Welcome to our Lord Daddy Pimp Tuk of a blog, this first post is the tale of how Lucy the Tuk Tuk came into our lives and changed these 2 tourists into fully pledged locals. We offer advise on buying a Tuk in Sri Lanka and how to get the best deal.
Step 1 – Find a local that you TRUST
We were lucky with this, we were staying in a B&B ran by the lovely Henri Tatham in Galle called Kikili House, she has a great team of local people that have worked for her for many years and whom she trusts implicitly. The guy that helped us source Lucy was called Tashara, he has worked for Henri for many years and is almost her right-hand man, he was also a Tuk Tuk driver before the tsunami when tragically he lost his Tuk Tuk along with other possessions in the devastation of 2004. This made him the perfect host to our buying journey as he didn’t want to be seen as ripping us off as it would reflect negatively on Hen and the business, which meant he was probably the most trustworthy person out of the options we had (though we can’t be sure he didn’t take a small commission as we don’t speak the language and it is common practice for sellers to offer Sri Lankan tour guides commission when selling their goods).
Step 2 – Shop around
When Sherard was in England he had a lovely image of what this Tuk Tuk would cost and some pre-conceived ideas about the purchasing of the most widely used mode of transportation in South-East Asia. However, on arriving in Sri Lanka these pre-conceived ideas were officially put in an acid barrel and dissolved forever! Tashara took us in Henri’s Tuk Tuk (he had sourced and purchased for the business prior to our arrival) to view many Tuk’s he had either found from advertising in the newspapers or from friends recommendations, or indeed friends looking to sell.
The first few Tuk Tuk’s we went to see were completely out of our price range – we were being shown 4-stroke, low mileage, pimped out models that were priced at around $USD3000-$USD4000 the same price as decent car in England. I’m not gonna lie, it put a downer on the beginning of our search as we thought we would never find a model we could afford.
Now we must stress, if you are white the locals will think you come from money. There is a well-known ex-pat community in Galle and all of these people come from old money and so you cannot blame the local people for assuming all white people have this sort of wealth. This stereotype meant we had to keep stressing to Tashara we simply didn’t have the money for these models he was showing us and whether there were any cheaper Tuk’s out there. He struggled to get his head round this and showed us a few more models that exceeded $USD2000. Finally he realised we would rather have an older, beat-up model that runs well rather than a newer, expensive, decked-out one. This lead us on to the next stage of our journey…
Step 3 – Don’t get conned!!
After the intial search of out-of-our-leage Tuk’s we were finally looking at models that were more our sort of thing. We were taken to see a Tuk that was a little worn around the edges but seemed generally fine, the cost was $USD1400 which we were a little more happy with than the previous models. Tashara took it for a spin and on returning whilst the seller wasn’t looking shook his head at us, it was no good. When we left he actually informed us that the seller had told him that if Tashara had told us that the Tuk was good he would have given him LKR10,000 which works out at £GBP50 – the monthly salary for most local workers. We had to be grateful for our hosts honesty or we would have shelled out for a dud of a Tuc!
Step 4 – Be prepared to think about it
We were lead very much off the beaten track to have a gander at one of Tashara’s friends Tuk. The price was perfect (well as perfect as it was going to get) $USD1200, the seat was comfy and leather, the colour was black – brilliant however, it was beaten up, there was rust damage, dents and scrapes and generally not that aesthetically pleasing. We didn’t mind that though and started to concoct ideas about design, we could paint this and spray that etc. we wanted to buy there and then especially after looking for a few days, Sherard’s heart was breaking!! Tashara told us to wait and think about it which begrudgingly we did.
On the way home we quickly stopped in at a Tuc garage to enquire about the purchase of a Tuc, and boom! There was Lucy, she was without roof or engine but we knew then and there she had descended from the sky with the most glorious diamonds to ever have shone. The owner of the garage wanted the same amount of money as the beaten black Tuk we had just seen $USD1200, he had put a brand new engine in her, brand new paint job and new roof. She was painted with a purple undercoat and a white top coat making her a beautiful iridescent lilac. She is 22 years old, this sounds old but actually it is much better, it means all her parts are from one manufacturer where as more recent models have different parts from all over the world, the body is also much stronger in this model than the newer Tuk’s. She was a 2-stroke and she was perfect, we knew then this was our vessel, our vessel that would take us to such extraordinary beauty we would never return the same people that had left England. We were now travellers, life was our adventure and Lucy our ship.