we are tuk tuk

Mobile libraries in Pakistan

Mobile libraries are having a moment, and at OUP Pakistan, we have our own! The rickshaw (or a tuk tuk as it is known in Southeast Asia) is painted with truck art, an indigenous form of brightly colored designs painted on cargo trucks in Pakistan, and converted into a mobile library. This rickshaw forms a part of the fleet of vehicles being used as Oxford Mobile Libraries, a project launched in 2012 as part of OUP Pakistan’s 60 years celebration.

The project aims to develop a library culture among the underprivileged children of Karachi, Pakistan and get them into the habit of borrowing, reading and caring for books. The mobile libraries visit schools in low income areas and students become members by paying a nominal amount as a one-time membership fee, which entitles them to borrow one book for a week. So far, this initiative has been helpful in instilling a reading habit amongst school children who have limited exposure to good quality books.

Photo Credit: Used with permission by Zehra Nasim.


It Started With a Bangkok!

My first stop in South East Asia is Bangkok! I am only here for 2 days because my dad has joined me and my mom did all of the planning. The schedule is packed. I’ll probably be back in a few months though,  since Bangkok is such a hub and also contains “backpacker’s paradise” Khaosan Road (literally a backpacking Las Vegas-type Convention Place that’s been around since before my mom traveled here in the ‘80s) which I haven’t properly explored because I am in “family vacation” mode.

Of course Bangkok is a standard first stop for South East Asian travel. Oh man, it is worlds different from the places I have been in Africa of late. I am so overwhelmed by the intricate details in gold and gems and… beetle wings on every temple or building of importance. 

After juggling jet lag and a quick culture shock, my dad and I started our first full day hoping to see some temples and the Grand Palace. We found a tuk tuk driver and told him which temple we wanted to start with. I showed him on a map and he said he knew where we meant.

15 minutes later, we arrived at what looked like a palace… next to a zoo. And it was a zoo. Buses on Buses on Buses of Chinese tourists were unloading at this location that…wasn’t the temple we pointed to on the map and definitely wasn’t the “Grand Palace.” Turns out it was  The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. I have no idea why the driver took us here, but I am glad he did. 

Once my dad and I maneuvered through the sea of tourists and realized we did not have to wait in line with them, we entered the palace. Inside there were displays of golden thrones, silk embroidered tapestries 10 feet tall, fantastic acrylic paintings, and the most detailed wood carvings telling stories of Thailand’s history and royalty. Every piece was absolutely magnificent. We couldn’t take photos but the silk tapestries are some of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen (it all kicks anything in the Louvre’s ass, sorry Paris). Most took many sempstresses and years to complete, but they were shimmery and mind-blowing. If I ever become wealthy, I will buy one of these tapestries. Even if it is small. 

After realizing what this museum was and feeling grateful that we randomly ended up there (I recommend it!), we hopped on another tuk tuk and hoped it would take us to the Grand Palace!

It kinda did. It took us to the neighborhood.

We had to walk a bit. On the way we were told that I would need to buy a shirt to cover my shoulders. I saw men and women of all nationalities and ages wearing typical Thai Elephant pants. Most had to buy these on the spot because they were wearing shorts. You must be well dressed to visit the most sacred place in Thailand! I thought a shall covering my shoulders and a dress covering my knees with ballet flats instead of my usual flip flops was enough, but I was wrong. Respect for the King is a huge part of Thai culture and it’s phenomenal. 

When I was finally dressed up enough, we were about to cross the street with a giant hoard of tourists to enter the Palace grounds when police men started screaming in Thai. The people who understood took off their hats and began to kneel. Everyone else followed suit. For the next few minutes, we all hovered over the ground as fancy cars holding Thai Officials entered the premises. 

When we finally entered the Palace Walls, it was a bee hive of tourist activity. Giant tour groups were assembling in every piece of free space. It was hard to find where to go and I got a bit overwhelmed. 

Once we walked into the Temple area where the Emerald Buddha is housed, I was even more overwhelmed. So many ornate, golden-tiled buildings surrounded us, climbing to the sky. Photos could never do the Majesty of this sight justice. I was beginning to have a bit of culture shock. I hadn’t seen this many tourists or intricate details ever in southern Africa or Madagascar and it was A LOT to take in. 

We walked into the Prayer Temple to pay respects to Buddha by sitting in lotus position with our feet pointed away from the shrine as a monk said a prayer over some Thai Buddhists kneeling ahead. It was hot and very busy but I think most people did their best to respect the religious rites unfolding before our eyes, despite the frenzied environment. 

After we left the temple area, we walked past the Grand Palace and read a bit about the former king who ruled for 70 years. He was a very multi-talented, highly respected man. 

After the Palace, we walked a bit down the street to find Wat Pho, the oldest temple in Thailand. This temple houses the famous “Reclining Buddha” which is GIGANTIC and awe-inspiring. 

Later that evening, my dad and I walked around Khoasan Road which is nick-named “Backpacker’s Paradise.” It is filled with bars, tattoo shops, henna shops, hair braiding stands, massage parlors, clothing stands (your typical colorful travel dresses and elephants pants- gotta get the look!), jewelry, and a mazillion other things like lights and music and activity that is SO OVERWHELMING to someone who just got off of an island where for two years I hardly participated in night-life. 

I bought some dresses. There are so many!!! But I do feel guilty since I try to be so minimalist… and stingy. Good thing Dad is paying for these few weeks. 

After a night of bad sleep thanks to jet-lag, a tour bus picked up my dad and me to go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market 90 kilometers outside of town. I was soooo tired but I hopped in the car and turned off my brain for an hour and half. Eventually we arrived at the floating market which was mostly a giant Disneyland, tourist experience. But it was cool and sometimes you gotta do the Disneyland Things. Most of the boats on the water were actually canoes of tourists, but there were also paddle boats carrying cold spring rolls and fresh fruit floating around. It was all kind of silly, but still unique and I am glad we went. 

After the floating market, our group went in a speed boat along the canals to see the houses and agricultural life around the brown waterways made by the Chinese. It was super cool. 

Once we returned to the city by mid-day, my dad and I took a cab to check out a random part of town and ended up in the financial district. After that we took a cab to Chinatown and explored a bit before I collapsed from exhaustion. I normally don’t pack this much activity into an average day because I am traveling for many months/years and it is a marathon. I also just left winter in Africa and came to summer in a tropical, humid climate, so my body is confused. 

Anyways, Bangkok has been fun to explore. I am pretty sure I’ll be back, but I am glad I have already done the most touristy things (and didn’t have to pay for them) so next time will be more chill!


DVICIO Interview from OK Magazine Thailand 🇹🇭 (Issue 271)

🇹🇭 Q1 : Is it your first time in Thailand? Do you like or impress anything in Thailand?
🇪🇸 Martín : We have never been to Thailand before, this is the first time. When we arrived and saw many fans waiting for us at the airport, we were surprise because we didn’t expect about this, surprise and impressive in all of Thai fans.

🇹🇭 Q2 : How did you feel with lot of the Thai fans waiting at the Airport?
🇪🇸 Andrés : I am very happy with the warm welcome. We were so far away from our home, when we saw Thai fans waiting for us at the airport, so impressive.

🇹🇭 Q3 : Do you know that your band is famous here with Spanish song, not English?
🇪🇸 Martín : We are really surprise with the feedback in Thailand. We don’t expect that the song is famous with Spanish language, though it’s not English. Maybe the song rythme, so the fans can be enjoy.

🇹🇭 Q4 : Apart from the car, the bathroom and the beach, where is the next place you will upload the clip on Youtube?
🇪🇸 Andrés : We want to sing on the Tuk Tuk in Thailand (Tuk Tuk - motorized tricycle taxi) with Paraíso. (As you can see they already did and uploaded on the DVICIO Facebook Page and Youtube)

🇹🇭 Q5 : How did the feedback from the clip on Youtube effect or change your life?
🇪🇸 Luis : When we saw many people watch it (the view amount on the clip), we were very happy and didn’t think with so many feedbacks like this. This made us the courage to record more clips to all the fans.

🇹🇭 Q6 : For those who don’t know about DVICIO, what is your style and lyric?
🇪🇸 Andrés : Most of the songs we composed by ourselves and we were dedicated all of them. If you would like to know more, you have to join our fan meeting. For the lyric, it’s depends, like love or feeling to the situation around us. The most important thing is this written by our feelings and we want to present to the fans.

🇹🇭 Q7 : What is your favorite song in Justo Ahora album?
🇪🇸 Missis : I like Nada. We played this song in the recently concert, it was impressing and got a great feedback from the fans.
🇪🇸 Martín : I particularly like Enamorate. Because of this song made me to explore the new journey, travel to many countries, including in Thailand (smile)
🇪🇸 Andrés : I like El Secreto which is the last song in the album, I like it.
🇪🇸 Nacho : I like Se Te Olvido Quererme, personally like the lyric and melody.
🇪🇸 Luis : I like Rebeldes. It is a joyful, when I play this song, I feel more energy and lively.

🇹🇭 Q8 : Do you think the appearance is important to be an artist?
🇪🇸 Nacho : I think it is related to the appearance as well. We don’t focus on that much, what we focus is hard working, intention and concentration to do the best for the album.

🇹🇭 Q9 : You may know each other so well cos you are always together, can you please tell us what kind of the girls you prefer, don’t tell your own
🇪🇸 Andrés : Nacho prefers kind, sweet and have a beautiful face.
🇪🇸 Martín : Missis prefers easy to laugh, humourous and curvy girl.
🇪🇸 Nacho : Andrés prefers lively, cheerful and humourous.
🇪🇸 Luis : Martín prefers kind, good at dance, has a beautiful teeth because he used to be a dentist.
🇪🇸 Missis : Luis prefers tall girl and love outdoor activities.

🇹🇭 Q10 : What is the best admiring word you received from girls?
🇪🇸 Andrés : A girl told me that I was the reason she studied Spanish, she wanted to talk with me and understand what I said. (smile)
🇪🇸 Martín : A girl sent a note to me that she was failed and depress for her situation in the future but DVICIO’s song can help her to get through that bad situation.
🇪🇸 Nacho : A girl told me that when I was playing guitar, she felt like I had sex with her, like it’s sexy (shy) ☺️
🇪🇸 Luis : A girl told me that the food I cooked was better than Paella (laugh)
🇪🇸 Missis : I once got the admiring word that I was the most beautiful smile boy (smileeeee) 😄

🇹🇭 Q11 : If you can bring Thai fans to Spain in 1 day, where will you go?
🇪🇸 Luis : I will take them to eat Tapas, Tapas is a snack in Spain, one of the tradition of Spanish food. We will order to drink together with fresh beer. I choose this because Thai fans can understand Spanish culture.
🇪🇸 Andrés : I will take Thai fans for a walk in the public park in Madrid because the atmosphere is nice and there are many interesting things.
🇪🇸 Nacho : I will take Thai fans to Ávila city in Spain, where is surrounded by the big famous town walls, the walls are really beautiful. My mother also lives there. Then I will take them to eat steak with the famous local restaurant.
🇪🇸 Missis : I will take Thai fans to watch the concert in Spain, so they will know more about Spanish singers and Spanish song style.
Martin : There is a main road in Madrid, I will go for a walk with Thai fans, then watch some movies.

🇹🇭 Q12 : If you are on the date, how do you get dress?
🇪🇸 Andrés : I will dress perfectly but not so much things. I don’t want the girl think I put everything on, too much (smile) The most important thing is the pants should be comfortable.
🇪🇸 Martín : I will tie my hair like today (interview session) and perfume. Oh I will be naked to date a girl, so she will impress and recognize me and come back to date with me again (laugh) 😂
🇪🇸 Luis : I will wear a nice jacket and nice scent perfume because a perfume could be a trap that a girl can fall in love with me (smile)
🇪🇸 Nacho : I will wear boots and a long coat (knee level)
🇪🇸 Missis : I will wear skinny jeans and red socks because personally when I wear red socks I will be lucky (smile)

🇹🇭 Q13 : What is the different between Thai and Spanish fans?
🇪🇸 Nacho : It’s beyond expectation that Thai fans love us so much, but I like it. Everyone is lovely, crazy on us and they have a passion to follow us. About Spanish fans, we would like you to go and see by yourself in Spain.
🇪🇸 Martín : The fans in Spain depend on the region, most of them are girls but now the boys are increasing.

🇹🇭 Q14 : What is your favorite international singer or band?
🇪🇸 Martín : I like Mana, a Mexican rock band and sing in Spanish.
🇪🇸 Luis : My idol is Coldplay, a rock band from England.
🇪🇸 Nacho : I like U2, a rock band from Ireland
🇪🇸 Missis : I like The Script, a pop rock band from Ireland.
🇪🇸 Andrés : I personally like Bruno Mars.

🇹🇭 Q15 : Can you teach some Spanish to Thai fans?
🇪🇸 Nacho : No Te Vayas - Don’t leave me
🇪🇸 Andrés : Guitarra - Guitar
🇪🇸 Luis : The instrument that I play Bateria - Drum
🇪🇸 Missis : Paraíso - Heaven, one of our song name in the album
🇪🇸 Martín : Buenos Días - Good morning

🇹🇭 Q16 : What do you think about your band in the next 4-5 years?
🇪🇸 Luis : I want to see DVICIO come back to Thailand again and have a concert tour.


🇹🇭 DVICIO in Thailand, a great moment of DVICIO in Thailand

🇪🇸 We hope that the relationship between Thai and Spain is constant. DVICIO brought all of their love singing for Thai fans. Especially when Andrés was waving Thai-Spain flag together, how come we don’t fall for him!

🇹🇭 DVICIO was impressive with Thai fans, Luis and Nacho were crying in the concert.

🇪🇸 DVICIO recorded the song Paraíso on Tuk Tuk, they pleased all Thai fans

🇹🇭 DVICIO in a chilling day, Martín ate corn while Nacho ate guava. They were down to earth and enjoy Thai lifestyle.

✨ Source : e-book OK Magazine Thailand (capture screen)

Hope you guys enjoy this interview 😚😘
Khob Khun Ka 🙏🏼 Thank you Gracias



Okay i tried translation

i’m sorry if I make a mistake in a sentence :P


S: Hey, you know what?
He won’t listen to what I say today too!
I’ve told him so many time, “stop it”!

P: huh, we failed in conquest ‘cause Lord Hater ignored my plan as ever. *tuk tuk tuk*

S: it’s happy for me.

S: but- when I thought “I’m so dead”, after all he’s dependable.
He is really amazing
I did the usual hug with him

P: but he said to me “your plan is marvelous”
I’ll spare no effort to Lord Hater to become the greatest in the galaxy…*sob*

S: Wipe your eyes…

S: Okay let’s call it a night.

P: we’re gonna keep working hard

S: naturally

both: OUR PAL!

So Thursday night we slept in the jungle, near Vang Vieng, Laos. We trekked right up into the mountains with a really great local guy called Lala, who we actually met at the bar he runs (Lalaland- go visit if you’re in the area!). La grew up around the jungle (when he was about 15 his dad took him into the jungle for 22 days and left him alone!) so he knew what he was doing. We left wednesday morning, took a tuk tuk to the edge of the jungle and crossed a river. We first walked through some underground caves, under the base of the mountain and the climbed up a ladder built by La into the forest. We hiked and climbed in crazy heat via waterfalls to our camp spot, where we built a bamboo treehouse and a bonfire (turns out you can build pretty much anything with bamboo, banana leaves and a machete) and then trekked back again the next day in even hotter temperatures (I didn’t know I could sweat so much). I was incredibly achey the next day (also didn’t know I could ache so much), covered in tiny cuts and bruises but it was amazing, and definitely an interesting story to tell! The mountains here are beautiful. More jungle adventure photos to come~

August 16

We woke up at 4am to meet our ramork (like a tuk tuk) driver for the day to explore the Angkor temples. After reading all the reviews that said doing it in one day would be a disservice, we decided on the 3 day ticket so we could explore them at a comfortable pace [NOTE: if we were to do this again, we’d just do the 1 day ticket and have a busy day….that’d be more than enough!]. Our hostel packed us a breakfast to go of toast and fruit and we were off!

We got to the ticket office at 5 am to get our tickets then headed to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. Although it was a bit of a dud (too cloudy to see any sunrise) it was a cool experience. A bunch of blogs I’m following suggested a quite route for the day to avoid the big tour groups so after day break we got an iced coffee and went back to our driver for the day, Pumid. We made our way to Angkor Thom (walled city) and hit up Beyon (our favourite of the day), Baphoun, Terrace of the Elephant and Terrace of the Leper King. Beyon had about 37 peaks in the temple, each containing 4 carved faces (presumably a representation of the King it was built for or a Buddah).

We then had a snack break by some fans and a cool drink. I think it’s hotter here, or maybe just more humid than Thailand…..either way it was 100% gross today to be outside, and here we were wandering through some sandstone saunas!

After our break we went to Preah Khan (our 2nd favourite of the day) that was covered in ancient trees with the roots all exposed and intertwined with the crumbling walls. Finally we made it back to Angkor Wat to see the enormous temple. Although immense, we didn’t really enjoy Angkor Wat that much! The crowds were ridiculous and it was very much like a standard temple (as opposed to the neat ancient ruins of Beyon or Preah Khan). Definitely a bucket list checkmark, but we don’t need to come back. Unfortunately there wasn’t really a sunset so we headed back to the hostel for a well needed shower!

Dinner at a restaurant down an alleyway from the main street and then in bed by 10pm, what a long day!

Pyry Kääriä and Juho Sarno, both 31-year-old circus artists from Finland, are on the journey of a lifetime as they drive from Bangkok to Helsinki in a Tuk-Tuk – the Thai version of the three-wheeler not much different from the rickshaws frequently seen in Pakistan.

Kääriä and Sarno reached Pakistan a week ago, and are excited to continue their journey. “Pakistan is an amazing country,” Sarno said, adding, “In other countries, we have seen people try to build an illusion about their homeland, but that is not the case here. Pakistanis are far more vocal about the problems they face.”

“In Finland, we see Pakistan through the very limited and mostly negative lens of the media. But being here, we have found it to be completely different,” Kääriä said. “Our experience has been totally different from what we see in the media – Pakistanis are adorable people,” he added.

Kääriä and Sarno have named their Tuk-Tuk the “Vehicle of Peace”, because they say, everyone rides it and it is open from all sides.

“It’s a rollercoaster ride. We got stickers printed in Rawalpindi that say Awam ki Sawari in Urdu, to use during the rest of our journey,” the pair said.

The pair recounted some of their more memorable experiences in Pakistan.

“We needed a mobile SIM card but didn’t have a local registration number (CNIC). I asked the mobile phone vendor to let us use his mobile to call my contact in Lahore, but he was out of town,” Sarno recalled. “And then the shopkeeper called a friend, who called another friend, and we ended up following a motorbike through the traffic, to a place called Gulberg II, where mechanics fixed our Tuk-Tuk while we rested amongst plants in a nursery,” he said.

Neither of them could speak Urdu, and none of the mechanics knew English, and yet Sarno says they communicated easily with facial expressions and hand gestures. The pair say this has happened often in Pakistan, and that language is not a major barrier here.

“Since we entered Pakistan I haven’t felt threatened even for a second,” Kääriä said, adding, “Pakistan is indeed a peaceful nation.”

Sarno and Kääriä spent some time in Bangkok as teenagers and were so inspired by their brief trip that they began their journey in Thailand. They entered Pakistan through the Wagah border crossing from India. They travelled to Murree and then arrived in Rawalpindi.

“I have never seen a planned city like Islamabad in my life,” Sarno said. “I regret that I could not drive the Tuk-Tuk in Islamabad,” he added.

“Compared to what we experienced in India, Pakistanis are totally different. From officials to the common people, they are generous, and everybody tries to make things comfortable for us,” Sarno said.

Kääriä and Sarno explored different parts of Rawalpindi during their time in the city. “Seeing so many people waiting for food at Murree Road, just before sunset, we joined them and they shared their food with us,” Sarno said. “Everyone was waiting for the sun to set to break their fast, but several people asked us to eat before the Azaan,” he added.

Resource: dawn.com