Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Tuk-Tuk Love Story

On our first full day in Phnom Penh, Zuzana (a fellow volunteer) and I woke up ready to see the city. As soon as we stepped outside our hotel we were approached by several men asking if we needed a tuk-tuk, which for anyone who doesn't know is basically a motorized rickshaw. We decided to go with the man that asked us first, and this is how we met Wan.

Now Zuzana and I weren't planning into getting involved in anything serious. We had just arrived after all, and we wanted to keep our options open. But it wasn't long before we realized that riding in Wan's tuk-tuk was going to be more than just a one-time thing. 

It started out pretty casually. We asked him if he could take us to the airport (to get extensions on our visas) and he did. He turned out to be so lovely that we asked if he wouldn't mind driving us around the rest of the day and he happily agreed. We were thrilled when at the end of that first day he asked if he could be our driver for the rest of our stay.

Wan really was like our boyfriend for the week. He gave us his number so we could call him to come pick us up, and he was always on time to meet us. When we would leave a museum or restaurant and start walking towards where Wan would be waiting for us, we had lots of other tuk-tuk offers to which we would reply "sorry, we're already with someone." We even took him out for dinner on our last night!

Over the course of the week we realized how much our steady business meant to Wan. He's married with one son and another on the way, and he is the sole provider for his family. He told us that his wife used to work in a factory but that he encouraged her to quit because it was difficult and dangerous work. Because they only have one income they rent a small apartment, but he hopes to one day be able to purchase a house. He seemed so grateful to us but we were just as grateful to him, because he knew the city like the back of his hand and he could not have been more nice, patient or helpful.

As we leave for Siem Reap tomorrow we are most definitely going to miss Wan. But if we're ever in Phnom Penh again, we know exactly who our tuk-tuk driver will be.

Zuzana, Wan and I