Tonight I had (one of) the most terrifying taxi rides I've ever had anywhere... I'm writing about it right away.
First of all, taxis are always around when you don't need them. They'll honk at you while you're walking or stop in the road to see if you want to get in. On the other hand, when you do need a taxi, they're nowhere in sight. That happened this evening. My coworker and I are walking walking walking... No taxi. Keep walking. Still no luck. Finally we spot one in the distance driving the other way. That's ok though because drivers don't have a problem making a U-turn in the middle of the street to pick up a rider. So that's what our driver does... only he U-turns into (visible) oncoming traffic.
That would be the sound of the collision he had with another vehicle. (First accident I've seen first-hand in Korea.) Meanwhile, another available taxi drives past. The taxi and the car he hit pull over. I feel terrible because in a way, I caused the accident by needing the drive to make a U-turn in the first place. The drivers get out, exchange words and assess damage and get back in their respective cars. The driver says "kwen chen nah yo" ("that's ok" in Korean) and beckons for us to get in.
I tell the driver where to go (E-Mart, it's a big department store comparable to Wal-Mart). It's a very well known place in the area and there's a short cut from my little residential area to where the store is. The driver missed the short cut. So he goes a different way which required him making two more U-turns. For one U-turn he had to block both lanes of traffic so he could reverse, and almost reversed into a truck going the opposite direction. The next U-turn he nearly side swiped another vehicle in the next lane over.
I'm in the back seat and can't see much of the action in front, thankfully, but my stomach is in knots anyways. I can see the store, whew. Ohp! Missed the entrance... Which only means one more U-turn... And finally we arrive in one piece. The ride was only 7 minutes longer and $1 more expensive than it needed to be.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a good driver but I'm sure I'm better than this guy. Watch out, Korea!