‘From ecstasy to terror’: Hongkongers to endure rough and noisy ride on 1,000km Sri Lanka charity tuk-tuk trek

Charitable endeavour will take five Hongkongers and 36 others on a rough ride

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 September, 2015, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 September, 2015, 4:50am

Renowned for being noisy and dirty, Asia's iconic tuk-tuks are usually used for short trips around a city - but what if someone wanted you to ride in one for more than 1,000km?

What began as planning for a 50th birthday party at a pub in Singapore has ended up as two dusty drives across India and Sri Lanka in tuk-tuks, the motorised three-wheeled vehicle popular in South and Southeast Asia.

The India adventure was undertaken in 2013, and next week, 41 businessmen from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan will embark on their 1,059km endeavour through Sri Lanka - in both cases to raise money for charity "Pimp My Tuk Tuk".

The upcoming trip will take them from the capital Colombo in the east, all the way to Jaffna in the north and then down to Matara in the island's far south.

Hong Kong consultant Chris Knop, one of five Hongkongers taking part, said he had never ridden in a tuk-tuk before.

"We all get tuk-tuk training on the first morning up in Jaffna and hope for the best," he said. "I think the most challenging, difficult or even scary part will be the traffic we'll encounter. There are pretty busy roads."

The journey starts on Thursday, with the finish scheduled for September 27.

More than US$110,000 has been raised so far for Sri Lanka's Foundation of Goodness and Singapore's Food from the Heart.

It’s the second trek undertaken by Pimp My Tuk Tuk – in 2013, some 20 businessmen drove across India to raise about US$80,000, some of which was used to build a school.

Pimp My Tuk Tuk founder Alex Longman said the idea for the event came when one of his friends was discussing what they would like to do to mark their 50th birthdays.

“[We] said we should do something different. Well, what if we ride tuk tuks across India? Everyone there said they’d do it and from that point onwards we started getting organised.”

Longman said the first journey had been an incredible experience.

“It was just every single emotional point you could imagine,” he said. “Absolutely ecstatic and fantastic, to terrifying.”

Knop said he expected the journey would take a bit of endurance. “It’s mainly driving [but] I guess it’ll be a case of probably being a bit sore after a few days on that first tuk tuk,” he said.

“They’ll be pretty rough and ready and noisy I think.”