The founder of Local4Local, a project which established mobile food pantries for the impoverished – especially cyclo drivers – during the Covid-19 lockdowns, has announced plans to shatter a Guinness World Record and build the world’s largest cyclo.
Taing Huang Hao launched Local4Local in April 2020, with the intention of supporting elderly cyclo drivers and families living on the streets.
A 4th year student of Supply Chain and Operation Management at the University of St. Thomas, USA, he was unable to return to his studies after becoming trapped by Covid-19 travel restrictions during a March 2020 visit home.
He believes that breaking the record will attract tourists and preserve this unique form of transport.
“The construction of the giant cyclo will promote cyclos – which have excellent potential for sustainable tourist transport,” he told The Post.
He announced on social media that the Guinness organisation had responded positively to his enquiries, and he was eligible to attempt the record for “largest tricycle in the world”.
He plans to produce a cyclo which measures 13.2m high, 12.2m long. The wheels will have a diameter of 5.5m.
The first ride of the monster machine is scheduled for November his year, although he has not chosen between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Battambang as the base for the beast.
“We would like to invite you to join us later this year in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap or Battambang. In the future, we hope this giant cyclo will be the centerpiece of a museum which showcases the different vehicles of each era in Cambodia,” he announced.
Originally, he was set on Phnom Penh, as it is home to between 250 and 280 cyclo drivers.
The 23-year-old said, however, that the artists who collaborated on the project also suggested it be done in Battambang or Siem Reap, both excellent locations.
The founder of Local4Local – which began with mobile pantries that operate under the slogan “Take what you need, donate what you can” –saw Siem Reap as a good option as there are also cyclo drivers working there, and the Angkor tourist sites would provide an excellent backdrop.
A veteran artist in Battambang also suggested tying the cyclo’s launch with a festival that celebrated traditional Khmer culture.
Huang Hao said that on the day of the inauguration of the giant cyclo, he intended to organise concerts, performances from artists and exhibitions of paintings as well as other activities that would attract both domestic and international tourists.
“I would like to stage a mass cyclo ride to see the paintings. I really want the elderly cyclo drivers to see the results of our record attempt. I also think the novelty of the machine will attract younger people,” he added.
Huang Hao plans to establish a museum of cyclos and other vehicles. It will display the giant cyclo and other vehicles such as French cars, Khmer rickshaws, motorcycles, ox carts and other traditional means of transportation. Visitors will even be able to try their hands at riding a traditional cyclo.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the proposed giant machine will need to be taller than the current record holder, and must be able to ridden no less than 100m.
The world’s largest tricycle was manufactured and ridden in Hyderabad, India in 2005. Built by Kanyaboyina Sudhakar, the tricycle is 12.67m high, 11.37m long, with the wheels’ diameter of 5.18m.
“I am discussing the construction details with Sambath, the president of the Cyclo and Career Conservation Association, who has plenty of contacts with the blacksmiths who build and maintain cyclos. I am also in talks with a tyre manufacturer in Vietnam about the possibility of producing one-of fwheels for the project,” he said.
Although he is in the early stages of planning, he expects to attract plenty of attention and support for the unique project by announcing his plans as early as possible.
He hopes to be joined by Phare Ponleu Selpak, UNESCO, Phnom Penh Capital Hall and the Ministry of Tourism, as he thinks the massive machine will promote tourism in general, and the cyclo sector in particular.
He explained why he focused on cyclo drivers.
“Riding a cyclo is one of my earliest memories with my grandmother, who passed away three years ago. I remember taking a cyclo to school, or to the central market. As everyone knows, the number of cyclos decreases year on year. I do not want them to disappear, so I am trying to find a way to show people the uniqueness of the cyclo, and their potential as tourist transport,” he said.