All across Asia, the rickshaw reigns--as trusty public transportation, tourist attraction, or both. Tony Wheeler and Richard l'Anson traipsed thousands of miles, from China to Indonesia, to ride, photograph, and otherwise investigate this inveterate Asian taxicab. They visited 12 cities in all, traveling through Agra, Calcutta, Hanoi, Macau, Penang, Singapore, Beijing, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Manila, Rangoon, and Yogykarta, following the wheel ruts of the rickshaw--or trishaw, sidecar, pedicab, cyclo, or becak--depending on which city they were in. The result, other than some callused posteriors, is a splendid homage to a transportation tradition. Wheeler explains the history of the cycle-rickshaw, why it remains such a popular and omnipresent form of Asian transport, and how it varies from country to country. The book is studded with glossy photographs of the various riders (the people who pedal, as opposed to the passengers), and rickshaws put to all sorts of uses. Pictures show rickshaws laden with freight (11 metal containers), or children (10 school-bound kids), as well as a close-up of Mohan, an Agra fellow who, at 65, has been riding rickshaws for 40 years and typically makes one to three dollars a day. We see Beijing rickshaw riders, enthused about their jobs, pleased with the freedom of movement, the decent pay, and the healthy exercise--and the rickshaw men of Calcutta, who are pullers rather than riders. Hand-pulled on wooden wheels, Calcutta rickshaws haven't changed much in a century of use, and they own the streets during monsoons, when the more advanced machinery of the auto bogs down. And Dhaka, the world's rickshaw capital, is populated by more than 300,000 rickshaws. Elaborately decorated and often jammed in downtown rickshaw snarls, they dominate local traffic. And so the stories unfold across the continent. Rickshaws provide more than a focus for the book--they allow for an unusual, educational, and intimate portrait of Asia.
From Library Journal
Human-pulled rickshaws have mostly vanished from the Asian landscape, but pedal rickshaws can still be found in many places. Known as triciclos in Macao, cyclos in Vietnam, and trishaws in Malaysia, they carry their passengers in front of the pedaler in Indonesia, in back in India, and on the side in Myanmar. Though they remain a major form of everyday transportation in Bangladesh, they primarily serve tourists in Singapore and are banned in Jakarta. In this stunning coffee-table book, the first from Lonely Planet, picturesque photos and crisp, pertinent text tell the story of rickshaws today, including interviews with operators, technical comparisons, and information on where to buy them. This will be a popular book in public libraries.?Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland
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