How I got dragged on the street by a Hong Kong taxi driver

People have mixed feelings about cab drivers all over the world. Like many other things, you have the good, the bad, and the ugly. I feel most of Hong Kong’s cab drivers fall under the latter. There are cities where cab drivers have a reputation for being cool, chatty, characterful, and cheerful, while there are some that lean on the quite the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve had horrible experiences in my life so far (a particularly terrible one having happened in Paris, but then again what do you expect…), but this one takes the cake.

Hong Kong’s cab drivers are absolutely hated by expats and locals alike (obviously there are exceptions – some are friendly, or civilized at the very least) for their arrogant, surly, angry, sometimes violent behavior. And once you read about my experience, you should know that mine is not an isolated case. This has happened to a Polish female friend visiting from Singapore as well (but she was lucky, she had a guy with her to protect her), and a couple of months back James chased a taxi down the road after leaving his cellphone in it – but the cab driver sped off as fast as he could down Queen’s Road Central. A huge frustration of mine is that the Hong Kong Police cannot or refuses not to do anything about any of these incidents, no matter how frequent they are. Cab drivers get away with bad behaviour so easily, and it bolsters their confidence to commit repeated, and even worse offences.

I’ve been putting off the writing writing of this for four months now because it makes me so angry every time I think about it that I can’t even bring myself to put it down in words. But now I will. Enough build up, this is how the events played out:

It was around September 16 when my sister was still here. I jumped into a cab from Sheung Wan towards Kennedy Town where I was meeting her for lunch. I told the driver “Kennedy Town” and he headed off in the right direction. But when we got to Kennedy Town, I said “Belcher’s Street” and he started abusing me. He got angry that I didn’t tell him where exactly in Kennedy Town from the beginning (well he didn’t ask – it’s his job, isn’t it?!), and refused to take me to my destination. It was only a right turn he needed to do, and he didn’t want to. I answered back, saying “turn right here”, and he said no. Then he shouted at me to get out, and pointed at the door, motioning me to get out of his cab. So I got out.

I walked off and crossed the road without paying, because at this point I didn’t believe I was obliged to do so after he 1) did not deliver the service he was supposed to give me, and 2) he abused me by screaming at me. To my shock, he ran after me and blocked me on the road. I tried to walk past him, but he didn’t allow me to. Then he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go. He said pay or he would call the police. I said no way. I offered HK$20 (it was supposed to be HK$34 or something) but he threw the money at me, literally stuffed it into my bag, and refused to accept it, saying I should pay the exact amount, no less. Then HE STARTED DRAGGING ME DOWN THE ROAD BACK TO HIS CAB. It’s unbelievable that in a global, first world city like Hong Kong you can be dragged down the street by force by a man (HE WAS SMALLER THAN ME) without anyone to help you. Nobody helped me. People were all looking, and talking to him, but absolutely nobody lifted a finger to help. He could have been a serial killer, rapist, homicidal maniac, and nobody could care less. I had to grab onto a pole in order for him not to drag me all the way back to his cab. He then grabbed my bag and almost ripped the strap, and wouldn’t let go. Then he just confiscated my bag from me.

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Now you know the face of this monster of a human being.

Anyway, the police arrived and basically took his side. They took my HKID and told me I had to pay. They only cared about one thing: that I tried to leave without paying. It’s really all just about the money in this city, it makes me want to throw up sometimes. After minutes of arguing, the police threatened to put me in prison – they even wanted to see my wallet, implying that I ran away because I didn’t have the money to pay. Unbelievable. I showed my wallet to prove that I had more than enough money, and then they gave back my HKID after the cab driver gave us the change.

Basically, the police was showing the cab driver he did exactly the right thing, that he was totally in the right, and you can drag young girls wherever the hell you want if they don’t pay you. And treat people like shit because they owe you something. Makes me furious, and in a way I’m afraid this incident has made me jaded, hardened, and bitter towards some people here, especially cab drivers. After living in Hong Kong for years now, part of me gives less of a fuck about other people because I’ve experienced so much how much people don’t give a fuck about you, and will abuse you if you let them. So you better fight for yourself and be on the offensive lest you get trampled on.

Another thing about this whole incident that really riles me is that this wouldn’t have happened to me if I had been a man – especially a bigger man. If I had been stronger, the taxi cab driver wouldn’t have been able to bully and physically harass me. Sometimes I wonder if I should have kicked him and ran – but another part feels like he would have probably beaten me up or something had I tried to do this.

Apologies for this highly negative post, but, well, life in Hong Kong isn’t all flowers and butterflies. While I love so many things about it, there’s a grittier, nastier side to things as it is everywhere. And this is it.

Would love to hear your comments – leave a reply if you have something to say, good or bad.

Oh, and if you experience a negative incident with a Hong Kong cab driver, do complain to the Transport Complaints Unit at this link : http://www.info.gov.hk/tcu/taxi/index.htm . They actually responded to my complaint, asking if I’d like to press charges, or at least file it with the police, but I said no. I would normally want to, but Hong Kong and the Philippines aren’t exactly on good terms right now, and I feel like there’s institutional racism here anyway which works against me. Maybe I’m surrendering to defeat too easily, but there’s that and I don’t want to compromise my immigration status here. So yes, I am acting out of fear and cynicism… ha!

Until the next post – x

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31 thoughts on “How I got dragged on the street by a Hong Kong taxi driver

  1. wengyan92 says:

    OMG Thats awful! I’ve never had a bad experience with HK cabs.. but then again, I don’t really take them that often… but the ones I took the last time I was in HK were really great and friendly, especially as I was totally lost so I had no idea where I actually wanted to go and the driver was really lovely and helped me find the building I needed to go to! XD

    Like

    • Yeni R says:

      I think a few factors play into it, a huge one being ability to speak Chinese, another one being the mood and then general disposition of the cab driver you happen on. I’ve had some good experiences with some taxi drivers as well, but I regret to say the bad outweigh the good 😦

      Like

  2. Sil says:

    So sad to hear this Yeni. I visited HK a few days back and they are really rude, I get to see how they treat expats and locals. Ganon ata talaga sila? So sad for this country.

    Like

  3. Ryan Merz says:

    Im sorry this happened to you. Im noticing HK taxi drivers attitude is getting worse and worse. I have been living in HK for over a year now and i have had some screaming matches with these arrogant, rude and generally bad drivers who drive very poorly and almost feel like throwing up most times. I have had to restrain myself from kicking some of their asses to avoid jail time. I have instead bought a car and a parking space and avoid taxi’s altogether Now.

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  4. Kelly says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience, I really feel for you and being physically handled like that. In an ideal world, you should have kneed him and be able to get away with it! (I know some of my female friends would have done that on the first reaction on being grabbed) It would have showed him, supposedly picking on a smaller, weaker female. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not a violent person or condone that kind of thing when unwarranted. Anyway you take care

    Like

    • Yeni R says:

      Thanks! I seriously wish I just kneed him in the balls. One year later I still get angry when I remember it, and every now and then want to file a case or something against him (I have his details). I even thought I saw him on the street the other day…

      Like

  5. Chenping says:

    Obviously, you don’t like to be pushed around. The cab driver also did not like to be pushed around. The bottom line is that he performed a service driving you to Kennedy Town as you ordered. He refused to perform a further service taking you to Bleecher’s Street. You have to pay him $34 for the ride to Kennedy Town where he dropped you.

    The cab driver had no choice but to grab your arm to prevent you from running away without paying for his service. From your photos, looks like the cab driver called the police to report your crime. If the matter was not settled on the spot by the police by making you pay for the ride, you and the cab driver could have been taken to the police station for filing a report of a crime against you. You could also file a report against the cab driver for refusing to take you to Bleecher’s Streer and mistreating you.

    In the court, the judge will find you guilty of using the cab driver’s service without paying. As for your report against the cab driver, the judge would advise you to make a complaint to the Hong Kong Transport Department and, in future, not take the law into your own hands by running away without paying for services rendered.

    Look at it this way. If your boss is not happy with the way you have been doing your work, he or she has the right to fire you but has no right to refuse to pay you for the work you had already done. If you see the reasoning, it will help you to stop being angry.

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    • Yeni R says:

      From a legal perspective you probably have a point here. From a human perspective you have a nasty person not doing his job right and in fact screaming at his customers and kicking them out of his cab without actually performing a service since he didn’t even take me where I wanted to go. Tell me in what world it would be fine to actually pay to be maltreated? Oh wait, that’s Hong Kong.

      And you clearly have some sort of bias since you already assumed it was ‘my crime’. I wonder what kind of person would see a grown man dragging a young woman on the street and say ‘ah that woman is the criminal in this situation.’ I don’t care about 34 dollars but it’s the principle of it – this guy does not deserve to be paid under any circumstance in fact just the opposite. The fact that you’re affirming that he ‘did me a service’ is a joke. What service? You mean not taking me to my destination? You mean abusing me? Screaming at me to get out? Not doing his job at all? Physically assaulting me? Was that what you meant by ‘service’?

      And since you can sympathise so much with this taxi driver you are clearly the sort of person motivated by the same reasoning which is ‘I can be as horrible to other people as long as it’s legal and basically be a c*nt because I can get away with it.’

      Like

  6. Kelly says:

    Go Yeni! I’m with you, 100%. There are parts about the legal perspective probably right but sometimes that does not paint the fair and bigger picture. And the critics never actually went through the same experience and know your feelings and what you went through. I love your passion in your defense and reasoning and I really cannot disagree with you. First about the service and treatment, bad manners, the poor arrogant and rude Hong Kong attitude (PC incorrect but called “Hongkie”) and what about physically being grabbed?! I like to see anyone defend that, especially as a young woman being treated like that and it was a female close that someone was related to. People can argue for and against either side, but let’s look at the face value and facts here. Really on your side babe and love your fight back attitude, thumbs up to you and your comment at the end had me in stitches, the C word lol (although I sympathise your plight and know where you are trying to come from)! I know it is not a laughing matter, it is concerning to you.

    But don”t let it upset you girl, I admire your stand still and super response to the last poster. Be upbeat, strong and positive which you seem to be and have. Kick ass baby! Your principles are important and there is nothing wrong with defending what you believe in. Keep up the good work, stumbled on your site but there are appears to be some cool articles which I will check up, the walks and the cycling I briefly looked into last time.

    Funny, actually my bf read and saw my last comment without reading the entire piece and said I was made out to be a bit of a bitch! But one of my friends who also read it all explained to him that figure of speech or not, the response was more for the retort that could have been made. And the kind of stand to being, literally bullied and assaulted. You even said it yourself that you thought about kicking him, and if you physically did something in return it would not like be a weak strike to the chest or feeble stomp to his foot – it would only have been one target haha. Maybe just mentally imaging yourself burying your knee in him (my friend who is a librarian, calls it a “well placed knee” :p lol which I never thought of her saying something like that) and picture him doubling over or being floored which is what would have happened! Anything physical like that against your will, and no one can have any sympathy for the offender. You still rule babe 🙂

    Like

    • Yeni R says:

      Ahaha thanks Kelly, glad to see some support even if I don’t even know you haha! 😀 And yes to not tolerating harassment no matter what from anyone. Let’s take a stand together. Have a great weekend babe xx

      Like

  7. Anjali says:

    Hi Yeni, I have stumbled on your post after I had a terrible incident last night with a taxi driver. I basically was doing a Google search to see what the complaint protocol in HK is like. I applaud your courage to stand there and take photos of this difficult human being and to be able to be strong enough not to press charges. Honestly, the minute he lay a hand on you that itself is a violation right there.

    I had a similar incident last night whereby I wanted to take a cab after work from Citibank Plaza on Garden Road to head home which is on Stubbs road, a route I take almost daily via taxi. The driver didn’t no the way and so I said no problem I can show you. In spite of giving him the right directions of going up Magazine Gap road, he insisted on taking another route which would have costed me more and he basically feigned ignorance and claimed he could not hear me even though I was leaning forward to explain the right way home. He brought me down right outside the governor’s house which is just one big circle of a route and made absolutely no sense to me and by then the meter was already showing $46 which is truly unbelievable, made me think his meter was on from before I even got in the cab. I normally do not pay more than $50 to get me to my doorstep, and here it was already $46 and I was no where near home – you can imagine my frustration at the point given that I was exhausted after a long day at work and all I wanted to do was get home and eat dinner and sleep!
    I insisted on getting out the cab and refused to pay him, he came out and started yelling at me, he was a lot bigger than me and taller too. I was quite afraid and after some yelling and shouting and threatening to call the cops, I handed him $40 and told him to get lost. That also in my opinion was a lot to give him but I felt like I was paying him just to leave me alone. He took the $40 and went back towards the driver seat. Then he gets out again and walks towards me, this time with more of a trot in his step, and started demanding I pay the exact amount of $46. I insisted no way and reiterated that I normally am able to reach home with a fare of $50. Then he goes, “Ok, you can sit in the taxi I will take you home in $50”. I then thought, wow, this guy is actually giving in and agreeing to my terms? So I say, fine, I hop back in and he starts the car only to tell me to get out a few seconds later and that he doesn’t want me as a customer. I was appalled and said sure no problem, get out of here as you have no sense of direction whatsoever and so you’re not fit to be a cab driver. I doubt he understood me but it’s what I wanted to say to him. I then hailed another cab, it was almost 9pm and I just badly wanted to get home. The fare came to exactly $50.8, as per my expectation.
    I’ve had my fair share of a mix of incidents with cab drivers, some good, some bad, but this one takes the cake and left me angry and upset over my dinner. I wish there was something I could do but I didn’t even take the license plate number down nor did I take his photo. I assume he was new to HK, which is not a big deal as I’ve had experiences before whereby the new drivers follow my directioons without any qualms. This particular driver though, was on an agenda of his own.
    I agree with you – I’m sure if I was a strong male passenger I wouldn’t have been harassed and as frazzled as I was yesterday.
    Here’s to hoping we Hong Kongers remain strong against any sort of injustice. Peace!

    Like

    • Yeni R says:

      I feel so bad to hear that Anjali. We have to have some recourse otherwise they will keep abusing passengers. Next time definitely take down his details so you can at least send a complaint to the transport department. I’m going to hold my ground next time around and I want to take kick boxing and self defence classes because I feel I actually need it here!!!!!! Haha

      Like

      • Anjali says:

        Yes, I really should’ve taken his no. down, I was just so livid at the time….haha good idea on the kick boxing…..*HK Taxi drivers beware!!*

        Like

  8. Kelly says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience Anjali. But nice to hear you and Yeni stick together! No idea this was quite a theme in HK, 2 of you in here. Great that the post was here so people can share. And try get their details, a photo, anything would help next and any time. One thing though, “I assume he was new to HK”? Er, no I’m afraid. Very unlikely. This is how the bad typical Hong Kong locals can be. Taxi drivers can want to rip off especially the expats/westerners customers. Any trick in the book, and their attitudes and behaviours can stink. What is it with grabbing and laying their hands on females?! Terrible. Agree, as soon as that, like anywhere, is way beyond the line. And after that, you have to do what you think is justified. I actually think it is still relatively safe HK when compared to overseas like Paris, London, NY etc. Not heard about people wanting to take self defense in HK but if it makes you feel better and toughen your mindset, all for it. What goes on in your head is important. Kicking, punching, bashing a punch bag can let off some steam too:) Take care ladies.

    Like

    • Dragon J says:

      Kelly, Anjali, Yeni – any of you girls ever try kicking me or some guys that don’t that thing kind of well, just be glad and hopeful you don’t get slapped or hit in return. Sometimes it seems okay for one gender to another but not the other way round.

      Like

      • Dragon J says:

        Who says you are smaller and necessarily weaker than me and some others? I just don’t like the double standards sometimes. Okay for one side and not the other. Seen and heard it a few times. Females play the game and victim role.

        Like

  9. Jason says:

    Both you and the taxi driver were complete imbeciles. You HAVE to pay the taxi regardless, and why do you expect people to help you? Hong Kong people tend be reserved. Plus the police here are definitely better than the ones in north America where you commonly hear of police brutality. You sound like such an immature child.

    Like

  10. David Graham says:

    I live in hong kong as well! i understand how you feel! I get called a guai lo (white devil) sometimes because I’m white. The taxis also watch too many hollywood movies when the actor moves the wheel from right to left quickly.

    Like

    • Yeni R says:

      You’re lucky that’s the worst that’s happened to you :)) I was shocked the other day though when the driver didn’t charge me for luggage in the boot. I tried to give him extra money and he actually REFUSED!!! wtf!?!!? A Taxi driver refusing extra money… *laughcry*

      Like

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