Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chatty Drivers

According to a recent study in the US, twenty-five percent of all automobile accidents there are caused by inattentive driving while talking or texting on cell phones. I wonder what percent of car crashes in Thailand are related to this issue. Tuk tuk drivers are constantly chatting on their phones.    

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuk Tuk Appreciation

I just returned from a trip abroad and one of the first things I did when I arrived in Bangkok was hop in a tuk tuk. I missed riding in them when I was gone and now that I'm back, I feel like taking these three-wheelers everywhere I go. They're especially perfect for short trips to the market and they're great for hauling things to and fro. They're also relatively inexpensive if you don't mind haggling and if the driver agrees to a fair charge. What's not to love about this mode of transportation?  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Have a Nice Day

My tuk tuk driver the other day was born in Kathmandu which explains why he has this particular sticker on his vehicle. This emblem is prevalent in Nepal and it has come to represent the country itself. The eyes are meant to be those of the Buddha and signifify his all-seeing and all-knowing qualities. The coiled line below the eyes is the Nepalese number one which symbolizes unity and enlightenment. When I see the round yellow shape, however, all I can think about is one of those happy faces that says "have a nice day".  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thai Tarzan

According to my tuk tuk driver the other day, the real Tarzan lives somewhere in Thailand. I guess he resides on one of the islands or somewhere upcountry. Then again, maybe he's from the concrete jungle of Bangkok and swings from power lines in order to avoid all the heavy traffic. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wrapped in Swaddling Cloth

In Thailand, it's common to see colorful cloth wrapped around various objects, including the bows of long-tail boats, the steering wheels of cars and tuk tuks, and trees. In the case of trees, it's believed that spirits live in certain species that are old and big, and consequently monks and laypeople wrap material around them to designate their sacredness. You can always find trees with stripes of color in and around Buddhist temples, and sometimes even religious buildings themselves, as well as images of the Buddha, are draped in cloth. The fabric bundled around parts of boats, cars, and tuk tuks, however, serves another function. The cloth symbolically protects the vehicles and passengers from accidents and other dangers. The way the driver of this three-wheeler was maniacally swerving in and out of lanes today, he should have wrapped his entire vehicle in fabric.       

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Ain't Afraid of No Tuk Tuk!

If there's something weird and it don't look good. Who you gonna call? This three-wheeler? No. Ghostbusters! If they don't answer, perhaps you could give Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Ferrari, Che Guevara, or the Michelin Man a ring. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five-Star Tuk Tuk

In Bangkok, where there are many wealthy tourists and expats, and where certain Thais are obsessed with their social status, many five-star restaurants, hotels, spas, and other services prevail. Even the driver of this three-wheeler installed five taillights in the shape of stars to designate that his vehicle and services are top quality. Most people who take tuk tuks, however, could care a less about that. They just want to get from Point A to Point B safely and for the least amount of money possible.          

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ferocious Tiger

In Thailand, tigers are a symbol of strength, power, and fearlessness. In this culture, you can find Thai-style images of them in the form of tattoos and on lucky yantra cloths, like this one hanging on the ceiling of a three-wheeler. Because tigers can be ferocious and scare away smaller animals, tuk tuk drivers frequently choose this particular image as they believe it drives away other auto rickshaws vying for the same customers. Indeed the competition can be fierce in this city overrun with various forms of taxis.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chinatown

Happy Chinese New Year 2013
If you happen to be in Bangkok this weekend, hop in a tuk tuk and tell the driver to go to Yaowarat Road to celebrate Chinese New Year. Never mind the hoards of people, the sights in Bangkok's Chinatown at this time of year are spectacular! Be sure to try some delicacies on the street, stop at a Chinese-style temple, watch dancing dragons and troupes of acrobats, and take some photos of the themed decorations in the form of this year's astrological sign, the snake.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Path

“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”  - The Buddha

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bad Boy

There are many reputable tuk tuk drivers in Bangkok, but occasionally you come across one that you can't trust. Some offer rides for an unbelievably low price to drive you around the city, but then they stop at tailors and gem shops along the way to collect gas coupons from the proprietors. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some try to overcharge foreigners. And if you're headed to a famous Buddhist temple, some tuk tuk drivers may tell you that it's closed due to a national holiday and then try to take you to another destination desperate for your business. Sometimes it's difficult to spot an unscrupulous driver, but the owner of this three-wheeler is clearly warning potential customers that he's up to no good.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Children's Day

Today, kids all over Thailand are celebrating their youth. It's National Children's Day known in Thai as Wan Dek. It's a chance for Thai kids to do everything they love: eating ice cream, playing with balloons, going to the zoo, riding bikes, and taking tuk tuk rides with no parents on board. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Taking Wing

 
When I spotted the image of this colorful butterfly on the back of a tuk tuk today, I assumed that the driver has an appreciation for this creature. After all, Thailand has over one thousand species and there are some incredible butterfly farms in this country where one can view them. As it turns out, however, the symbol has little to do with either of those facts. The driver considers himself to be a "butterfly" and he uses the English word to describe himself as such. He is single and free and apparently flies from one mate to another.   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuk Tuk Holidays

Happy Holidays from Art of the Tuk Tuk.
May all your auto rickshaw rides be merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Father Figure

Today is the 85th birthday of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. As the King is considered to be the patriarch of the country, father's day is celebrated today and December 5th has also become a national holiday. Many Thais spend the day with their fathers and it is traditional to give a canna flower, or dok Buddha ruksa as it is called in Thai, to dads and granddads on this day to show respect. Happy Father's Day and Long Live the King!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thai Eclecticism

This has to be the only music video in the world that includes the combination of a Rastafarian on rollerblades, random guys breakdancing and kickboxing, jazz musicians dressed in black and white, an unruly backpacker, and tuk tuks. The song, Tuk Tuk Breakdown, is pretty eclectic itself as it blends a variety of music genres together and as the lyrics focus on everything from auto rickshaw drivers taking farang, or foreigners, to famous sites around Bangkok to eating nam tok, a spicy Thai meat dish. Written by Kai-Jo Brothers six years ago, it still perfectly encapsulates the fun and quirky nature of Thailand.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Khao San Tuk Tuk

In Bangkok, most tuk tuk drivers have a routine area for parking their vehicles while waiting for customers. The operator of this auto rickshaw is a regular on Khao San Road, the street that British author Alex Garland called "the centre of the backpacking universe" in his 1996 novel, The Beach. Khao San is where budget travelers can find everything they need before and after heading off to the various islands in Thailand (and other locations around Southeast Asia), including internet cafes, ATMs, cheap food, Singha beer, travel agents, fake IDs, and fisherman pants. Oh, and for those who leave the street, there are tuk tuks like this one available for hire.      

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Night Rider

There's nothing quite like riding in a tuk tuk at night. Unlike the experience of traveling in an enclosed car, driving along in an open vehicle is not so removed from the blinking city lights, urban sounds, and action on the streets. Even after nine years of living in this city, I still get a rush every time I take a three-wheeler after dark.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thai Dingleballs

For Bangkok tuk tuk drivers trying to give their vehicles an 80s lowrider look, dingleballs are an essential accessory. They fit right in with the customized paint jobs made up of colorful stripes and other graphics. The only thing missing is fuzzy dice and girls in bikinis.        

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Handmade Souvenir

If you're visiting Thailand and need a fun and unique souvenir or gift for someone back home, I suggest buying a hand-crafted toy tuk tuk made out of beer and soda cans. My favorite ones sport Thai brands of beer, such as Chang, Singha, or Leo, but the ones that have Thai writing that spell Coke or Pepsi are pretty cool, too. You might want to pick up a few considering the low cost of 159 baht each, or roughly five US dollars, and if you purchase more than one, do as the native Thais do and barter for a lower price.