Thursday, February 26, 2009

All The Fun Of The Fare

Deep In The Heart Of Taxis

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I’ve caught taxis in many parts of the world, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across a taxi company that extends such a colourful welcome - or a more enthusiastic, visible greeting - to prospective passengers.

These shots were taken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last July, when the entire Authorblog family escaped the Melbourne winter and jumped on a plane to spend ten days in the tropics.

I was eleven years old when we visited Singapore for the first time and I remember being fascinated by the share-taxi concept that existed on the route from the city centre to Bukit Timah. You got into the cab and waited for three other passengers and as soon as they had materialised, the cab driver would get going. Because it was a fixed route, you paid a fixed fare, too.

That was a big deal for me, because the cabs that plied the route were big, majestic diesel Mercedes-Benz sedans. The first time I sat in one, I could barely believe my luck because it was the first time I had ever sat in a Benz. Man, did I have some stories to tell my envious classmates when I got back home.

I also remember vividly the self-closing doors of the silver-and-red taxis in another former British colony, Hong Kong. As soon as we got in I would reach for my seatbelt with one hand and the door handle with the other - but the door would swing closed. It was not immediately that I realised the cab driver was activating a switch that was closing the passenger door!

Both these shots were taken on the move. In KL. The first shot was taken on the long, scenic drive from the international airport to the Shangri-La hotel in the city. I saw the welcoming sticker on the door of a cab that pulled up alongside us at a traffic light - and quickly angled this shot before the lights changed.

The second shot (below) was taken as we walked along a busy footpath in the city centre a few days later. I could see the cab approaching in the lane closest to me and I knew the driver would have to slow down for a set of traffic lights.

I had my 18-125mm lens on the camera, so I composed a neat, tight frame and set the speed accordingly. Then I tracked the cab, allowing the camera lens to follow its path - and simply hit the shutter as soon as the cab was where I wanted it.

(Extra, extra, read all about it: I've been interviewed here. Thank you to all those who have followed this link and checked out the interview. There have been so many wonderful comments that I've tried to reply to each one personally - but you're setting a cracking pace. My humble and heartfelt thanks to all of you for the wonderful tributes and thoughts you have shared on the interview.)


For earlier posts in this series, check out The Doors Archive.

31 comments:

Daryl said...

darn, there's a ding on the door ...

Daryl said...

Check out this door ...

http://www.nyc-daily-photo.com/

Maggie May said...

Makes a change from some of the grumpy taxi drivers over here!
Didn't mean it..... if any of you are taxi drivers or married to one!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Lovely, lovely: juicy coloured taxi doors, yes i know I'm shallow. Thank you David! Brilliant commentary too.

French Fancy said...

Lovely blue doors

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

P.S. 'Juicy coloured' doesn't actually make sense of course, but you know what I mean.

ArneA said...

Your popularity will not decrease through this interview

skywind said...

Photo very good, reflecting the local style. As Hong Kong's taxi carried device. I think it might be to prevent looting.

http://eyesinkaleidoscope.blogspot.com/
http://fymtyh.blogspot.com/

Jazz said...

How cool is that. I take it the drivers aren't as surly as they are here in North America.

Shape said...

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Mojo said...

A fine looking couple of doors indeed (except for the already-mentioned chip in the paint of the one that is). I'm guessing that the text in the sign is just two translations of the same welcome?

I had a car door shot I was considering, but decided to save it for another day. Glad I did now, so we keep some variety in the mix.

But you could stretch a point (not that I ever do that) and say there's a transportation theme in this one:
The Doors #2: "Student Housing"

Happy to see the theme expanding! The potential here is truly limitless.

Willow said...

When I saw the sign (and read it and understood it in both languages), I wondered, Are there Indonesian taxi drivers in Melbourne? and then I thought, Oh maybe David was in Jakarta. I had forgotten you had gone to Malaysia. Selamat jalan!

RiverPoet said...

Oh great, now I'm going to be humming "Deep in the Heart of Texas" all day!

You know, I grew up in Texas, and I remember us having to sing that doggone song in music class all the time. They would make us really get into the chorus...ugh. What a weird place Texas is. Way too much state pride, but it was my home state, so I knew no different.

Peace - D

Artist Unplugged said...

Those are really brightly colored taxis. Over here, ours are boring, all yellow, never look new. I've only had one taxi ride my whole life and that was in Las Vegas.....

Steph said...

Because your photos and stories make me think, I've given you an award. You can pick it up on my blog.

Sarah Laurence said...

I love the share taxi concept – green and economical. Thanks for a view around the world.

That DVD story was funny below.

Here’s a post I’d like to nominate for your post of the day: http://jandrgardenblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/one-year-ago-today.html

Jeremy Weber said...

That is quite a blessing.
Make sure that you don't display those expectations all over hte world...you will have a rude awakening if you come to NYC...haha.

jweb

Tranquility said...

A Mercedes-Benz Taxi? WOW!
Lucky travelers!

Ana said...

Hi, wish u great day...
thanks for comments at my poetry about tears. its good feel:)
i saw this taxi,When u'll visit to Indonesia?..:)

Tumblewords: said...

It looks like fun!

Sandi McBride said...

I've also been on many a taxi ride...the roughest one was in Rome...I was sure I was going to die...he nearly ran down a NUN for pity's sake...the most exciting was in New York...heading to the airport to go to London...and the most tranquil taxi ride? The quaint black box known as the London Cab...ah, I'd climb in those deep depths time and again!
Great post...as usual!
Sandi

Muppet Soul said...

Mercedes???

WOW.

I've traveled but I pale in comparison to you.

This sort of thing makes me want to be a gypsy.

Dear AL said...

David, your post makes me miss the big yellow cabs of New York City. They were old, but as a kid I loved riding them, the exhaust smell, and sitting on the fold out stools behind the front seats.

SandyCarlson said...

Those colors are fun and welcoming, to be sure.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

love that color green.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Now I'll know I'm not being sworn at if someone says Jamput Naik to me!

Eaton Bennett said...

This is my first look at your blog, just love all your doors. My favorite is the door on your link button. :)

Jeremy Lavine said...

Yes, Taxis. I've rode my fair share, but not the last one. Not all the way home. Because a certain person wouldn't stop touching my leg, so I jumped out!

Anyway, great photography, David!

M said...

I love the flqat rate taxi fares...they are like that in Costa Rica...but you dont' have to wait for 4 persons to get a ride.

Cool pics!

Poutalicious said...

I'm depressed because they are eliminating my job at work; I actually stayed home yesterday. Anyway, this door actually cheered me up and I have to ask you to go and see it! It's so good, I promise you will be glad you did.
http://www.nyc-daily-photo.com/2009/02/126-front-street.html

Daryl said...

Three must be the charm .. here's my Door .. http://onthem104.blogspot.com/2009/02/winterthe-doors.html