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The Only Way to Travel

On Tuesday night, following the U.S. women's team's 2-2 with North Korea here in Chengdu, USA Today reporter Sal Ruibal and I decided to bolt the stadium and get our work done back at the hotel. Taxis are omnipresent and very cheap, and with a Sheraton on the stadium grounds, we figured we could stroll over and catch a cab without a problem. Well, there was a problem. Actually, two problems: rain (which, like in America, heightens the demands for taxis) and road closures around the stadium.

The bellboy told us we would have to walk a block or two to find a taxi. Okay, we could do that. With a 12-hour time difference to Washington, I had about three days to file my story for the print edition. Sal had online demands, so he was in a greater hurry. Anyway, we made our way down a closed side street to a busy boulevard only to find all 8,000 taxis occupied.

There was only one realistic option: pedicab (or cycle rickshaw). The "driver" wanted 30 yuan, which is three times more than a taxi would cost but since we were not going to flag down one of those until Friday, we agreed to the fee (which is the equivalent of only about four dollars). So two big Americans (combined weight 380 pounds) squeezed onto the seat and held their laptop bags for dear life as a slight Chinese man weaved through traffic, dodged pedestrians and lethal umbrellas, splashed through pond-sized puddles, rang his cranky warning bell, labored to climb crosswalk inclines and maintained balance when the rocking vehicle seemed sure to fall over and drop us through the sewer grate.

Ten blocks, 20 minutes and a few too many near-death experiences later, we arrived safe and sound.

Sometimes the simplest endeavors turn into the richest experiences.

The adventure continues.....

By Steve Goff  |  September 11, 2007; 9:00 PM ET
Categories:  Women  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: On Soccer Players and Marathons
Next: U.S. Thoughts


I hope you tipped well!

Posted by: Winoman | September 11, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like you needed Mike Wise with you!

Posted by: Kim | September 11, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Tuk Tuk baby

Posted by: EssEff | September 11, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, rickshaw drivers....I wonder if they could run a Marathon with no training...

Posted by: JkR | September 12, 2007 12:02 AM | Report abuse

JkR, Marathon? With that bicycle training, try the Ironman Triathlon.

Posted by: B.A. | September 12, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I just went to China a few months ago, and I too had many expierences just like the one you described. One day in Xi'an I was turned down by literally 7 cabs simply because my hotel was too close... too close being about ten blocks. Basically the fair would have ended up being about 12 yuan (the meter starts at ten) and I guess no one wanted to bother witht the dumb american. Finally cab #8 was areal cool guy and I got back to the hotel just in time to catch DC at Toronto. Ahh the wonders of Internet TV...

Posted by: Chris | September 12, 2007 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah also Goff... feel lucky that you haven't had to experience breaking an axel on a highway in between Shanghai and Hong Zou.... lets just say roadside assistance in China has a long way to go...

Posted by: Chris | September 12, 2007 1:57 AM | Report abuse

10 blocks? Just like a Washingtonian. A New Yorker wouldn't have thought twice to hoof it.

Posted by: Viv | September 12, 2007 2:02 AM | Report abuse

10 blocks? Just like a Washingtonian. A New Yorker wouldn't have thought twice to hoof it.


Under normal circumstances, yes. But in a hurry with computer equipment and supplies in the rain in an unfamiliar city, I'll take the cab.

Posted by: Goff | September 12, 2007 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Fun story to read; brother Phil could probably get a job in Chengdu pedaling pedicabs! Thanks

Posted by: Ceil | September 12, 2007 7:14 AM | Report abuse

JkR, Marathon? With that bicycle training, try the Ironman Triathlon.

Posted by: B.A. | September 12, 2007 12:15 AM


I think you missed it. See Steinberg's blog entry on marathons and DCU.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I took a tour around Hanoi in pedi-cabs last December... apparently my wife's pedi-cab didn't have a horn on it, but that didn't bother her driver, as he would just say, "Bep, Bep, Bep, Bep", really softly whenever he needed a horn.

The funny thing was, I was right behind them in my pedi-cab and he was saying it so quietly, and the streets themselves were so noisy, that it took me 10 minutes or more to figure out that it was him making the sound.

Awesome, but scary form of travel. Especially when your sitting in the front of a pedi-cab and your cyclist is riding behind you. You get a very close-up view of car bumpers and scooter tires which can be a bit disconcerting at times.

Posted by: swwj | September 12, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Great story, Goff Keep them coming....Sound like the Tuk Tuk in Bangkok to me! I had similar experiences there and i am always amazed how these guys find a way to beat the traffic!

Posted by: Charles | September 12, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

so jealous - but so glad you are over there. let it fly Steve, so much more than soccer to report!

Posted by: Adam Spangler | September 12, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Was it a metered fare or zone? :-)

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 12, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

What Goff said. I had the same issues actually...

Posted by: Chris | September 12, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"10 blocks? Just like a Washingtonian."

A real Washingtonian would have driven his Hummer H2 those 10 blocks, knocking over pedestrians and rickshaws in the process. Failing to find any parking at his destination, he would have driven back and only then take the cab.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 12, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the great coverage, both soccer-related and other. Hope you're enjoying your time, jet lag notwithstanding.

U.S. soccer fans and Post readers are lucky to have you in China. Thanks again for making WWC '07 a priority.

Posted by: Amy | September 12, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Steve, that Sal must be a skinny-lookin' dude at 110 pounds.

: )

Posted by: Joe Doc | September 12, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Nice story; glad you lived through it.

Posted by: stuart | September 12, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Haha - sounds like an interesting experience. Guess you'll not forget that ride anytime soon.

Posted by: Michelle | September 28, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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