Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tuk Tuk of Pooh

Winnie the Pooh is one of the more popular fictional characters in Thailand. He regularly appears in the form of stuffed toys, on T-shirts, cushions, and bed linens, and even in tuk tuks. Seeing this character in an Asian context reminds me of the Tao of Pooh, the stimulating book by Benjamin Hoff that attempts to explain Taoist philosophy through the various Pooh characters. There are many inspirational passages in the book that make you stop and think about ways to conduct your life, including, “Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you've got.”        

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pop Icons

Today, I told my tuk tuk driver that I thought it was cool that he had a sticker with the image of the Argentine revolutionary, Che Guevara. His response was, "Oh, I didn't know who that was, but did you see my Mickey Mouse keychain?".  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Customized Vehicles

Bangkok tuk tuk drivers love to personalize their vehicles with custom paint jobs and decorative elements, such as Thai-style motifs on the roof. Considering that most of the models of auto rickshaws in Bangkok look similar when they roll out of the factory, it makes sense. It's also a way for drivers to show their creativity and individuality. And above all, the decorations are supposed to help attract more customers. Well, at least draw in those patrons that have a penchant for bright colors and showy embellishments.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lofty Charms

There's a reason why Thai tuk tuk drivers place their sacred decorations, including amulets, on the ceilings of their vehicles. Traditional precepts dictate proper methods of handling and displaying these sacred talismans, including the stipulation of placing them in a relatively high position to show respect. Either that or it has something to do with the fact that these three-wheelers have small dashboards. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Queen of Thais

Happy Birthday, HM Queen Sirikit. 
Long Live the Queen!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Opposites Attract

Despite the fact that the driver of this tuk tuk proudly displays a little statue of the happy Buddha on his dashboard, he isn't very happy. Come to think of it, he's nothing like this Chinese folkloric deity. The driver is super skinny with long black hair.     

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gitty Up!

In Thailand, there's a certain group that's into American Wild West culture. I have to admit that it's kind of strange seeing Thais wearing cowboy hats, big silver belt buckles, bootcut jeans, and turquoise jewelry. Tuk tuk drivers who are enthusiasts of this lifestyle, however, typically don't feel the need to dress the part. Most of them simply put a sticker on their vehicle depicting a cowboy or the defiant Native American Chief, Geronimo. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Alluring Lady

When Bangkok tuk tuk drivers need to bring in more cash, they call on Nang Gwak, the Thai goddess who lures in customers and their fat wallets with her waving hand. Dressed in traditional garb and holding a big money bag, she's usually depicted as being full-figured to denote her abundance of resources. As I snapped this picture inside a tuk tuk, the driver jokingly told me that this sticker represents his wife.             

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Back to the Country

Driving a tuk tuk in Bangkok must be stressful, especially when you consider the horrendous traffic and the annoying passengers that the drivers encounter on a day-to-day basis. According to this Thai TV commercial from five years ago, all it takes is a sip of an energy drink to escape the urban nightmare and be transported back to the tranquil countryside. The name of the beverage, by the way, is Look Thung, referring to the style of Thai country music that tuk tuk drivers here generally love.      

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sticky Finances

In the Northeast region of Thailand where many Bangkok tuk tuk drivers hail from originally, sticky rice, a staple in the local diet, is eaten out of containers like this one. Known as katip, these woven bamboo baskets are occasionally hung in tuk tuks to represent earning an honest living and "bringing home the bacon". I wonder if there's an expression in Thai about bringing home the sticky rice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Three-wheeled Bakery

It looks like the food truck craze has made it to Sri Lanka. But rather than retrofitting Econoline vans with kitchen implements, tuk tuks are being employed. The driver of this particular three-wheeler is offering freshly baked breads for sale. Had I not just eaten curry and rice purchased out of the back of another tuk tuk, I would have bought a loaf or two.