A driver can equally say no to a destination no matter your offer price – because he does’t feel like it. One taxi driver heard ‘German Embassy’ and took me behind the ‘Japanese Embassy’ that I wanted to go to and apologised profusely before circling back even though I could have walked 5 minutes to get where I needed to go.Another driver might volunteer a low price because he feels like it. There’s no reason why one driver said no and the one behind says yes, so just keep trying if you know you have a fair price. Another taxi driver apologised for getting into a traffic jam (which the entire city was in by rush hour).
To travellers and visitors, these one or two outposts may not even be noticeable.
However, the lack of a tourism industry that exists in the rest of South-East Asia is refreshing; locals do not approach you to hawk wares or entice you for a tour; if they do, it’s truly because they’re curious and want to chat or help.
Give them a tin box with a pedal and a steering wheel, and they’ll make it work. If you dare, ride on one of the public buses for 200 Kyat (US$0.20) for any length of the route.
The public buses are relics from the 70s in Japan, Thailand and Korea.
When they finally figured it out and couldn’t fix it, they phoned their friends, then they took me next door to another shop where the owner did speak a bit of English and tried again to help.
It’s not one isolated case, so try to get your point across not by speaking more loudly, but by being more creative. Taxis have no meter, so the price is what ever the driver wants. Yes, it can be that they see you’re a foreigner and want to make an extra bit, but they also negotiate with locals.
As such, most steering wheels are still on the right, and a significant number that aren’t.
Either way, the taxi drivers, and especially the bus drivers, have a lot of character.
You may find a door (or not), wooden floor boards, a TV, hard bench or a coach seat, and handrails of all shapes and sizes.