Wu Te-jen (吳德仁), a driver with Taiwan Taxi Corp, installed a karaoke set — a Father’s Day present from his three children five years ago — to provide amusement for himself and his passengers.
Since then, Wu has seen more than half of his passengers grabbing the microphone and singing — a good way of passing the time during their ride.
The karaoke facilities have charmed not only local riders, but also foreign visitors.
A Japanese backpacker who visited Taiwan at the end of last year and chanced upon Wu’s cab was so amazed he took pictures of the karaoke equipment and posted them on the Web when he returned to his country.
The photographs sparked an instant frenzy and heated online discussion among Japanese netizens, with a Japanese variety show sending a crew to Taiwan in February to shoot Wu’s karaoke taxi.
“All of the songs in my karaoke are copyrighted and are updated every month. There are more than 10,000 songs in Mandarin, Taiwanese, English and Japanese in my song library, covering a wide range of genres from pop songs to good-old classics — and even lullabies,” Wu said.
Wu said he usually plugs in a pop song or a classic favorite before a rider boards his taxi. About two in 10 people would respond with a pause, then ask for the microphone, he said.
As for those who dare not take the initiative, about five of them would start singing after a little encouragement, Wu said.
Compared with Taiwanese, foreigners are more willing to sing in his taxi — especially Japanese, who normally sing all the way until they get off, Wu said.
“I would recommend various types of songs to passengers of different ages or nationalities based on my years of experience,” he said, adding that his equipment, including a tambourine, a bass stereo set and flashing LED lights, could compete with any karaoke booth.
However, Taipei City Police Department has said that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is initiating amendments that would ban all types of audio and visual equipment in a vehicle.
If passed, that could mean the end of Wu’s karaoke taxi.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff writer