Some taxi drivers in Jakarta are just plain stupid. However, the one I had last week, topped all I have encountered so far. One or two “so called mistakes” are, in my eyes, acceptable, but even after I show I understand and can talk (taxi) Indonesian, and after I clearly explained where to go and how to get there, demonstrating I know the route exactly, this guy kept on trying and trying to rip me off. The story is as follows:
It was about seven in the morning. I had to go to Plaza Aminta in Cilandak, (very) South-Jakarta. I asked the receptionist to call a green taxi from the pool at our apartment and promptly a taxi arrived at the lobby entrance. I got in, and after exchanging the usual good mornings the driver asked me where I wanted to go. When I told him: “Plaza Aminta”, I am used to the puzzled looks, so I immediately added: “TB Simatupang”. Most of the taxi drivers can deduct from that information that they have to go south. Not this one. He kept on looking at me in a puzzled way. I knew exactly how to go there, so I told him that is near Pondok Indah Mall and that we had to pass that mall to get there. At least this triggered some kind of recognition and the taxi started moving.
When we arrive at the exit of the apartment complex, he asked if I want to go left or right. This was a plausible question, since we can go both ways to go south. I told him to go right (to normal Jakarta and Indonesian standards, going right often means going left and make a u-turn at some point). I saw his puzzled looks showing again, so I explained via which route I wanted to reach my destination: first to Semanggi, take Sudirman to Senayan, than pass Blok M Plaza and from there via Radio Dalam to Pondok Indah. It was easy, I thought. The was guy is so puzzled by my explanation that he did not see that the car in front of him stopped so it was unavoidable that he hit it (speeds where under 30 km per hour, traffic tends to get kinda slow at that time-well traffic can get slow at any time, anywhere in Jakarta). The woman in the hit car drove on and I noticed there was no damage to her car. The taxi driver however insisted to get her on the site, to assess the damage. After some horn blowing and light signaling, the car finally pulled over at a quiet spot. The driver got out of the taxi to look at the (none existing) damage (the meter is still running). After a minute or so, he got in the taxi again and started driving.
Again he asked my instructions. I again explained the route, but he still seemed to be oblivious of where to go and how to get there. I suspected he was just trying to trick me, so told him bluntly to go to Sudirman first, via Semanggi. “OK, mister” he said in a jolly way. At least he knew Sudirman and Semanggi.
Arriving at Semanggi, he suddenly took a left turn, and before I realized it, he was on his way to Sudirman, yes, but up north. I told him this was the wrong way. I knew he could still take a left turn later to get back to the road we where before. But he was (deliberately?) stalling by telling me: “this is Sudirman, you told me to go to Sudirman!”. I got a little angry with him and said we were supposed to go to South-Jakarta, pass Blok M, and we were going north. Of course we already passed the opportunity to go left and minimize the damage. The taxi driver said he was sorry and he would make a u-turn as soon as possible. I knew that a few kilometers up north was a place where we could go of Sudirman and pass under it to go back on Sudirman at the other side. But the taxi driver didn’t think that was as soon as possible enough, so when we passed the point where we could turn back, I asked him quiet rudely where he was going to make the u-turn. He said he was going to do it at Bundaran HI, about another kilometer up north. I told him he was not fit to be a taxi driver, because he missed the point where we could turn back, and he didn’t know how to go to South-Jakarta all together. I also asked him to drop me at Plaza Indonesia where I would take a decent taxi. He dropped me in front of Plaza Indonesia. I paid the fair (33000 Rp sharp) and no tip, and all the time he kept on saying he was sorry.
Well, I am not sure he was sorry, but this time I made a complaint about him at his head office and they told me he was going to get a warning. I don’t know if that will happen though. After this incident, I always order the blue taxis from the well know group with the bird. At least, their drivers stop trying to trick you after they know you know your way around in Jakarta.