The new super tuk-tuk: Riding in style.
For those of you who haven't seen a tuk-tuk, they're normally a sketchy passenger cart attached to a motorcycle or look like a really beat-up golf cart. A tuk-tuk is the Asian version of a taxi where you always negotiate the price before getting in. Traveling in Asia, you get pretty used to men yelling 'tuk-tuk!' at you every few minutes (or seconds if you're walking in a city.)
A year ago in Otres, you could only find the motorcycle-style tuk-tuks, making any journey a slow and bumpy ride. Try to imagine something as powerful as a riding lawnmower towing a cart with 4-6 people jammed in it. Now, the town and nearby city primarily offer these super tuk-tuks. They're small trucks where the back has been turned into passenger seating. Definitely more expensive, but a safer and smoother ride overall. Most even have flaps to pull down the sides for when it's raining so you don't get wet.
I was really surprised upon returning this year to find that most drivers have upgraded to this style of tuk-tuk. It's not cheap to purchase a vehicle and gas (from a gas station, not a coca cola bottle) is about 0.90c per litre. With the super tuk-tuk, I think it's a good indicator of how much the region is growing with the tourist dollars that are coming in. Or it's an indicator of how much prices have gone up in general and that negotiating is significantly more difficult than it used to be.
Across Cambodia, all of the major cities and medium-sized towns have motorcycle-style tuk-tuks, but rarely in villages. Getting from point A to point B can often be either a fun or traumatizing experience.
Since public transportation is non-existent, you either walk, rent a motorcycle/scooter, or get a tuk-tuk. For longer distances, there are buses, tourist mini-vans, and private cars. Locals I have seen use tuk-tuks for transportation as well, but they also have the options of piling into someone's car or van, in the back of a truck bed, or on top of any vehicle that happens to be going the same direction as you to get from point A to B. I've seen big trucks and tractor trailers with people hanging off or on top of whatever they can to catch a ride. Or, they hop on a friend/family scooter, squeezing in with 3 other adults, 2 children, a baby, at least 4 chickens, bags of vegetables, a cart of pigs attached to an extension on the bike, and a case of beer somewhere resting in-between everything.
The super tuk-tuk seems like they could be great for short or long distances, if the right price is negotiated.
Would these work in Canada? I definitely think so if we didn't have vehicle regulations, emissions testing, and winter.