Lesson’s From A Taxi Driver In Malaysia
Taxi drivers can make or break a journey can’t they? They can be informative and helpful, or totally over their whole day, traffic and people included! Our plan was to catch a train, however, a taxi driver spied us after we checked out of the hotel and inquired how we were getting to the airport? He told us the train was too expensive and a fare with him would be much cheaper. OK I thought, I’ll take the bate, and asked how much it would be for a taxi. He advised it would be 60 Ringitts, straight away I knew we were in front!
Kevin offered 50 as we had already purchase the taxi ticket for 12. Of course the banter started, he suggesting he had to pay many toll fares and that he might not pick up another fare back from the airport to the city. After the taxi driver having a bash for 55, we stuck to our guns at 50 and he said “alright 50, let’s go!” He turned out to be the best taxi driver for the whole trip!
During the 45 minute ride we learnt quite a bit about Malaysia from him. Their exports, the largest being oil, followed by palm oil, tourism and timber. We learnt that the government some decades ago had made a decision to create a good infrastructure for its people, and it has clearly accomplished that mission.
There is evidence everywhere, a great highway system, (almost) free hospital system, with a small charge of just 1 Ringitt (31c) for a Drs visit and 3 Ringitts (93c) for a prescription, and the evidence of construction and many cars on the road as against motorbikes as I have mentioned in a previous post.
Malaysia still relies on expatriates for some industries, mainly in management for corporates. The cost of living is rising and there is help for the unemployed. Not in the form of handouts from the government, but in assistance in obtaining a job. They are willing to provided some education and assistance, stomping out serial generations of the jobless just like Australia has witnessed. A great idea, agreed by all three of us in the swapping of information between our countries.
I was most interested in learning about the respect and tolerance that I witnessed in the community on my visit to Malaysia. Our taxi driver advised he learnt from his parents that he must “communicate with others in very good manners”. When I asked if this is a common practice amongst all families in Malaysia, his answer was in the affirmative.
“Of course” he said in a manner that it was a forgone conclusion or “A given” as we would describe it. He added “We live in a multi-cultural society, everybody has to get on and live in harmony. I had witnessed that philosophy everywhere in Malaysia.
“No racism” he added, “There is none here, none, even tho our country has had a violent past.” This was evident to me on my first day there, especially noticeable with young women in a group. Perhaps one or two women wearing a burka and the other women not.
That also was apparent for anyone in the service industry, I think their motto is “To Serve” as that is what we experienced from the airport, to the hotels to the restaurants. The staff were there to provide a service and are happy to do so.
Many young Muslim women discreetly glanced my way many times, most exchanging a few smiles back and forth. I would have loved to sat and chatted with them learning about their culture and their country, as we had the pleasure of doing with our taxi driver.
All too soon we reached the airport terminal, safely delivered via taxi rather than train. It was great to arrive at LCCT relaxed rather than rushed and the bonus of our taxi driver sharing information is invaluable.
There were a few times when I wanted to inquire why he was driving a taxi, as he had such a command and understanding of English. Manners stopped me, so I remained silent rather than being nosy! The reason I wanted to ask, was, he held a great conversation about world affairs and knew quite a bit about Australian politics, one of Kevin’s favourite subjects! I’m pretty sure he hadn’t been a taxi driver all his life!
Our plane to Kuala Terengganu, the next leg of trip, was delayed by an hour due to the weather earlier in Kuala Lumpur. A storm had passed through so flights had been banked up, causing delays. We were a little concerned that the trip from the Kuala Terengganu airport to the ferry terminal would be a mad rush.
We made the ferry…only just, due to the sloooowest taxi driver, what a contrast! He sat behind the slowest of trucks, got caught in traffic jambs and red lights! Time was ticking, so we asked him how long to the ferry explaining we had to make the last ferry at 3 o’clock as we were booked into The Tarras on Redang island.
“Tomorrow 10am too” he said waving his hands around, “no tomorrow” we said “Today” (Would we make it to The Tarras I wondered)?. He seemed to push his beaten up car a little more after that, no doubt it was a great car in its heyday but it was sure showed signs that it needed to retire quite some years previous!
The ferry trip from Kuala Terengganu to Redang is just 1 hour and if you are really lucky they will play a really bad, old, Burt Renolds movie that has been dubbed in Malaysian with English subtitles!
Have I mentioned the air conditioning fetish that goes on in Malaysia? The plane and ferry were ice cold, even Kevin complained about the ferry and how cold it was!
Some stores that we visited in Kuala Lumpur were that cold I had to walk outside to warm up! I think there is a secret national competition running for who has the coldest air conditioning in Malaysia!
Have you had a great experience with a taxi driver? Where in the world did that take place? Let me know in the comments below!