W HILE toddlers can tell the bell of a passing balloon seller, and the horns of
motos, cars and trucks are instantly recognizable to all, the noises of On
Korn's cyclo often confuse people.
They might find that what sounds like
a wailing fire engine coming down the road is in fact only a little cyclo like
all the rest in Phnom Penh - except for its battery of lights and
Of the hundreds of cyclos which ply the Capital's streets, On
Korn has the most unique.
It is equipped with sirens which can produce
six screeching alarm sounds - including that of a fire engine, police car and
ambulance - and 18 lights, 10 of them mounted on the front.
customers and avoiding accidents were the main reasons why Korn decided to go
high-tech with his cyclo, and his efforts have been successful.
never had an accident while peddling the streets, and earns a fair bit more than
the average cyclo driver does.
Korn used to be moto-taxi driver but gave
that up about a year ago, when armed robberies were rife, to switch to a
He says his cyclo cost him $100 to buy, and he spent another $100
buying used car and motorcycle parts to spruce it up.
The cyclo is a
frequent sight outside the Diamond Hotel, where he flicks on his flashing lights
to attract tourists as they venture out to see Phnom Penh.
owl's life", he mainly works at night when his cyclo lights can be seen to their
Korn, a 33-year-old man with a Chinese-Khmer face, says
he usually earns 10,000-20,000 riels a day, much of it from foreign customers
who often pay $3 an hour to tour the city in his cyclo.
foreigners such as Japanese and Singaporeans usually pay well, others are more
"The French love cyclos very much but they pay little money," he
says, adding that the Americans are the same.
Some tourists pay him money
just to take photographs of his cyclo, which is just one of an estimated
10,000-15,000 cyclos in Phnom Penh.