Mr Thai is a true gentleman, which is not the usual view people have of the average tuk-tuk driver. He is the ebullient, English-speaking one in the team of patiently waiting tuk-tuk and motodop drivers outside California 2 on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh.
“I know you are poor, Mr Clive. Pay me what you can,” has been his end-of-journey mantra from my first day riding with him in 2003 to today , when I had to abandon ship after the prop shaft on his tuk-tuk gave up.
Which is a shame, because Mr T’s new steed is one of the most venerable machines anyone could wish to have the pleasure of riding in. He says it was built in 1999, although it looks older than that. Its age to one side, though, it is indisputably the Rolls-Royce of tuk-tuks, a smooth-as-silk ride during which gear changes are seldom felt and the fillings stay in your teeth however rough the road surface.
Mr T recently travelled to the Cambodian border with Thailand to buy his handsome three-cylinder, 660cc Suzuki-engined machine, which boasts five forward and a reverse gear and cost him $1,800, plus an import fee he will not discuss.
It is also an example of an early Formula One-style monocoque construction, in which the motorcycle and trailer are a rigid one-piece unit with the power delivered to the rear wheels by a drive shaft and converted by a differential to spin the rear wheels… Continue reading Clive Graham-Ranger’s article for Southeast Asia Globe HERE