The Taxis of 2013 & Karma Wheel

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I’ve often said the scariest moments of my life have all been in taxis. Well there haven’t been any really bad ones in 2013, but there have certainly been some taxi encounters.

Of course you have to get ripped off by a taxi driver somewhere in your travels and my best episode was in Naples in Italy. Good place to encounter a driver on the fiddle, right? Maureen and I set off from the Naples train station to the Capri ferry pier, but the meter had already gone there and half way back before we moved. We argued about it and the fare was halved, which still left it way over the odds.

Dawa & Karma Wheel - 271Most of my other taxi encounters around Europe, Asia, North America (the USA) and South America (Colombia and Chile) were totally straightforward but my year’s best taxi encounter was in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Francisco. In a previous lifetime my driver, Dawa Lama, was a trekking Sherpa in Nepal so I’ve walked with him in the Himalaya. Then he got on the wrong side of the Maoists who, from time to time, have caused chaos in Nepal and he ended up in the USA. So if you ever need a ride on the east side of the San Francisco Bay just call Karma Wheel – 1 510 712 7030.

◄ Dawa Lama and his Karma Wheel





In London, where I spend part of each year, I remain a big fan of the Hailo taxi app. I wish it also operated in Melbourne, where I also spend part of the year. This last couple of weeks I’ve made a lot of Melbourne taxi rides and it has often not been a happy experience. Of course they often don’t know where they’re going, but that’s often the way it is in big international cities today, when many of the drivers are recent arrivals. No problem, I know where I’m going in Melbourne. No, Melbourne’s problem is the drivers often just don’t turn up. You book them way ahead and by the time the appointed hour has arrived you’ve been forgotten. Or you call them when you actually need one and wait forever. And where have I been riding to? The Melbourne Ring Cycle, more on that tomorrow.