Trishaw Uncle Pte Ltd is the one and only licensed operator for trishaw tours in Singapore appointed by the Singapore Tourism Board.
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Should you happen to pay close attention during an outing in the Chinatown area, you'll notice that there are quite a few statues immortalizing a form of transport long gone. Long before automobiles rule the roads in Singapore, the main mode of transportation in colonial Singapore were trishaws, mainly run by immigrants from places such as China hoping to start life afresh in this new place of hope.
Trishaw uncles are part and parcel of the fabric of Singapore culture and such a valuable part of our heritage should not be left neglected. There are precious few opportunities to meet a guy who has made trishaw ferrying his livelihood. As such it was a pleasant experience to be able to sit in a trishaw and being ferried around. Born in a generation whom is used to getting from one part of Singapore to another quickly with modes of transportation such as the MRT, bus and a car at my fingertips, I found the trishaw ride painfully slow. However, slow does not mean that taking the trishaw is a bad thing. The slow pace opens a new window for your appreciation of Singapore as you take in details off places that you travel past that you find you have not noticed before. Moreover, it gives you quite a realistic experience of the hard times of the bygone days as you observe the exertions of uncle in trying to get you to your place as well as the heat within the trishaw, which is not outfitted with air conditioning that I have become accustomed to and taken for granted in public transportation. Literally, a blast into the past!
All in all, the trishaw is something I'll recommend more for cultural tours and appreciation of local heritage. If you're rushing for time, its not pragmatic to take it.
I've been working at Middle Road recently, and I've been noticing these Trishaw uncles cycling with a passenger or two besides them frequently on the roads. It really is a scene. Many tourists around me usually stop to take a few pictures of the trishaws on the road, one behind the other in a straight row.
I feel that it is good that the Singapore Tourism Board has licensed these uncles to ride trishaws for a living, because most of them have probably been doing that their entire life, that has become part of their life. Also, it serves as an important reminder to Singaporeans of our past, and how hard people used to work just to get by.
Sadly, I think the number of uncles wanting to work as trishaw uncles are dwindling, and it only makes me wonder if the business would sustain for future generations to see.
Many years ago, if you passed by Albert Complex or Fu Lu Shou Complex, you would see rows of trishaws there. And if you paid closer attention, you would notice that some of the trishaw riders were not really that old. At least not old enough that I would classify them as uncles.
Those were also the days that you would see colourful trishaws and also loud trishaws. Some trishaws were equipped with flashy Christmas lights while others were equipped with very loud sound systems.
Recently, I passed by the same place and there were not that many trishaws anymore and also the trishaw riders were really uncles now. I wondered is it they had found another base or is this a sunset industry?