Taiwan Taxi Drivers

I’ve been building up a head of steam about this for a while:

Lurchers: This species of Taiwan taxi driver hits the accelerator, hits the brakes, hits the gas, hits the brakes incessantly. It has nothing to do with any outside events. It’s entirely a psychological thing. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon from the back seat of a taxi without another car ahead of us for a hundred meters. I have no insight at all into what’s going on here.

Stompers: This species of Taiwan taxi driver stomps his brake hard at least once every hundred meters for no apparent reason. He accelerates normally and drives evenly for long stretches, so it’s particularly disorienting when he slams on his brakes as if he’s just spied a deadly dropoff masquerading as clear road ahead. The odd thing about this type is he has more near rear-end collisions than any other type of Taiwan taxi driver.

Betel-nut Bandit: you always know this type by their red-stained teeth and the leer you constantly catch them making back at you in their rear view mirror. I don’t speak Taiwanese but if I did I’d guess this type is thinking: “Man, we would’ve roughed that pussy up good in prison if we’d had him in there 'wif us. Now I just have to figure out how I’m gonna cheat him out of everything he has in his pockets before he can get out of my cab.”

The Living Dead Driver: this type is uncommon but not unknown on Taiwan’s highways and byways, though he’s mostly found out in Taiwan’s smaller cities and towns. Other than the fact that he’s steering and working the pedals, he shows no other signs of being alive. He utters sounds when addressed but nothing is remotely intelligible in any language. Exudes a constant stream of spittle. Ignores all traffic signals and other road markers. Cuts across lines of traffic wantonly, goes the wrong way down one-way streets – all at very slow speeds as if he’s supremely confident that because he answers to a higher authority no mere earthly policemen will dare bother him.

Mad Hatters: drive like bats out of hell. Have a slightly crazed look and seem very angry about something. You can catch them checking out your reaction after each death-defying maneuver with a mega-second glance as if you’re an important part of their personal drama. If you feign nonchalance, they drive ever faster and more recklessly until you show some reaction. Only seems to happen when a foreign man is in a taxi with a local woman.

Gentlemen & scholars: In fairness, about every twentieth taxi driver in Taiwan takes one by surprise with his erudition, consideration and overall aura of class. You wonder how he ended up behind the wheel but when you see him practice his profession with pride and regard his customers with respect you realize you’ve just experienced one of the reasons why you’ve chosen to live in Taiwan in the first place.


Great Analysis!!! HA HA HA!!!

Mad Hatters: drive like bats out of hell. Have a slightly crazed look and seem very angry about something. You can catch them checking out your reaction after each death-defying maneuver with a mega-second glance as if you’re an important part of their personal drama. If you feign nonchalance, they drive ever faster and more recklessly until you show some reaction. Only seems to happen when a foreign man is in a taxi with a local woman.[/quote]

you can’t feign nonchalance with these, you have to BE nonchalance. break off a few bone-cracking yawns or do a mr. bean nodding off act. make pleasant comments about the lack of traffic and how rushed you are. the local woman will be tugging at your arm and making frantic faces but don’t let that distract you. this will drive the driver nuts, I promise you! he’ll try going even faster, but that will make even him nervous. you’ll be ready to break down laughing by the time you get out, and once you explain the loss of face you dealt the schmuck to the local woman, she will start talking to you again.

Have you ever noticed who most taxi drivers with automatics, constantly manually operate the gearbox, moving from D to 3, to 2, back to D, and then firing the thing into N 20 feet before coming to rest. Then it’s back into 1 with a crunch as the lights changed, then 2, and so on…


This is what we in Ireland refer to as “buying a pig and grunting yourself”. I am sure Sandman is familiar with this term.

I was hoping this wasn’t just me. Lurchers are my particular nemeses. I want to wring their necks. Do they bother anybody else? Does anyone know what I’m talking about here?

As far as the Mad Hatters go, I don’t mind throwing them a bone or two by grabbing for the hand strap or tugging at my collar nervously once or twice. I’ve found it generally works to defuse them a little. No big deal. I understand they’re just trying to work through some inadequacy issues and I like going fast anyway. Often they’re quite skilled drivers. They long ago dispelled any stereotypes I used to have about ‘people from Asia’ operating motorized vehicles.

The automatic transmission crunchers I’m aware of. I haven’t noticed their particular patterns though as they’re often lurchers too and I’m generally struggling to contain my homocidal impulses about the time they’re tangoing with their transmissions.

I’m often wondering as I’m watching these guys lurch, slam, stomp, snooze, crunch and otherwise abuse the intricate machines in their employ if they treat their women the same way. They probably do, which accounts for all those stories one hears about droves of sexually deprived women here.

Hexuan wrote [quote]This is what we in Ireland refer to as “buying a pig and grunting yourself”.[/quote]That’s why Irish and jokes get 506,000 hits at google :wink:

Because Ireland is a big joke?

In my experience, lurchers are most common behind the wheels of public buses, ESPECIALLY WHEN I’M STANDING. MFs.

Those guys are the best. :smiley:

I hear ya! I currently have a very cool taxi driver - whether I need him or not! Several months ago my father and brother arrived for a visit and while here they decided to go to Taroko Gorge for the day. I had to work so I called a cab from a card I found somewhere and arranged for the driver to take them. He took them on a really great trip, gave them a reduced rate and then, upon dropping them off arranged to take them out the next day to Li Yu Tan to visit friends. Again, a reduced rate.

The day they left to return to Canda he arrived to take us all to the train station - no charge! My father made the comment to him that he really appreciated his service and said that he hoped that I would call this driver when the weather was too bad to ride my scooter as he worried about me here at times, driving in heavy rain in Hualien.

Now… every time it rains the driver shows up to see if I have already left for work or if I need to go anywhere! He never takes it badly when I decline his offer - in fact, he says that if I give him my fathers’ address he will let him know that I am fine! Go figure! I think that he seems to feel that he has accepted some kind of sacred commision or something!

Life is funny… and there are always a few people who are gems in the rough where you least expect to find them! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

It’s not only taxi and bus drivers that slam on the brakes whenever they go a little over the speedlimit than start accelerating again. I experienced this behavior with many Taiwanese I was in the car with.

i see why youve done it…but i still dont want my taxi drivers are great type thread mixed in with the taxi drivers are maniacs thread. although i have seen a few living dead type.


I stand corrected. In an attempt to right a wrong I’ve added a final, sincere category to the original posting.


But you forgot one…How about the older cabbies that still are driving sticks? They have the poor vehicle in fourth gear before they hit 20km per hour…The engine’s sounds of protest really bother me…

My daughter will vomit violently in a lurcher mobile…Oh, sorry we don’t have time to clean that up for you, here’s an extra hundred :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

Maybe cabbies in Taichung are generally better. I don’t often take taxis, but every driver I’ve had has been OK.

I got into a conversation with one about the advantages of manual gearboxes; me using horrible pidgin Chinese, he not seeming to mind.

Another tried to polish my Chinese ability- his point was lost on me but I appreciate his effort.

On the actual driving skills; well, I don’t see too many taxis with big dents or scratches, so they must be doing something right. They are professional, everyday drivers and want to look after their vehicles (I’m surprised by what people have said above about gearbox abuse- maybe Taipei drivers are different?) As a motorcyclist, I feel more concerned about the mass of untrained and unobservant private vehicle drivers.

How about the drag racers? Happened to me just this morning. I was standing on the curb trying to flag down a cab. Two cabbies about 200 meters away saw me simultaneously and proceeded to have a drag race to see who can get to where I was faster. I swear I heard the sound of burning rubber. I was glad when I took the winning dragster, as I was running late and he got me to my destination on time.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised on several occassions by Taipei taxi drivers, and generally experiences have been god rather than bad.

One particular occassion, about 2:00am on the way home, after the usual questions (you know, how long have you been here, how much do you earn etc) the driver determined that my wife was a Hakka, which pleased him no end, as so was his.

He stopped the car, fished out a Hakka/Taiwanese language learning book and gave me an impromptu Hakka lesson for 30 minutes at the roadside. Needless to say, having been drinking for the previous 5-6 hours, little was absorbed!

Nice taxi driver…here taxi driver…nice taxi driver. Smell my hand boy… yes he’s a good taxi driver isn’t he…

Thank you to Taipei Taxi drivers.
When I first came here, I observed your tactics and approach to a traffic that overwhelmed me. After 2 months, I was ready for Taipei traffic, with the aggressive-flexible approach I learned from you.
Now, 10 years after, the traffic is much more civilized, and I have escaped without any accidents to talk about (rear ended by others, scooters hitting me when parking, the standerd keying etc.).

The aggressive-flexible appproach is perfect for a crowded place like this, and learning from taxi-drivers is having expert teachers.

well, i once asked this taxi driver why he drives so fast…
he said…if he drive faster, i’ll be there faster then he would be able to take next customer. Plus if he doesn’t drive fast… he might be ran over or got hit by other crazy driver :stuck_out_tongue: