‘What do we do with the photo?’

In my time in Korea I’ve taken a lot of taxi rides, mainly because they’re cheap, easier than battling the subway sometimes and, to be fair, I’m downright lazy at some points in time. I mostly get ignored by the taxi driver and we continue to our destination in silence. Some insist on practicing their English with me.


‘No, Ireland.’


‘No, Ireland.’

‘Ah, England.’

‘Yes. Yes, England.’

‘English teacher?’


Some ask if I’m Russian…akin to asking if I’m a prostitute. Some insist on telling me stories about their lives, their children, their problems with their wives ‘I like my wife, but she is old now and her breasts, they’re low.’ (I kid you not), and, of course, there are the taxi drivers who won’t pick you up because you’re western, will pick you up because you’re western (and they can overcharge you and take you ‘the long, scenic route’) and then there are the taxi drivers who stop, you get in, they ask where you’re going and they decide they don’t want to go there and kick you back out.

Last weekend, The Canadian One had a gig (he’s in a band) and we had a leaving party to attend. Now, the gig was in a bar in Gangnam while the 2nd location was a bar near Sinsa station. To help, I’ve drawn you a map:

Not to scale…

The Canadian One, myself and My Blonde Friend all left Bar 1 in the rain. It wasn’t hard pellets of wetness falling from the sky. It was more like the type of rain that you could safely dash to the store and back again in and not get too wet. BUT should you stay out in it for more than ten minutes, you find yourself drenched.

Around 20 of us left at the same time and, not willing to fight the other 20 people on the streets awaiting passing cabs, our fearless trio headed towards Sinnonhyun Station.


Then to Nonhyun Station.


Then on towards Sinsa Station where a cab finally pulled up, asked where we were going and the cabbie promptly started to laugh at us.

Against our better judgement and given the lack of cabs, our fearless trio entered the cab regardless. I mean, serial killers don’t laugh at their victims while trying to kidnap them, they’re much too suave for that.

The journey was to Sinsa station, turn right, drive straight maybe 5 minutes and drop us off. Simple.

Not so much.

Upon entering the cab, (My Blonde Friend and I in the back, The Canadian One in the front) the cabbie refuses to turn on the meter.

TCO: ‘Meter.’

Cabbie: ‘No. 5,000.’

This is twice as much as it would cost us on the meter.

TCO: ‘No, meter.’

The ping-pong game of ‘Meter – No’ continues until The Canadian One comes out victorious.

We pull up to Sinsa Station and we tell him to turn right. He refuses. We tell him again and he does it, all the while complaining loudly in Korean about us.

We tell him straight. He mutters in Korean but he goes straight.

We tell him to continue on straight and he mutters in Korea, angrily.

But he continues driving.

He starts yelling ‘Where? Where?’ and we tell him straight.

He says he’s a call taxi and was being kind picking us up. We get this from the English words ‘Kind, KIND’ and ‘CALL TAXI!’ that he says, loudly and angrily to us.

Now we’re in a cab at 12am with a call taxi who was heading to another location to pick someone up but figured we were on his way so he’d make an extra 5,000 off the books BUT we told him to put on the meter (step 1 in him hating us) and had made him turn off his straight path to his pick-up (step 2 in him hating us).

Then The Canadian One does something that causes an utter meltdown and step 3 in sealing his hatred for us. He takes a picture of the guy’s ID card on the dashboard in front of him.

Car stops.


Cabbie makes an immediate grab for TCO’s phone. TCO, quick like a bunny, moves his hand out of the cabbie’s reach and I hold out a 10,000 to pay our bill.

‘Delete!’ Cabbie yells.

‘Ok.’ TCO responds, not moving.

‘Delete.’ Cabbie yells.

‘Ok.’ TCO responds

‘DELETE!’ Cabbie yells and then yells more in Korean.

I still hold out the 10,000 won and he hits my hand away yelling at us to get out of the cab. We get out and stand by the side of the road. He speeds off, rolling down the window as he rounds the corner in front of us and yells Korean swear words at us.

We wander off, The Canadian One knowing where we are and where we’re going and pretty soon we’re safely in the bar, drinks in hand with a story to tell.

With our manic taxi driver out of sight, I ask:

‘Did you get the picture?’

We look on the phone….

The picture that got us the free cab ride

This comes second in my ‘taxi stories from Korea’ vault though. The first being the time I was in a cab with friends heading to a hostel, the cabbie got lost and drove in circles for a while before dropping us off at the police station as he didn’t know how to tell us he was lost. The police walked us to our hostel, which was just around the corner, chatted with us and posed for some souvenir pictures.

Got an interesting cab ride story, hit up the comments below! 🙂

For more posts, check out:

8 thoughts

  1. My taxi stories aren’t as interesting/crazy as this one. But the taxi drivers in China are all pretty crazy, they run through red nights and beep at pedestrians and tell them to hurry up, they park on the wrong side of the road and fall asleep at the wheel. I suppose they’d make excellent stunt drivers for their recklessness.

    1. They’re like that here too. Red lights, pedestrians, women with babies, seat belts, all a very foreign concept to them! I feel sometimes it’s like going on a rollercoaster. MAYBE things will go horribly wrong and maybe they won’t but we’ll probably go in at least two circles before arriving at our destination! You’re right though, they would make EXCELLENT stunt drivers. 🙂

  2. HEY! that was my leaving party 😦

    i had a cabbie once offer to steal namsan tower so that i could take it home as a souvenir… he spoke very good english so it wasn’t a mistranslation…

    cabbie– “Do you like Korea?”
    me– “Yea i do, it has been a great place to live.”
    cabbie– “You should have something to remember Korea when you go home. I will steal Namsan tower for you so that you may always remember Korea!”

    1. Haha, and you didn’t take him up on it Bryan? Tut tut, I’m disappointed! How cool would that have looked at check-in at the airport?

      ‘Anything to declare?’

      ‘No, but can I check in Namsan Tower or do I bring it on as carry-on?’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s