Scooters, mopeds, moto’s.
They go by many different names these bastions of the poor and tropical travellers.
Here in England they are looked upon as some kind of second class travel, a way of getting around for young kids and old people, never have we been so wrong.
Transport to basically anywhere warm and these scooters become omnipresent, they are the flip flops of the vehicle world, the step between shod and shoe less More than this they are cheap, they last forever and with a little will power you can get 4 or 5 people on them. Seventy pence of fuel will last you the whole day and frankly they are great fun.
Flip flops are throw away footwear for the privileged, shoe wearing nations but for the majority of the world they are practical but most of all affordable, they provide shoes for shoe-less peoples. As well as this almost all flip flops are made in one region of China and the large workforce migrates from one factory to the other depending upon which has the orders and the work at that time and so flip flops provide a livelihood for these poor migrant workers too.
Scooters are not so different. On the streets of cities like Phomn Penh or Saigon a Honda scooter is a major status symbol for the poor who cannot afford the SUV’s of the ruling class, but you will see many more Chinese made scooters like the Dae Lim as these cost a fraction of the price of the Honda.
The main form of taxi in Cambodia is the moto, quite simply a guy with a scooter, for a couple of dollars you can get anywhere in the capital, although it may take some time as the majority of moto drivers are from the country and do not know the city. In Goa you can hire your own Honda for about two pounds a day, really the only way to travel from beach to beach.
Don’t think either that you can just get yourself and a date on a scooter, with a little bit of work it’s amazing what you can pile on.
Both flip flops and scooters are ubiquitous on the streets of the warmer countries and it is not just because of the practicality in the heat of the tropical sun it is that they are also a vital bridge between one class and the next.
The jury is still out on flip flops but slur loves the scooter.