- Cyclo [noun]….a three-wheeled bicycle used as a mode of transport within South East Asia.
It was my first time in Cambodia and in fact just my second day. We had hooked up with a tour company and had just crossed from Vietnam into Cambodia. Phnom Penh, the capital city, was our home for two days and the venue for the infamous cyclo ride with a difference.
It is common practice that when in Phnom Penh to hire a cyclo and its trusty driver as a means of experiencing the city. As tourists ourselves, we were no different. For anyone not aware, the three-wheeled transport includes a big seat at the front for the passenger with the driver behind, kind of like a tuk tuk in reverse, but manual. It is a cheap means of fun transport and importantly also an income for its drivers.
As a group we took off, each in our own cyclo, to some of the cities biggest sites. These included the central market, the dome like structure pictured above, which is full of countless stalls of cheap souvenirs and a must see for the keen shopaholic tourist. We also swung by the the Independence Monument built in 1958 after Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953, pictured below.
What we experienced while on this tour was that cyclos were a relaxing means of seeing the city, especially if you are the one enjoying the ride. After a few miles we happened to notice our drivers were looking rather warm. They were profusely sweating, it doesn’t matter how fit you are, or how often you cycle tourists around, in 75% humidity it’s no fun. It was at this point a few members of our tour decided we should switch roles and repay the favour. With a quick hop and a jump, literally, positions were switched and we were in charge of these three-wheeled contraptions.
While being slightly terrified of the traffic (luckily the traffic in Phnom Penh is nothing compared with Ho Chi Minh City and other South East Asian cities) I managed to cycle my way to our next destination, the Royal Palace, pictured below.
Along the roads of Phnom Penh we allowed our drivers to enjoy a well-deserved break and pleasant, unique experience. It was while dodging traffic and attempting to stay upright we all experienced reactions from locals we didn’t quite expect. There were cheers, waves and even clapping, which was certainly humbling. I am assuming to them it would have been an odd sight – seeing tourists somewhat, and I mean only somewhat, in control of a cyclo. It would have been a nice change of scenery seeing a tourist do something for a local instead.
To this day this is a memory that shows how a small gesture of kindness can be appreciated by many and is a memory I will hold dearly.
When you’re next exploring a new country what will you do to make someone’s life a little easier? Or have you done something to make someone’s life easier? If so we would love to hear about it. Comment on this post or drop us a line through our various social media accounts or blog listed below.
About The Author – #ljojlo
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