Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tuk Tuks - not only in Southeast Asia





Tuk Tuk's and traffic in Chiang Mai



  
When I think of tuk tuk's I immediately think of large Southeast Asian cities with lots of traffic and tiny little tuk tuk's weaving in and out of the traffic to transport tourists quickly to a special destination.  I took my first tuk tuk ride while I was in Bangkok, and yes it was  large southeast Asian city with lots of traffic.   The guide books all said to be careful of tuk tuks.  They over charge.  They are expensive when compared to using a bus or a tram.  I did not find them all that expensive in Bangkok.  Once I assured the driver I did not want to visit the tiger sanctuary or any other tourist trap on his list it was a pleasant and quick way to get to my chosen destination.  Mark and I used tuk tuks' several times while in Bangkok.  We found it fun to zoom through the busy traffic blocked streets.  And the breeze blowing through the tuk tuk was a welcome relief to the heat in Bangkok.


Mark and I in Bangkok in the back of a tuk tuk

After leaving Bangkok we visited the city of Chiang Mai.  We decided to hire a driver with a taxi in Chiang Mai instead of using tuk tuk's.  Our driver was a very nice lady named Ebon.  We spent an entire day with her for only $45.  She was delightful and showed us many interesting places and taught us a lot about the city of Chiang Mai and surrounding area's outside of the city.  We met her at the airport when we arrived in Chiang Mai.  She drove us from the airport to our hotel and gave us her business card to use if we were interesting in hiring her the next day.  After our day with Ebon we decided we would spend the rest of our time in Chiang Mai on foot visiting the many side streets, temples and shops. As we walked the streets we say many tuk tuk drivers parked along the streets.   Each tuk tuk we passed called out to us "Tuk tuk?"  After a day of hearing "Tuk tuk?" at least a hudred times I started to find it humorous.  We saw one last tuk tuk driver on a very hot afternoon and as he called out to us I responded with a friendly laugh "No. No tuk tuk's today".   I was looking back at the driver and was not watching my step very well.  Mark had walked on ahead of me.  I slipped on a curb and had a very bad fall right in front of the tuk tuk.  I called to Mark ahead of me frantically.  I knew something was wrong and I could not get up on my feet.  I had broken my ankle.  I looked back at the tuk tuk driver I had just said "No" to hoping for a ride.  I must have made him angry when I said "No tuk tuk" the first time, as he just looked at me and started up his tuk tuk and drove away.   Mark helped me to my feet and I realized I could not walk back to our hotel.  Luckily we were able to flag down another tuk tuk and he took us safely back to our hotel.




After leaving Chiang Mai we flew to Phuket and stayed in the city of Patong.  I had issue hiring tuk tuk's in Patong.  My foot was very swollen and it was painful walking.  At this time I thought it was just a sprain.  I did not find out it was actually broken until I returned home and went to the emergency room four days later.  Four days of tuk tuk rides in Phuket gave us the chance to see the variety of different tuk tuk designs in the city.  Some had fancy lights inside the cabin that blinked on and off.  One had a Winnie the Pooh decor which I found amusing.


A Winnie The Pook Tuk Tuk in Patong
















We traveled to Portugal in June 2015.  The last thing I expected to see was a tuk tuk.  We were not in Southeast Asia.  We were in Western Europe.  We took a day trip from Cascais to the city of Sintra.  We had been in Sintra in 2009 for a day also but did not get the chance to really explore the city.  We made the big mistake of walking to the Castle of the Moors our first time in Sintra.  We had wanted to see the Castle so when we saw a sign pointing to the trail to walk to the castle we thought it would be a good idea.  We did not really research this very well.  The sign made it look like just a brief hike.  In reality the Castle of the Moors is on a very high hill way above the city.  We spent our entire day climbing the hill to the castle and we too tired afterwards to really explore any of the city itself.


Castle of the Moors - high above the city of Sintra


When we were at the Castle of the Moors in 2009 we were able to see the beautiful Pena Palace located above the castle on an even higher hill.  We did not have the time or energy to visit it that day.  So on our return trip in 2015 we planned to take explore the many side streets and alleys of Sintra and then take a bus up the hill to visit the Pena Palace.  As we explored Sintra we walked past a tuk tuk stand.  What kind of sorcery was this?  Tuk tuk's in Portugal?  We also noticed that the drivers of the tuk tuk's were very attractive young men.  

We were enticed to take a tuk tuk

So it was decided.  We would hire a tuk tuk to take us to the Pena Palace.  It was a bit more expensive than the tuk tuk's in Thailand.  But it was worth the price.  We had a very pleasant driver who took us to the palace and showed us quite a few beautiful over looks on the way to the top of the hill.  It was a lot easier and more fun than the long climb we had on our first visit.

Pena Palace

Our driver was not only pleasant and a good guide but he was also a very attractive young man which made the day all the more pleasant for these two "older" gay men.   At the end of our trip I asked the driver if we could take a photo.  His thought I meant for him to take a photo of Mark and I together.  When I explained that I wanted a photo with him he kind of blushed, smiled and said of course.  

Our friendly tuk tuk driver in Sintra

So if your in Sintra take my advice.  Do not follow the sign to the walking trail to the Castle of the Moors or the Pena Palace.



Hire a tuk tuk instead.  

No comments:

Post a Comment