The Aggressive Tuk-Tuk Driver of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
STORY: There are many of us who are quick to judge on people. It's man's greatest fault, and there is no excuse for it. I am guilty. But as you travel to distant places and meet people who live totally different lives, slowly you will realize that there is much goodness in this world. We're just too clouded by misunderstandings and misinterpretations from people we talk to or stories we read. I sincerely believe that deep in the heart of every man, there is love and willingness to help other people. With a few exceptions, whatever happens, always believe in the goodness of men.
We've become so cautious of the people we meet. Because of this, we're slowly losing that great sense of hope for humanity. We are missing the utmost joy of travel, and that is crossing paths with random people who may shape our lives forever.
I've been on the road on and off for about seven years now. I've met some rude and deceiving people which i would like to bury in my past. But i'd like to say I've met more strangers who were so warm and kind-hearted that it felt to me that i was part of their family, i was part of their lives.
From the very day i started with my adventure up until today as i write this down, i can always recall those people. They will never ever be forgotten. I will live to tell stories from the road.
"The Tuk-Tuk Driver"
I arrived in Phnom Penh after a grueling eight-hour bus ride. It was hot, humid and the place was full of dust. There were many touts that day, but one tuk-tuk driver was very persistent. He caught me from the bus station, with just a second of contact. He looked like every single one of the tuk-tuk drivers; a little taller than me, and the sweat falling down from his hair was obvious. He was wearing cut off pants and a shirt that must have been washed too many times. You know how tuk-tuk drivers are.
I've had my share of misfortunes in the past, and i got fooled several times by ridiculous tuk-tuk drivers. There were some who even fought with me and would not leave until i give them the money. Since then, I've been really cautious. This tuk-tuk driver in Phnom Penh was like every one else I've met in South East Asia. He wasn't particularly friendly and he doesn't even smile at me. He was very straight forward, and looked eager to earn some money. He started following me wherever i go. He said he wanted to take me to a cheap hostel. He even tried to curse the passing tuk-tuk driver for trying to pick me up along the highway. He was aggressive in convincing me to go with him.
I tried to stay away, and in the process, I have left him countless number of times insisting i will look around. Miraculously, he still always manages to catch me. Finally, i gave in.
His voice was commanding... "Hey Listen To Me!". I remember him uttering that line with great conviction.
I arrived at the hostel a few minutes later, and i believe his was a legitimate deal. The room was great, the location is fantastic, and i paid him just as we agreed.
Days passed by, and i found myself still calling him to pick me up. I wandered around Phnom Penh; visiting pagodas, heading to the lake and river, and even on the outskirts of the city. He became my driver, guide and later on, a very good friend.
There were times when the tuk-tuk he's driving will break down. All the time, he would say sorry and start fixing it right away. I always try to help him but he always declines. By this time, he was asking me to only pay half of the price we agreed.
I looked at him, and saw honesty in his eyes. His genuine apology shot through my heart.
Nobody wanted for the tuk-tuk to break down. It's not his fault, but he took blame.
I was quick to judge. I believe it has been one of the biggest mistakes of my life, and up until now i still feel bad for my actions.
Was he persistent? Yes. Was he deceiving? Most definitely not.
I just checked my phone book, and his contact number is still with me. His name is Tai and his number is 0924400230. If you're heading to Phnom Penh, promise me to ride with him.