Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Trike Experience

It’s been years since I moved from Metro Manila to the rural setting that I am based in nowhere in the province. It has been a big change, but I have adjusted to it fairly well. In fact, I have gotten to the point where if given the opportunity, I would turn down a good job in the city if it meant leaving home and the province that I have become so used to. Life here is simpler, quieter,, and peaceful…plus the traffic in our neck of the woods is virtually non-existent.  Who would want to give that up? 

One of the things that changed the way I live my life here in the province is my mode of transportation. Back when I was living and working in the city, I was used to taking buses and cabs to go all over the place. Now I take a tricycle to get around town because it takes me to my destination directly compared to a jeepney and it is much more practical to take instead of bringing your own vehicle to and from anywhere around here. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when you do need to take your own car, ride a bus or a jeepney but those are for longer trips to other cities or municipalities in the province. But for where I’m from, the tricycle will do just fine. 


In the years that I’ve experienced riding a tricycle here in the province, I have had so many different types of tricycle stories. Here are just some of them:

  • Not all tricycles are created the same. Some have low sidecars – I always need to bend down in my seat because of how low the seat and the ceiling of the sidecar is. I’ve heard people call it the turtle-style sidecar/trike. If you see one, the best advice would be not to ride it, especially if you are tall.
  • When I was new at the whole tricycle riding thing, I was a bit scared to flag down a ride since some tricycles around here are not for public transport and I couldn’t tell the difference between the public and privately-owned ones. There was this one tricycle driver who seemed to notice my dilemma and would drive over to me when he sees me walking from a distance so that he could give me a ride. That way I wouldn’t have to flag down anyone. 
  • Even though some tricycles are not for public transport, some of them still give me a ride for the normal fare when there is no other tricycle around. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that I have to sit next to a bucket of fresh seafood or meat or with a bunch of playful little kids on their way to school. 
  • Being overweight, I sometimes joke around with the drivers when they cannot get the tricycle over road humps: “Kuya, nakaka-offend ang tricycle mo!”
  • In my experience, some drivers love to decorate their tricycles, some simply do not have any. I’ve seen one with a photo of his wife painted onto the sidecar. There is one with tags of all these fancy brands hanging on the sidecar’s window. Another one had small stuffed bears. There are a lot with loud, bass-thumping sound systems fitted into the seat and fancy lights around the sidecar – it’s like a party trike at night!
  • I usually take a tricycle to and from work. I’ve done that for the past decade or so like clockwork that I am familiar with most of the drivers – I don’t know their names, but I know their faces. It has gotten to the point that when I take trips for work or when I’m on leave for a long period of time the drivers would comment and ask where I’ve been when I see them again. They know me too well that they know I do not ride at the back of the motorcycle and they drive me straight home without even asking in the afternoons – I had to correct one of them one time when I wasn’t! They were so used to my routine they seem to go on autopilot with me!
  • Some tricycle drivers are like cab drivers. If your destination is too near, they will not give you a ride. You can be standing right in front of them at the waiting area and these drivers would be watching you desperately trying to look for a ride and saying they just can’t take me to where I’m going. The frustrating part is that the other drivers passing by refuse to take me explaining that the same drivers at the waiting area who wouldn’t take me often complain when other tricycles take their passengers, so they can’t give me a ride.  How messed up is that?
  • In our street, we have neighbors who drive tricycles for a living. My sister and I jokingly call them our Uber drivers because we can text them and they will come to pick us up and take us anywhere we need to go. Considering some of the situations I get myself into when it comes to riding tricycles, this is a good option for us.
  • My favorite memory/experience by far would be an old tricycle driver who, when he was driving me home, stopped several times to let a few schoolkids hitch a ride home. I thought they were just other passengers until I noticed that he was picking up kids walking home from school and when the kids got off, he refused payment. He was just helping the kids out. Considering how long the stretch of road was from the school to where he dropped them off, I thought that it was a generous thing to do considering how little these drivers earn during the day. That was just a touching sight for me to see.

I may have a love-hate relationship with public transport, but I do like that it has given me a slew of experiences that I will not soon forget. Tricycle rides will be a thing that I will be experiencing for years to come given my life here in the province. I may not always like it, but I have gotten used to it. The trike experience is a way of life here and I am going to embrace it.


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