Every year at exactly the same time something changes on the city’s streets. Just past New Year’s Eve, taxis, normally everywhere, suddenly become scarce commodities (or at least pretend to be!)
What happens next?
Chaos erupts in the streets! Roving hordes of revelers, having had enough partying, walk down the middle of busy roads attempting to flag down a taxi. The nightlife areas become a free-for-all with people practically jumping in front of cabs, desperate for a ride.
Instead of pulling up and allowing passengers to get in, the taxis often want to know where you’re going, and then they’ll quote you an exorbitant price. (What a pleasant way to ring in the new year, by price gouging!)
This routine brings back fond memories from Seoul. On any given night you can go through a similar trial. Taxis will slow down and ask you where you want to go, but only take you if they’re interested in heading in that direction!
Back in Hong Kong, I opted to extricate myself from this situation entirely. What many people don’t realize is that the MTR runs 24 hours on January first. Instead of fighting for a cab, attempting to negotiate a deal, and being stuck in traffic, I opted to take the train from Kowloon station at 3am and got to Central quickly, with no hassle.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and the very best in 2010!