Thursday, June 28, 2012

Illiterate taxi driver

Something I could only laugh about in hindsight...An illiterate taxi driver on my last night in Korea. After I get in the cab, he peppers me with questions (I am presuming he asks me which highway to take). Finally i give him the card to call the hotel. He proceeds to input a few things into the GPS, but never gets to the final screen. All along the way he is driving, then calling the hotel, and then driving again...We took one of the more circuitous routes through Suwon, and I getting more frustrated, but needless to say my Korean was never that good even when I lived there. Finally we end up on the highway, i know we haven't gone the most direct route as i see signs for the airport (on the west side of seoul, i want to be on the east side!) But we end up in Seoul, so I am mildly relieved at least. This was shattered when he goes over the bridge and takes a left. Now i KNOW we are headed in the wrong direction. So I call up the hotel myself. After all, at this point it has been over an hour, it is 9 pm, and I am HUNGRY (never mind tired). A few calls to the hotel, and passing the phone back and forth with him, and the hotel concierge tells me that he thinks the taxi driver is illiterate. He keeps typing in 1-2 letters, looking around, and then canceling out of the menu. (I know i could have figured it out by this point, but the hotel tells him to find some help). After sitting for almost 20 minutes on a side road in a random part of Seoul, listening to the back and forth with the hotel, the concierge finally instructs to the driver to find someone to input Walkerhill into the GPS. The driver gets two girls walking who were passing by to type in the address. And finally we have a full GPS route! Of course it couldn't be that simple, since he took a wrong turn almost immediately and we headed back over the bridge. Sigh...Thankfully one U turn later, we were headed in the right direction, and i was at the hotel only 2 hours after I got in the cab (for what should have been a 40 minute drive). So the crazy thing about the whole experience? I don't think I could have handled it much better even if my Korean had been better. You don't expect someone to have a GPS and not know how to type Korean...I did make sure I did not pay full fare though, even if Samsung was paying for it, no way would I encourage that sort of experience! So the total bill for that 2 hours of driving? Less than $40...Yes, taxis are still cheap in Korea ;)

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