I enter a fair few competitions, mostly because I like filling in forms, and recently won a book from Bah! To Cancer’s excellent blog (thank you very much!). Because I tend to enter indiscriminately and win a fair bit, I do end up reading quite a wide selection of books. On this occasion I won a copy of Tuk Tuk To The Road, by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Jo Huxster, which is taken from the tuktotheroad blog. This is a collection of blog posts from Antonia (Ants) and Jo as them attempt to drive a tuk tuk from Bangkok in Thailand across Asia and Europe, to Brighton in something like four months. The aim is to raise lots of money for the mental health charity Mind, chosen after the two of them have experiences with mental health issues. They succeeded in this, and the blog was very popular, the girl’s (which is how they describe themselves) managed to get home safely and all turned out well.
Now, I must point out the following is all down to my incredibly jealousy. For a start, if you don’t know what a tuk tuk is, then join in the party of those who have never been to Thailand (or anywhere outside of Europe unaccompanied by a parent) because YOU COULDN’T AFFORD IT. A tuk tuk is apparently the Thai taxi, a three wheeled machine that, to be fair, does look very cute. If I saw one, I’d probably dream of having one of my own to drive around on, I’d probably even paint it pink and cover it is glitter, but you know what, I don’t, because I Can’t Afford It.
I fully fully get that the authors were doing this all for charitah, and to raise awareness of a very important issue. I also fully get that they are not writers, just normal people (well, I say normal, I mean, to the extent where they can afford to take a year off work in order to raise loads of money for charitah and not starve in the process. I don’t know many normal people who can do that, just a laod of privileged rich uns) but what is the point of doing this absolutely fantastic trip, which clearly took a lot of planning and effort, and involving so many other people to make your tuk tuk from scratch and modify it to be safe to drive accross all kinds of terrain, and then others to guide you across that terrain, if all you are going to do is use your one outlet of writing it down so that other people, you know the ones who have given you the money so you can take a year off to do the thing in the first place, can read about your Excellent Adventure for pissing and moaning about all them Foreign countries just not being up to scratch (there were flies in the food, Oh My God, the roads are awful, Oh My God! I couldn’t bribe a policeman effectively by letting him grope me, Oh My God!!!). Possibly favourite bit being when they say they are going to make a sign saying ‘China- Country under construction’ because they weren’t aloud to take a tuk tuk, basically a posh tricycle, on a motorway. How awful. In a country coming back from a communist dictatorship where millions of people died of starvation and totalitarianism. Poor things.
Occasionally they do stop whining enough to describe the beautiful scenery and amazing places they visit. This goes something like this. ‘The scenery is breath takingly beautiful and I learnt this fascinating fact about this amazing place [insert fact here]. There aren’t any other Westerners here, people look at us funny, then again we are driving a bright pink tuk tuk! Aren’t we funny!’.
Also, ALSO, they ‘named’ their tuk tuk (no problem with that, the bibliobus shall also be named) Ting Tong. From the character is Little Britain. You know, the Thai Bride one that conforms to just about every racial stereotype going. And although they checked that Ting Tong doesn’t mean anything horrendous in Mandarin (because you’re not aloud to offend Chinese people, just Thai and Laon) it wasn’t until about a week into their trip they realised that, you know, Thai is a language. Oh My God.
If rich people want to raise money for charity and awareness of a good cause then I will do nothing but back them. Go have you £50 a ticket charity balls (where the waitresses still get paid less than minimum wage and are groped by the dignitaries-I speak from experience). Dress as a massive butterfly and jog around London with some random royal family member attached to your arse a la Richard Branson. But if you just want to piss about travelling, then go and take some more of the beautiful photos the centre pages were filled with, which I would have been chuffed to see more of, and don’t insult me with your post-colonial xenophobia filled boring writing. And then go and win an award from Cosmo who probably thought it ‘brave’ to fulfill most people’s wildest dreams of actually getting to leave the country. Then again, at £4 a pop, Cosmo is probably read mostly by other people who didn’t balk at the idea of quitting your job for six months!
In a few years, when hopefully I shall be earning a little more than I am now meaning I don’t have to borrow £50 off my younger sister for the last two weeks of the month, I shall probably re-read this book and love it, I shall think the authors incredible, and their feet astounding. But right now I, and millions of people around the world, could not afford a ride in a tuk tuk, never mind the lessons to drive one. They did mange to raise a hell of a lot of money though, and more awareness of mental illness, so well done them.