Race Tuk Tuks in Bangkok

The Race Is On: The blur-inducing perspective from a Bangkok tuk-tuk (Digital Visions)

This is not for the faint of heart. Actually, this is an outright stupid thing to do, but there is no denying the complete exhilaration of the experience. A tuk tuk is a motorized tricycle used as a taxi in Bangkok (its name derives from the tuk-tuk-tuk sound of its engine). For years they stood as the standard means of transportation, and while metered taxi cars have taken over their long-reigning position of power, these little ramshackle three-wheelers are still plentiful. The tuk tuk driver sits up front in the tricycle, while you and your friends ride in the back on an open bench. The only protection from the outside elements is a flimsy metal roof and whatever pad passes for a seat. Tuk tuks are capable of reaching their max speed of around 45 miles per hour in what seems like half a second, though each one varies according to the care and motorhead-ness of the given driver. And therein lies the fun. A ride in one through the busy streets of Bangkok is thrilling enough, but if you've got at least one partner in crime, the race is on. You and "opponent" each hire a tuk tuk, barter the price, and then offer 100 baht to the driver who gets there first. Expect to pay roughly 50 baht for every five minutes of travel, so this is cheap entertainment…if you don't get hurt. There are no seat belts, no air bags, and tuk tuks do not come with a life insurance policy. Caveat Emptor!


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