Cab drivers gone wild…

Man oh man, I’ve had quite the experience with cab drivers in Kuala Lumpur over the past couple of days. Yesterday afternoon while switching from the Le Meridien to the InterContinental, I got rather nervous as the cab driver seemed to be driving in circles (and I believe it to be true, since the fare was double that of what it was in the other direction the previous day) and was constantly talking into his walkie talkie while giving me what I perceived to be a pretty strange look. Eventually we started talking, and he said that he wasn’t actually a cab driver, but his friend who is a cab driver was sick, so he was just filling in. He said he was an executive at Pepsi.

Then I was planning on meeting a friend that was staying at the Novotel for dinner, so I asked the friendly bellman if he knew where the Novotel was. He said “of course,” got me a cab, and told the cab driver where I was going. To confirm I said to the cab driver “we’re going to the Novotel, right?” He said “yea, yea, Nova hotel.” Okay, I figured we were talking about the same thing, given that his English wasn’t very good.

It was supposed to be a 10 minute ride but took over an hour due to the awful weather and traffic as a result, though eventually he dropped me off. He explained that the hotel was one block to the right, but he’d have to drive around the block in the other direction to get me there, so suggested I just walk as it would be faster. Despite the pouring rain I agreed. I spent half an hour (in the pouring rain) looking for the Novotel, and eventually asked a local where it is. They pointed to the building a couple of blocks away, so I went there. As it turns out, it was the Hotel Nova. FML.

In the pouring rain I tried to hail a cab, though after trying a few different ones no one knew where the Novotel was. Now, I’m an idiot, I should have written down the address, but I’ve never had an issue with a bellman telling the driver directions, especially after I confirm it with them. So since no one knew where the Novotel was and it was pouring rain, I headed back to the InterContinental.

I had yet another interesting cab ride, the only part of which I’ll share is the cab driver guessed that I was 38 years old. Again, FML.

Now I’m quite looking forward to my flight on Sri Lankan Airlines as the next portion of my journey begins.

And I can promise that I’ll post one of the coolest darn pictures ever in the next 12 hours. Guaranteed, or I’ll refund your monthly subscription fee.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I have been charged three times for this month’s subscription! I call consumer affairs during business hours and they hang up on me! Outrage!


    JOSH brother.

  2. Do you have an iPhone/Android device? I use the OpenMaps app, and it has saved me multiple times. It’s a free/open-source map program that allows you to download maps to your phone and save them there, instead of the built-in Google Maps app that requires continuous (expensive when traveling) internet connection.

    So I mark the places I’ll be visiting (airport, hotel, businesses, restaurants, etc) then I can use the built-in GPS with those maps to be sure I’m headed in the right direction. I’ve corrected cab drivers a couple times when they “missed” a turn.

    It does require some work on the front end (even more than writing down the address), but the peace of mind it gives me while in a cab in the rain is priceless.

  3. I grew up in Penang. It was awesome. Arguing with taxi drivers about the fare was the best part. Buses are even more sketchy, you pretty much have to hope that they come.

  4. Hilarious! Perhaps your best post ever. Happens to the best of us. Once in Paris, the taxi driver took me to Le Meridien, as opposed to Le Marriott. It was totally my fault as I was trying to show off my French speaking skills and got the accents all wrong, thus turning a Marriott into a Meridien.

  5. Those aggraviating, and sometimes scary, experiences are what makes travel so much fun!! Imagine when you are actually 38 and saying to your kids “Let me tell you about the time in KL…..” you will really love all the craziness.


  6. Cab drivers are notorious in big cities. I bet you have no experience in Cairo, after which you will never complain.

  7. Cab Drivers Gone Wild? I don’t think it will take off as a successful spin-off to GG Wild.

  8. Dude, you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve been in a Hanoi cab and watched the meter just start skyrocketing faster than our national debt!

    I carry my Garmin GPS (backcountry model) with me. You can find OpenSource maps for much of the world, and even if you don’t have a local map, you can still watch the ‘bread crumbs’ on the screen and make sure you’re not going in circles.

    No way I would go to the developing world without a GPS — and no, phone-based GPS’s don’t count. You want something that will let you set waypoints so that you can always get back to your hotel, airport, car, etc.

    If you’re going to explore the developing world, this is the way to go.

  9. After traveling throughout Asia, I’d have to say that the drivers in KL are the worst. Haven’t been to Egypt, so I can’t comment on what others have said, but the last cab ride I took in Malaysia consisted of the driver knocking off the side mirrors of three different parked cars, clipping a motorcyclist and then demanding a tip for “speedy service”.

  10. Cabs in KL usually will quote a price about 2-3x normal else take a roundabout route.. though it’s all fairly cheap still. Best advice I got – get a card from the hotel with a small map and directions in the local language.. else get them to write out in the local language the address of the place. That usually works.. although sometimes even if they know where to go you’ll still may be taken a longer route.. gotta add the ‘American tax.’

  11. I had to look up FML also… thought it stood for ‘Family Medical Leave’…

    Lucky’s not the nautical type, so I don’t think the lighthouse one applies, though his posts are a beacon to many of us.

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