Anyone that has visited Bangkok will be familiar with the unique, and perhaps somewhat aggressive sound of tuk-tuks. Originating from an old-fashioned rickshaw during the second World War, a tuk-tuk is essentially a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. And wherever you go in Bangkok, you will no doubt hear the distinctive roar of their engines as they race around the city.
The name tuk-tuk is actually an onomatopoeia (a word that phonetically imitates the source of the sound that it describes), mimicking the sound of their small two-cycle engines. And the sound that inspired the name really does leave a long lasting impression on foreign visitors to this Asian metropolis.
A tuk-tuk ride varies in cost depending on the distance travelled, the time of the day, the traffic, and the mood of the driver. There are no meters, and trip costs are negotiated in advance, which is often an experience in itself. Once you have agreed on a price, you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
Tuk-tuk engines sound a lot more powerful than they actually are but in my experience, drivers always seem to think they are in a Formula 1 race.
In a slightly different perspective, here we can here just how the sound of tuk-tuks fit into the overall urban soundscape. I recorded the following recording whilst standing on the corner of a busy intersection.
Bangkok can be a very noisy place, but it can also be very peaceful as highlighted in this recording of birdsong in a quiet neighbourhood just behind the King Rama IX Bridge.