I know the name of my hostel, Angala, but not where it is.
I figure that the taxi driver should know that part. But when my driver pulls up halfway down a darkened street, I can’t see my hostel anywhere. He insists that we’re at the right place but I feel like he owes me more than this for ¥10.
I refuse to get out, so he drives on and sees a woman waiting for a ride. He stops to pick her up, and, while driving her to her destination, asks if she knows where ‘Angala’ is. She points to the place that we’ve just come from. These people must think I’m a sucker! As this woman is obviously in on the scam, I decline his offer to go back to the place that we just came from and tell him to take me to ‘Angala’.
We drive on a little further. We come across another taxi. My driver toots and winds down his window, to talk to the other driver. He asks him where ‘Angala’ is, but, after looking at me, the other driver still has no idea.
We drive on and come to a taxi rank. Surely somebody here knows their way around this town? But no-one can help and his difficult situation only serves to amuse the other drivers. I’m not sure what to do, it’s cold outside and after all the turns and u-turns I’m seriously doubtful that I could find the hostel now, on my own.
With no other option, the driver takes me back to the first stop. The street is still dark, and the place he is pointing out doesn’t look like the daytime photo from booking.com. I should be seeing gold letters on a red background, but perhaps their hues have been swallowed by the night.
As we awkwardly wait there, there is some movement in the foyer and a door opens. We both get out. The driver asks a helpful young lady about the hostel. She tells him that it’s the right place, and confirms to me that it is indeed the Angala International Youth Hostel.
Apparently ‘Angala’ means ‘England’ and the Chinese pronunciation is actually ‘Angha’. I unload my bags and sheepishly thank the driver. For some reason he doesn’t try to recover the full ¥19 fare. Perhaps he is just glad to see the back of me.