Before we moved to Shenyang, the company gave us the option of having a car and driver, or receiving a monthly stipend for taxis/other transportation. Because we’ve never lived in a big city, and might never again, we opted for the taxis. We saw it as part of the experience. There have been a few moments when I wished we had a driver (like going to the vet or having a big grocery order). And when the new plant is finally done farther out of town, it might come time for one. We’ll see.
We’ve been lucky. Other than peak times, we don’t have trouble finding a taxi. (One time, our group offered a driver 50RMB for a 20RMB trip just so we could get home in the cold.) In fact, we have even found a favorite taxi driver. Last summer, Tim came home on a Friday and said he’d had the same driver three days that week. And four days the following week. Then every day. Now, Mr. Wang takes Tim and other Michelin people to work every morning. We call him when we need a ride to the airport, or the vet, or for that big grocery trip. He is a good man, speaks slowly, and likes us as much as we like him.
We have countless “interesting” stories about taxi drivers. Some might only be funny to us. Most involve a miscommunication because we don’t understand the language well enough. In the beginning, the stories were all about what crazy drivers they are, but we’ve gotten used to it.
The most interesting part for me, though, is the view from the taxi. Sometimes, the front seat; sometimes the back. Never a seatbelt. Periodically a rickety car. Friendly drivers. Wondering about us. Thanking us because we tip them and others don’t. And never minding that I like to take pictures of daily life out the taxi window. These are random pictures of Shenyang I will always have in my mind, even years after we are done here.