Western tourists take a ride on cyclos in Ho Chi Minh City. The cyclo was invented by French industrialist Pierre Coupeaud in 1937 who first introduced them to Phnom Penh. In 1939, he brought the first cyclo to Vietnam by traveling from Phnom Penh to Saigon – it took 17 hours and 23 minutes to travel the 200km distance.
Ho Chi Minh – Long Read

Moving faster than they can pedal

Photo by Neil Setchfield

Ho Chi Minh – Long Read Moving faster than they can pedal

Hello Ho Chi Minh, where the cyclo has been the king of the often pot-holed roads ever since French colonialists first introduced them. However, these rickety three-wheeled bikes are now considered archaic, banned from many city roads and under threat from mass motorized transport. The cyclo driver is a dying profession in a country that is moving faster than they can pedal.

Juliet Coombe
Juliet Coombe

“Clickety-clack! Clickety-clack!” My cyclo-driver’s three-wheel bicycle taxi clips along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, his muscular calves pumping at the pedals behind me as monsoon rains come down like a blanket of water. The hood on the basket that is supposed to keep me dry has seen better days and, as the ripped canvas flaps in the circling winds, large drops seep through to leave me sodden. Mong cannot afford to be bothered by the terrible weather, though. Falter for a moment and another driver will be along to sweep up my business in seconds.

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