It came, it conquered: How the humble tuk-tuk conquered Southeast Asia

From India to Southeast Asia, Africa to South America, the humble tuk-tuk has shown that three wheels are plenty as its conquered vast swathes of the globe in recent decades.

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 [2007], 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. 

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