- William Platt
You want tuk tuk?
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Every day, every single day, ten times every single day “you want tuk tuk”. Every street, every corner of every street a plethora of tuk tuk’s. A swarm, herd, cloud, chattering or whatever collective noun is for a group of tuk tuk drivers.
If you want to get around Phnom Penh, this is one way to do it, cheap and comfortable, well sort of comfortable. Cut the passenger seat off of a motorbike, fix up a metal thing, attach a two wheeled carriage, with metal frame and two bench seats and da dah!
There are no tests for the drivers. No bike test, no “knowledge” test. One driver knows where he’s going the other one doesn’t know where he is.
When you walk down the street they say “you want tuk tuk?” while one hand imitates the twisting motion for the accelerator on the bike. Like “you want tuk tuk, vroom vroom”. My answer is “no thank you”. It’s pointless explaining I live and work 400m apart and don’t mind walking. You see only poor people walk and as a barong I am rich so I should ride a tuk tuk, simple really.
“You want tuk tuk?” - “no thank you”.
“You want tuk tuk?”. Methinks “No, if I had wanted a tuk tuk I would have said yes to the man standing right next to you when he asked me if I wanted a tuk tuk”, I say “no thank you”.
“You want tuk tuk?”. Me thinks … see above
“You want tuk tuk?”. Me thinks “ no, I don’t want a tuk tuk, if I wanted a stuffing tuk tuk I would have got into the first tuk tuk just 4m away wouldn’t I?” I shake my head, smile and say "no thank you".
At the weekend I took a tuk tuk (love saying that) and when I got out, seriously, when I stepped out of the tuk tuk, the driver of another tuk tuk just 5m away said “You want tuk tuk?”. - Me thinks - “no! you see if I wanted a tuk tuk I would have stayed in this tuk tuk to go to the place where I wanted to go. This place is actually this bar just 1m away”. I say “no thank you”.
Every weekday I leave my school at 3pm, cross the road and start my 400m journey to my apartment, every weekday, the same routine. “You want tuk tuk?” - “no thank you”. “You want tuk tuk?” - “no thank you”. “You want tuk tuk?” - “no thank you”.
I have been doing this journey for four months, I see the same drivers and every time it’s “You want tuk tuk?” - “no thank you”.
Get out of a taxi “You want tuk tuk?”.
Get out of a car “You want tuk tuk?”.
Get off your motorbike “You want tuk tuk?”.
I am holding a crash helmet and I am climbing on my motorbike. “You want tuk tuk?”. No you stupid idiot I don’t want your bloody tuk tuk. This is the motorbike you watched me climb off of just just two minutes ago and you asked me then if I wanted a tuk tuk and I said no thank you you watched me go into this glass box of an ATM booth and now I am getting on my motorbike so it would appear that I do not want your bloody tuk tuk are you mad are you blind are you thick? I do not want your @*!^%#€*$@£# tuk tuk”
I smile and say “no thank you”. He smiles as well.
I will see him again tomorrow and he will say “You want tuk tuk?”.