Sunday, 30 March 2014
The Amazing Race 24, Episode 6
Colombo (Sri Lanka) - Alawwa (Sri Lanka)- Rambukkana (Sri Lanka)- Ambepussa (Sri Lanka) - Mount Lavinia (Sri Lanka)
In Europe, tourists are likely to think of Sri Lanka as a tropical beach destination that competes with places such as Thailand and Bali for their vacation business. There are nonstop scheduled and charter flights to Sri Lanka from many European cities, and ads for package holidays in Sri Lanka in the catalogs of mass-market travel agencies and tour operators.
From North America, on the other hand, there are no direct flights to Sri Lanka, and it's too far to go for week-long holiday. Some Americans might remember that the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke lived in Sri Lankafor most of his life, but they probably don't know if any of their friends have ever been to Sri Lanka.
The teams of travellers on The Amazing Race 24 liked the scenery in Sri Lanka, but not the tasks they had to perform.
The most dangerous of the racers' challenges involved directing traffic, on foot, in a crush of three-wheeled auto-rickshaws. Phil Keoghan, the host of "The Amazing Race", referred to these vehicles as "tuk-tuks". That's the usual term for them in Thailand and Southeast Asia, but in India and South Asia they are more often called "auto-rickshaws" or simply "three-wheelers" or "rickshaws", although the latter terms can also be applied to human-powered bicycle-rickshaws.
Auto-rickshaws are practical, extraordinarily manueverable, able to handle surprisingly rough roads (at least at low speeds), and fuel efficient. Older two-stroke models were notorious for noise and smoky exhaust, but current production is mostly of less polluting four-stroke models, many of them powered by compressed natural gas.
To the extent that collisions and injuriries are recorded, auto-rickshaws have a better safety record than you might expect. That's partly due to their relatively low speed, partly due to their maneuverability, and partly due to the fact that the frame forms a fairly effective integral roll-cage, as long as you stay inside it.
The racers note that the rickshaws are "like bumper cars". That's certainly been my experience. Glancing collisions between rickshaws are common, and sometimes the driver doesn't even seem to notice or care.
This makes it crucial never to let any portion of your body protrude beyond the roll-cage frame of the rickshaw. If you need to hold on to keep from being jostled, grab one of the internal cross-braces rather than wrapping your fingers around one of the outer bars where you could get your knuckles crushed or ground off.
Graphic signs in the auto-rickshaws used as school buses exhort children always to keep their hands, feet, and heads entirely inside.
As a pedestrian, give auto-rickshaws a wide berth -- you'd be amazed how sharply they can swerve -- and above all don't put yourself in a situation where you can get pinched in between two rickshaws.
That's exactly the siutation that members of the cast of The Amazing Race 24 were placed in by the producers o0f this episode. Fortunately, none of them got hurt. But don't try to emulate them on your next trip to trishaw-land.Link | Posted by Edward on Sunday, 30 March 2014, 23:59 (11:59 PM)