Hongcouver and wants to tell you how good Canada was. Then there’s the flower mouth type, who whispers sweet nothings to his girlfriend on the phone, glancing at the road occasionally, just often enough to avoid crashing red lights. He might as well be kissing in the car. Even worse is the type who keeps the crackling taxi radio turned up, so all you hear is “Jung Wan heui gaychung, Jung Wan heui gaychung, crackle crackle,” until some driver takes the trip and it switches to another destination.
None of this is conducive to either sleep or snogging, so good luck to anyone who manages to accomplish one, or both. Interestingly, only 88.9% of Hongkongers surveyed felt comfortable doing the same in a Singapore taxi, which is strange because they have to drive slowly and calmly or their tachometer makes a noise. Even fewer felt like it: 79.1%, in a Taipei cab.
Amazingly, 75 per cent were happy to snooze and smooch in a mainland taxi, which really does show the triumph of hope over experience.
London still top
The world’s best taxis in the global part of the survey were, in percentage of the votes: London: 22%, New York: 10%, Tokyo: 9%, Berlin: 5%, then Amsterdam/ Madrid/ Mexico City all on 4%, followed by Bangkok/ Singapore/ Bogota/ Las Vegas/ Vancouver and Mumbai on 3%.
Hong Kong only garnered a miserable 2% of the global vote, but maybe they have never been here, tying with Shanghai and Taipei on 2%.
Zurich scored a measly 0.5%, but the fact they ranked at all is a miracle since you need to take out a mortgage to afford a Zurich cab,that’s if you can find one.
Of the 30 countries surveyed, London topped the list across five of the seven categories, including cleanliness (23%), knowledge of the area (27%) and quality of driving (30%). While London cabs were also voted top for friendliness (23%), that was deemed the least important. Perhaps those friendly guys and their trenchant views are just too much for some passengers. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) voted safety their number one priority for taxis, which London's cabs also ranked highest. New York and Bangkok taxis came joint first for value for money (20%);
When it came to the views of Hongkongers, locals are loyal, voting our own dear cab drivers top in four out of the seven categories, including availability (50%), knowledge of area (41.7%), value (25%) and safety (25%).
I tend to agree. You can moan as much as you like about Hong Kong cabs, but in my 23 years of experience they are almost always polite, helpful, patient and have clean cars. One agreed to take two greyhounds, a shar pei and three adults in the car the other day. For that you can forgive the occasional one who is convinced the IFC and the FCC are the same place.