Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday search challenge (2/26/14): How do I tell where I want to go?

I'm traveling this week, so I might be a little slow in posting your responses, but that makes me think of a travel-related challenge...

Suppose I've just landed at JNB and I need to get somewhere in a hurry.  I'd like to take a taxi, but it seems so complicated!  It's almost as though you need to communicate in another language just to get around.  

Today's challenge (this sounds crazy--but trust me, there's an answer out there): 

1.  I want to take a taxi to Orange Farm.  What special things do I have to do to hail a taxi there from JNB airport?  
2.  Can you find a statue that tells you how to get to the Central Business District using this unorthodox language?  

Search on! 


  1. Good Morning, Dr. Russell, fellow




    JNB also known as: Tambo International Airport.


    [Orange Farm]

    To verify if you really are in South Africa.

    [How to hail taxi in JNB]
    [Johannesburg taxi language]

    Taxi sign language.
    The meaning of taxi language

    Taxi Tips

    A guide to hand signals used to hail taxis

    [Johannesburg taxi language intext:"Orange Farm"] In Google Images.

    [johannesburg taxi hand signal CBD] in Google Images.

    Taxi guide around Jozi with images


    1. I want to take a taxi to Orange Farm. What special things do I have to do to hail a taxi there from JNB airport?
    A: You need to go to the taxi Ranks; and, use the signals.

    Taxi hand signal to Orange Farm.

    2. Can you find a statue that tells you how to get to the Central Business District using this unorthodox language?

    A: Not complete yet. I found the signal and now I need to search for the statue.

  2. [Jozi CBD taxi signal intext:statue] in Google Images

    Learn your hand signals There I searched for the image.

    I found the statue, who made the photo and where it is.

    2. Can you find a statue that tells you how to get to the Central Business District using this unorthodox language?

    A: Taxi Hand signals sculpture, part of the Vilakazi Street. Photo Ailen Carrigan

    Have a great trip, Dr. Russell.

  3. I found the first one quite quickly and by luck. I searched for "how to hail taxi south africa". The second link was a BBC News video about the subject of special hand signs for hailing taxis in SA. ( The very last thing said in the video was that to get to Orange Town (which I'm pretty sure is also known as Orange Farm from searching the two names in Maps), you hold your hand out as if you were holding an orange.

  4. that's a long time in a hurtling metal tube, what are you listening to? enjoy the Fall weather, looks rainy…
    YT Woolf

  5. Searched [ jnb ] to find that it is the code for O. R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg, South Africa.
    Tried [ getting from jnb to orange farm ] Told me about Orange Farm on the Wikipedia page and not much more.
    [ south africa taxis ] to Transport in Johannesburg and learned that the taxis use an intricate language of hand symbols.
    [ south africa taxis hand signs ]
    In images I found a snippet to a chart that took me to In Praise of South Africa's Minibus Taxis that had a link to chart, and Australian Youtube video and their own experiences.
    1. You would make a symbol with your hand palm up as if gripping or picking a fruit.
    Note: On the site for JNB Airport they state "For safety and security, arriving passengers should only use Touch Down Taxis, the officially authorised airport taxi company."

    Image searched [ johannesburg statue taxi hand sign ] to Spotlight on the World Cup: Small Urban Interventions Enhance Host City
    2. Index finger pointing up is the symbol for the CBD

    Lots of other info including Susan Woolf's Artwork and book. I started to map out using the chart that you would need to go from one section to another and then another similar to a subway system, but then noticed the chart was 2005. I would hope that they would have had a better way to get around when the World Cup was there. Reading more about travel to South Africa and Johannesburg, I couldn't find mention of using the chart in this method so ended my search there.

  6. This was a challenge. The first job was to find out where JNB airport is. That was easy. I googled [JNB airport] and found that it was the Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Next I googled [Johannesburg airport taxi] that brought me to the airport's website, and contact information for 2 taxi companies, but nothing useful for this quest. Then I tried [Johannesburg taxi] and found a site (but have now misplaced it) which told me about the two kinds of taxis in Joburg. There are the metered taxis, which are private, and mostly available by apointment, though there is one company that has a contract for curbside taxis at the airport, and then there are minibus taxis, which are hailed by means of hand signs that indicate where you want to go. With that information in had, I googled [Johannesburg taxi hand signals] and found a nice chart of hand signals put out by the city. Here's where it got tricky. I didn't know what region the airport was in, or even how to find out. The region given on the airport's website led me to expect Kempton Park or Ekurhuleni, but neither of those was on the chart. By comparing the map on the chart to a google maps map of Joburg, I determined that the closest place to the airport that was listed on the chart is Rabie Ridge. The only hand signal to Orange Farm on the chart is from Lenasia, so I am guessing that is the only way you can get to Orange Farm. So you would take the taxi from Rabie Ridge to Lenasia, and from Lenasia to Orange Farm. But I'm not confident enough in my answer to actually try it in real life. Here is a link to the chart It is also available on other websites.
    The statue part was easy again. I googled [johannesburg taxi hand signals statue], clicked on the images tab, and went right to one. Here it is.
    This took me about 2 hours, working off and on.

  7. This post is kind of out topic. Today with Google Now Launcher, now we have the opportunity to have information about SearcResearch in Google Now. I am always looking for the site and now, I was asked if wanted to be informed about new content. With this, we have another way to be updated with Dr. Russell blog!

  8. I am a South African so I am advantaged here. I know that the easiest way to get to Orange farm is to hail a taxi... this is not a yellow cab though. Best thing to do is get to a major intersection where you could hail a minivan taxi but to get to Orange Farm you need to know the right hand signal, so I searched 'South African Taxi Hand Signal Orange Farm' and saw a Google Image which showed the curious cupped hand signal that goes with Orange Farm.

    To get the Hand Signal Sculpture, I just changed the search to 'Taxi Hand Signal Sculpture' and again in Google Images found the Taxi Hand Signals Sculpture at the Vikikazi Street Precinct.

  9. Query [JNB airport]
    Johannesburg International Airport (O.R. Tampo).
    Query [sign language taxis johannesberg orange farm]
    After thinking "farm" was unusual an unusual term (thinking orchard) I discovered Orange Farm was a district of Johannesburg.
    Hand Signal to Orange Farm we see is a cupped hand like holding an orange.
    Checked Books to find another source by Query [Taxi Hand Signs and Destinations]. The book Megacity Mobility Culture: How Cities Move on in a Diverse World Page 118 Figure 6.7 Still looking for image of statue.
    Checked Blogs looking for additional comments and images we find another link to show us hand signals
    PDF linkTaxi Hand Signals User Guide shows the hand signals and specifically to Joburg CBD - One finger pointing upwards. So now on to finding a statue of this hand signal.
    Here's a video (audio) with Susan Woolf with BBC talking about her interest in Joburg's hand signal language.
    Here's another video indicating that even locals don't know all the hand signals and in this case what the cupped hand meant.
    Query [johannesburg statues "hand signals"]

    Susan Woolf has documented, interviewed and written a couple books on the topic. (Unable to view).

    Back searching for the statue Query [johannesburg "scuplture OR statue" "sign language" '-fake] I found better results by adding -fake (sign language faker at Mandelas memorial). I had to approach this several times before I got the best keywords to provide this answer.
    Scroll downs to Sign Language and we have a good image of the statue “Taxi Hand Signals” at Vilakazi Street, where it intersects with Khumalo Street. We now have the hand signal for the Central Business District in Joburg.

    I was torn as to whether you meant we had to find a statue actually pointing to the CBD or a statue that shows the hand signal. As well I didn't confirm who created the statue but I was thinking perhaps Susan Woolf since she was an artist.

  10. PDF Link Hand Signal User Guide

    Book Link Megacity Mobility Culture

  11. 1. I want to take a taxi to Orange Farm. What special things do I have to do to hail a taxi there from JNB airport?

    Well, off to a dandy start; you are in South Africa having landed at Johannesburg (JNB) I guess you failed to book a taxi before you left SFO. By the way, not steerage? Non stop? How long a flight? So you hail a minibus for fast transport. You hail him by sticking out a hand with Pointer straight up. The driver knows then you want to go to the city center. Once on board with 20 or 30 others you shout "Jozi" which gets you downtown to the turn about for the buses. You then stick a hand out with Pointer down to indicate you want to leave the city. Or, you stick out a hand making a curled finger fruit picking gesture that indicates Orange Farm. This is known as South Africa's 12th official language: Taxi Hand Signs.
    Minibus taxi hand signs
    Every day thousands of hands stretch out along commuter routes across Gauteng, communicating silently with the drivers of minibus taxis. A raised index finger indicates you are headed to the city centre; turn your hand palm upwards and curl your fingers around an invisible fruit, and your destination changes to the informal settlement of Orange Farm.

    This ingenious system was developed during the apartheid era by black commuters, who had to travel long distances to and from work without easy access to transport.

    Johannesburg artist Susan Woolf has documented what is arguably South Africa’s 12th official language in her books and exhibition, Taxi Hand Signs: Symbolic Landscapes of Public Culture.

    The easiest way to test the system is to ride a minibus taxi to the city centre, and the best way to understand it without the handbook is to ask other commuters.

    JNB was a few seconds. Chasing down the language a few seconds more. Getting the specifics you required a good 20 minutes of fascinating research. I have used these minibuses in other countries very succesfully but not with this sign language.

    2. Can you find a statue that tells you how to get to the Central Business District using this unorthodox language?

    Got it: SEARCH [johannesburg taxi hand sign statue] A nice pix. The one you want is I think second from the right, or maybe second from the left. Its on Vilakazi Street

    Another super sleuthy search. jon

  12. I'm having difficulty in understanding the term "ranks". I tried [ define ranks ] but I don't see anything in the knowledge that sounds right. Has anyone come across a page that can help me grasp what ranks means in relation to taxis?

    1. We have taxi ranks in New Zealand. A taxi rank is a dedicated stopping place where taxis line up and park to wait for customers. There are several ranks around Wellington. Generally a customer takes the first taxi in the queue, but you don't have to - if you prefer a particular company, you can take their taxi from further down the rank. Being "the first cab off the rank" means being the preferred option or likely choice.
      Wellington NZ

  13. Hi Fred, Quick look at
    City of Johannesburg Taxi Ranks suggests to me they are equivalent to a taxi stand/bus stop/pickup-drop off or what our LRT system calls "kiss & ride" but there you are getting dropped off. I never thought about how foreigners would perceive these signs. Can you imagine?

    Then there's this link How to use Joburg's Mini Taxis

    1. Rosemary thanks for the chuckle. We have kiss & ride signs too and I never thought of it that way either.

    2. Hello Dr. Russell, Fred, RoseMary , Remmij and everyone.

      Searched [Taxi Ranks South Africa] in Google images and web search.

      Taxi ranks
      Taxi ranks in the south

      There are other results but this I think gives us an idea of how they work.

      Remmij, how you did the taxi signal? Do you have a G+ account?

      Great day, everyone.

    3. Mr. G… ✌ - ☛ - if you are referring to that - just a happy coincidence - am on a Mac and in the "character viewer" there are a whole host of signs and symbols that come in handy from time to time (unfortunately no TAXI symbol I'm aware of). This YT probably explains it better than I can and I'm including a blurb from an  support page:
      @ ~ 2:00 in it shows the "miscellaneous symbols pane" with "hands"
      the  word
      No G+ (or ×÷-±≠≟ … or other G suffixes… ;)) - they sometimes frown on that here at W3Catalog
      hope that answers your?¿‽ The character viewer also tells what all the symbols are called, also very handy. (e,g,; interrobang)
      [define taxi rank]
      btw, nicely searched.

      a little weekend material? -
      Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen

      a TedX talk participant at Palo Alto High School with Dr. D: impressive young man and interesting website design - check his [My Story & My Writing/My Setup]

    4. from Mr. Ou's twitter -
      TEDxPAHS - Wisdom & Virtue
      John Gruber, DF
      (they need to update - PAHS)
      appears Dr.DR was in PA, not ZA…
      2/27/14 - as noted by RM
      maybe he was taxiing to here?: (watch those one lane bridges)
      Orange in PA

  14. The South African Post Office has issued a set of stamps on the 29th January 2010 “hand signs” for a unique South African sign language.

  15. orange farm johannesburg taxi. Top listed authoritative site : city of Johannesburg - Taxis - Joburg Took me to page two had the taxi hand sign guide as a pdf