VIDEO: Buzzing chariot draws crowds

WHAT’s that thing buzzing around Newcastle East? 

Look closer. 

Yes. It’s a tuk tuk.

Sticky Rice, an east-end Thai restaurant, has bought a tuk tuk off eBay. 

Malee Price, the restaurant owner, tells us it’s made from Thai parts and came with rego.

‘‘People see it and think Thailand,’’ Mrs Price, who comes from northern Thailand, said.

The tuk tuk, or auto-rickshaw, does home deliveries and ferries customers to and from home within a localised area.

 It’s a bit more fun than the bowlo courtesy bus.

We took a ride with driver Mick, who does it for fun. His chariot boasts three wheels, a two-stroke engine and the front of a motorbike. 

It doesn’t like corners. Fortunately, Newcastle peak traffic is less scary than the Bangkok rush hour.

‘‘When you use the brakes, this thing can turn on a 20¢  piece,’’ Mick said.

The restaurant’s bookings have spiked since the tuk tuk took the road a month ago, and Mrs Price would like to expand the fleet to two.

The name ‘‘tuk tuk’’, by the way, is a piece of onomatopoeia (a word that sounds like what it describes). 

It mimics the sound of the engine, and also the sound this tuk tuk makes when Mick goes over a speed bump.

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