Another night train brought me back in Hefei extremely early in the morning. Interesting to see the city waking up. From the railway station, got the usual cab to my place down in the south. And I had a sort of chat with the driver. No, I did not find a taxi driver able to speak English: it was all Chinese! Very few words from my side, a few more from his, but I think I understood some of the things he wanted to say, especially about the part that he had no idea where my house was!
A few details here. Until a couple of weeks ago I always used on the taxi a piece of paper with my address handwritten by a Chinese colleague. Then recently I decided to just tell the drivers the name of the area and a few of the main streets in that area that they should know, and then pointing the directions. Learning by trying, and I managed all the times to get home!
This morning, the driver had a bit more problem to understand the main streets, so I had to mention the expressway that goes from the center all the way down, and from that one, the names of a few other streets. So then he understood. Then, interested about chatting, he told me he lived here 3 years.. and I told him I have been 2 months here! :-) I guess he start worrying about my knowledge of Hefei streets.. but feeling good about the early morning laoway company, maybe, told me my Chinese was good..
A good start of the day!!
However, my Chinese is not good.. it is actually NOT.. finish.. I know numbers, I know when a taxi driver has no idea where he should go and as any Mediterranean country person, I can read gesticulation and facial expression, stitching all together with those 5 words I actually know in Chinese and make out the meaning of the sentence a taxi driver could tell me.. It is not like having a chat at work or trying to pick up a girl in the disco!! :-(
FUNNY THING OF THE DAY – It is not uncommon in China that taxi drivers do not know the way. Because cities are expanding and changing so fast that streets sometimes change name or are cancelled. Because maybe the drivers is used only to the center or has been not long in the city. Because Chinese cities are messy! So better to learn always a couple of the main streets around your area, or have a detailed address in Chinese! Or if not enough they call colleagues.. or just stop other taxi.. My very first time in China, arriving in the night in Wenzhou, no contacts and hotel address in English only, the first driver moved me over to a second car.. and he managed after a long trip to find the hotel! It was a strange beginning!