Tuk Tuk Talks: Conversations in Cambodia


I promised a friend I would write a blog and call it “Tuk Tuk Talks” because there is never a dull moment when hopping on a Tuk Tuk to zip around town. This form of transportation that can be found in many parts of Southeast Asia is very fun to go on with friends. It is economical, simple, quick and if you are not one to be on a motorcycle it makes you feel like you are on the training wheels of a motorcycle. It’s the closest thing to being on a motorcycle, without being on one and you get to sit comfortably next to a friend while looking at two other friends as the wind blows in your face. If you pick one direction to sit, you see where you are going and the back of your drivers head. If you face the other direction you are where you have been and the air hits the back of your neck and you get to laugh at the face of your friends who are trying to make the dog face in the wind look cool. If you are in a congested part of any city, which is where these four or more seaters fly by, you have to speak over the wind and noise of traffic. You are literally shooting the breeze with your traveling companions. The risky feeling of the small box behind a motorcycle is that getting hit by virtually anything else on the road is an accident waiting to happen.

The wonders of different cultures! I was in Santiago, Chile in 2004 on my first international mission trip when I experienced life that was not sheltered from the comfort of my native culture and home. The advice I was given about how to acclimate to a different culture and place is to perceive it as simply different. Not better or worse, just different. When we make statements that place things in categories of better and worse we are making judgements of right and wrong. Instead of being neutral our mind is deciding whether we agree with and/or like the experience at hand. The problem with this black and White thinking is that it closes off your experience, trust and most of all equality with the new culture you are in. The way time is run in Santiago, Chile is different than how time is run in the majority of America. “How long will we be at such and such a place?” This question in Chile is arbitrary because time is not the deciding factor, preparedness is and until things are prepared then events don’t start. Preparation takes precedents over keeping to a schedule.

When will we go such a place or when will the next thing happen?  When it’s ready.  I think there is something deeply spiritual that is missed in our culture in the U.S.  We run everything by the clock, 8 to 5, two day weekends, 2 week vacations, 10 sick days…you name it.  We have deadlines and start dates that must be met.  We have rush hour to avoid or the carpool lane to make it somewhere faster.  Everyone has somewhere to be and they want to be there as fast as they can be.  Sometimes it is hard to wait, when things can be delivered in two days from an online order, waiting times are minimal.  We have people delivering packages that literally run from door to door, ring the bell and run as to keep to their fast paced schedule.  They are the ding dong ditching mail people.  If you are lucky, they even take a picture of where they placed the package for you to see in your inbox.

Time is money, time is of the essence and time takes a tole.  Whether I’m in Chile or Cambodia, the time is not counted by seconds but by experience.  We will get there when we arrive, we will start when things are prepared, we will finish when everything has been completed and we will most of all enjoy the moments.  We will dance in the rain to uncounted seconds and bask in the beauty of the sun setting on the drive home where the length of time can only be measured with the changing colors in the sky.

If you are ever in a country that has a Tuk Tuk, hop on it and just enjoy the ride no matter how short or long.  The experience will last as long as it needs to and you will always eventually end up where you are supposed to be.  Time will always move at the same pace no matter our location on earth.  We can’t speed it up, slow it down or stop it so you might as well enjoy the time for each moment given.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

In Truth & Love,

Matthew Diaz

Looking forward to your addition to this dialogue.