Don’t lie to me, mate…


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It’s apparently against the law for taxis in Penang island not to use their meters.  But they will always say they don’t have one and no amount of arguments will help you if you are a tourist.

The other day it started raining and I was contemplating catching a cab because there was a rank nearby.

When I asked “With the meter, yeah?” the driver was like “ooohh no.  I don’t have a meter.” Then quoted me a ridiculous price.

“I know it’s the law here that you need to use your meter,” I snapped back.

He pauses for a minute, then goes “oooohh no, that hasn’t come in yet. Next year.”

I cross my arms and lift an eyebrow.

He figures I need more proof.  He points to a sign in Malay.

“That sign says it.  Not… until… next… year!” He points at the (alleged) words as he says them, like you would if you were teaching a child to read.

Bad move buddy.  Bahasa Melayu (Malay) and Bahasa Indonesia are about 85-90 percent the same.  Plus, I watch a lot of Star World and on all the cable channels in Indonesia, the subtitles are in Malay anyway.

“Aku bisa membaca bahasa Malayu, Pak. (I can read Malay, sir).   That sign says that it is forbidden for taxis to take passengers without using their meter.  It doesn’t say ‘tahun depan’ (next year) anywhere on it.”


“So with a meter?”

“No, it’s broken.”

I ended up walking, as a matter of principle.

One Response to " Don’t lie to me, mate… "

  1. Sara says:

    G00d f0r you! I guess it’s a variation of in Jakarta where quite a number of taxi drivers pretend not to have change. Got a very short taxi ride late at night from Koi to my house, and it only came to Rp. 5500. I gave the driver Rp. 20,000 and requested 10,000 back. He said he didn’t have any change, so I rummaged in my wallet and came up with 8,500 (5,000 note plus coins), which he actually threw back at me demanding 10,000, threatening not to go anywhere until I paid up. So I left exactly5,500, calling him “crazy” (I think, anyway, my Indonesian is sketchy). It was an unpleasant, petty incident… felt like a battle of principles, like with your taxi guy. Neither wanted to bend, having decided firmly how they were going to go about things, even if it leads to them losing out.