Taxi Safety?

Hey, I’m the resident exchange student and I’ve got a problem regarding taxis:

I live in Xindian at a place where, in order to get home, I need to take a bus. However, buses shut down rather early in the night. I personally am fine with taking a taxi, I can handle the chinese and I’m pretty sure I could defend myself against the majority of taxi drivers here. However, my parents don’t want me to use a taxi because they are afraid they’re too dangerous.

I’ve heard from other exchange students that if people take a taxi alone they will call up their friend and tell them the taxi driver’s license in case they wind up dead some day. I can understand the concern if maybe Taipei wasn’t so safe and I was a girl, but Taipei is safe and I’m a guy.

So, I’m wondering, does anyone actually know any of the horrible things that could happen/have happened involving sinlge taxi use?

Thanks guys

IMO taxis are safe here, certainly for guys. Just take them and don’t worry about it. Relax!

Yeah, I’m chill about it… it’s winning an argument with my host parents as they are the ones who could unleash the wrath of Rotary on me if I disobey.

I can’t imagine what these irrational mysterious dangers are but in convincing my host parents it’d be really to helpful to know what specifically to argue against.

I’m heading to Taiwan thru Rotary this summer (youth Exchange for a year).

under your circumstances you could maybe text the taxi number each time to keep the host family happy!! You gotta tow the line sometimes in these situations - sorry !

From the premier ‘Why Taiwan is hell on earth’ site, specifically on taxis:

[quote]In addition to the usual dangers, taxis are dangerous for unescorted females. More than two-thirds of taxi drivers have criminal records (what else can ex-cons do?) and there have been many cases of unescorted women killed by drivers. The driver may also be a thug sizing up your home for a crime – try and avoid being dropped off directly in front of your house.

If you can, establish a relationship with a taxi company. Their drivers are usually a cut above.

Additionally, NEVER accept anything consumable (food, gum, cigarettes, etc) offered to you in a taxi. You might be drugged and robbed. If it can happen to locals, it can happen to you.[/quote]

Photo caption:

On crime in Taiwan generally:

[quote]The English teaching world is a little slice of unreality, a floating Cloud City of harmless, pleasant businesses where everyone speaks some English, interactions are largely with deferential females, and people understand foreigners. Do not mistake that easygoing and apparently navigable world for the real Taiwan. It is purely a hothouse for foreign English teachers.

[…]

Sadly, crime is a huge problem in Taiwan. Taiwan is far less safe than Western countries for its citizens.

The upside is that foreigners will rarely, if ever, be bothered by criminals and will hardly be aware of the rampant crime and corruption that colors Taiwanese society.

[…]

Of course crime is a way of life for political figures. Most public officials are mildly to severely corrupt. The former ruling party, the KMT, has long been in cahoots with organized crime, so reforms are difficult to implement. Just this year a gangster was elected to the legislature while still in jail after a conviction for murder and various forms of corruption. In many cases local officials are major investors in illegal businesses.

[…]

Tax evasion is higher in Taiwan than probably anywhere else (yes, even Italy, an economy which is eeriely similar to Taiwan’s.)

Many foreigners who happily participate in various forms of tax evasion do not really think about what such commonplace contempt for the law might mean about other aspects of society.

This system allows foreigners to work illegally with little fear of getting caught, and many find it exotic and romantic. It is not. It is sordid, scary, and authoritarian. Like all authoritarian systems, it is underpinned by violence.

This violence is often one aspect of a more fundamental social phenomenon: social control through reprisal. Reprisal is an important mode of social interaction on Taiwan (since the police do not enforce the law), and no significant hurt will go unavenged, regardless of whether the avenger is in the right or not.

This is why it is so important to remain close-mouthed about things in your personal life. Although reprisals are uncommon against foreigners, they do occur.

Furthermore, since we are from societies where people do not avenge every slight and the police actually enforce the law, we are at a disadvantage in this childish game of tit-for-tat. The less people know about you, the safer you are from reprisals.

As a foreigner, you can be the target of several kinds of crime. Remember, you are a FOREIGNER and don’t know jack shit. Confidence is no subsitute for experience. I can’t emphasize that enough. You don’t know anything, and if you don’t speak Chinese, you know even less.

In addition to getting killed in the usual ways – auto accidents, jealous spouse, every year or two here foreign tourists and newbie teachers disappear. Don’t be stupid. Go with a friend. Take only public transport. Do not go to remote areas alone.

Try and remember that many of the nice, deferential, polite people you meet are thugs sizing you up for a con or worse. In Taiwan, paranoia, not prudence, is the proper attitude.

Involvement in drugs is a good way to die. So is pissing off the local mob. If you run into someone you think is a gangster, do not look or make eye contact with them. If a car with flashing blue lights around the license plate hassles you, leave the scene immediately.

Another way you can avoid crime is not to be out after midnight in bars or on the streets. Certain bars are gangster haunts and violent encounters are common. Further, gangsters will sometimes hassle people out on the roads in the wee hours. Many foreigners stupidly feel that they are exempt because they are foreign or because they are tough. Wrong. There is only one way to deal with violent gangsters and that is don’t be where they are. Those of you who doubt this should read this thread at Segue on gangster violence in the Hsinchu Pig & Whistle.

IMPORTANT: When you hand people a copy of your passport, ARC, or other ID, write something like: “job application use only” on the copy of the passport, across some area of the passport copy itself (not on the blank paper next to it). Criminals frequently use copies of ID documents to steal identity, and this will spoil it so they can’t use it. See the picture on my page on protecting yourself for further information.[/quote]

He also lists a number of common cons and ripoffs, and basically warns you to be paranoid since the island is rife with crime and the natives are unprincipled hounds who have no conscience, no concept of honesty, and are all looking for a way to get your money.

And your experience is that . . . ? :unamused:

As someone above suggested, tow the line and text the taxi number. Yes, there have been instances of taxis abducting and raping passengers. This seemed more common several years back. Personally, no one I know has ever had a bigger problem in a Taiwan taxi than funky smells, crap music or a lost mobile phone.

HG

TOE the line, TOE the line!
For Chrissakes…

[quote=“canonman”]Hey, I’m the resident exchange student and I’ve got a problem regarding taxis:

I live in Xindian at a place where, in order to get home, I need to take a bus. However, buses shut down rather early in the night. I personally am fine with taking a taxi, I can handle the Chinese and I’m pretty sure I could defend myself against the majority of taxi drivers here. However, my parents don’t want me to use a taxi because they are afraid they’re too dangerous.[/quote]
I’ve never had a problem with taxis here. Safety problems are rare. And your parents don’t have to know that you’re taking taxis.

And your experience is that . . . ? :unamused:[/quote]

My experience is far too short to be meaningful (I’ve only been here 18 months). I was simply passing on the information Turton gives.

I have never been hassled in a taxi and I don’t know anyone who has.

With all due respect, be a little hesitant of taking Turton’s rants on his site as gospel.

Turton is spewing paranoid rants in an irresponsible manner, and one shouldn’t blindly repeat such scaremongering. :wink: There may be a grain of truth here and there in the warnings, but one should keep a level head and use common sense.

Taiwan is NOT more dangerous than most of our home countries; it is much safer, IMO. Other than single women needing to be cautious about taxis, especially outside of Taipei, there’s no need to worry. Taxis are only a danger if you’re on a motorcycle! :astonished:

use this as leverage to buy a scooter!

You’re in much greater danger on a scooter. Just FYI.

Well 18 months is long enough harumph!. Actually, I thought you’d been here a lot longer Fortigurn…

Dragonbones is, as always, on the money. Crikey, I just read back and saw the OP is a bloke!! You have absolutely nothing to worry about except being bored shitless by mad political conspiracy theories and the stench of a virtually lived in car. However, every now and then you do meet absolute gems.

Oh, that plastic cup next to the driver is full of baby blood. They drink it to keep themselves awake. Since you’re not a baby . . . :wink:

Anyway, they get the babies from the supermarket cos it’s uncool to kill your own. Here’s a driver chowing down after a hard shift on Taipei’s safe streets.

HG

Turton is spewing paranoid rants in an irresponsible manner, and one shouldn’t blindly repeat such scaremongering. :wink: There may be a grain of truth here and there in the warnings, but one should keep a level head and use common sense.

Taiwan is NOT more dangerous than most of our home countries; it is much safer, IMO. Other than single women needing to be cautious about taxis, especially outside of Taipei, there’s no need to worry. Taxis are only a danger if you’re on a motorcycle! :astonished:[/quote]

I am very glad to hear this. I have held my own opinion on Turton’s website for a while now, but I haven’t aired it because I’m still relatively new to Taiwan, and haven’t spent much time outside Taipei.

I think taxis are much safer than they used to be, I don’t think ex-cons can get licensed anymore. Buses, however, are a different deal entirely, there appears little in the way of loonie enforcement here. I believe they currently hold the title of Taiwan’s most homicidal profession. Ever given the finger in traffic to a driver of one of the blue buses? Don’t if you value your life. And why is it that psychotics only drive blue buses?

My only real problem with taxis has been in Taichung, where they sometimes assume you don’t know the city and drive you in eight big circles before taking you where you want to go. These days I only tell them “turn left here, turn right there”.

I did once get into a screaming argument with a taxi driver when he demanded more money than was on the meter … I found out much later that, it being Chinese New Year, he was legally entitled to it :slight_smile:

Here in Changhua, which is a pretty small city (you can walk from one end to the other in 30 mins), there seems to be a lot of taxi drivers who don’t know where they’re going. Not as in trying to rip you off - it’s $100 anywhere in the city, whether it’s 2 blocks or 2km, but as in they don’t know.

A couple of weeks ago, I got into a taxi at the train station for the 5 min drive home. Told him the street, but he didn’t know it. So, because the place I work is close to the building I live in (2 min walk), I showed him my ARC so he could read the address.

Off we drove, going totally the wrong way. He stopped, asked for my ARC again, and tried to read it by the feeble interior light of his cab (it was nighttime). That proved impossible, as there wasn’t enough light. I had been out on a photo shoot that day, and always have an LED flashlight in my camera bag (plus a whopping great tripod which could easily be used as a weapon, if need be). He read the address again, and drove on. Got to Chungshan Rd (the busiest road in Changhua), stopped in the middle of the road and pulled out his cell phone. I was trying to give him directions (in Chinese) but he ignored me, called a friend and asked his friend for directions. Finally we took off again, the driver with one hand on the wheel, the other still holding the phone as he continued to recieve directions. He stopped a couple more times to read street signs, still ignoring me telling him to keep going.

Eventually he found my street. It runs off Chungshan Rd. The taxi ride ended up taking close to 30 mins (but only cost me $100). It should have taken 5 mins. I can walk from the train station to my place in 15mins.

The worst thing is - it’s not the first time it’s happened. It was the longest, however.