PHNOM PENH – In Cambodia’s capital, motorbike taxis are everywhere – but it’s extremely rare to see women drivers transporting tourists. Those who do are judged harshly. Katya Cengel meets the young entrepreneur trying to change that.
When they show up at a Phnom Penh hotel in their tight red T-shirts and skinny jeans, people tend to get the wrong idea about Renou Chea and her fellow Moto Girl Tour guides.
“They think we’re not ‘good girls’,” says Renou, a slight 26-year-old with long dark hair. “They think we’re ‘bad girls’.”
It is an important distinction to make in Cambodia, where women who associate with foreigners are often assumed to be “bad girls” – or women who work in the sex trade.
“Sometimes they think that when we hang out with the men, it’s just like for sex or something like that,” adds her sister, Raksmey Chea, 23.
The Moto Girl Tour website doesn’t help, offering motorbike tours of Cambodia’s capital by “young and beautiful lady drivers”.
Because they are all young and beautiful, Renou doesn’t understand why advertising this might seem strange.
What is strange, at least in this South East Asian country, is women driving tourists. It just isn’t done, says Siv Cheng, owner of Phnom Penh-based CS Travel.
“Mostly, you see, all moto (taxi) drivers are male,” says Cheng.
Many women drive the little Vespa scooters and Hyundai motorbikes that zip around the city – everyone does – but they don’t usually carry tourists.
Renou got the idea after an aunt told her about schoolgirls offering a moto taxi service in Thailand.
Having ridden a motorbike since high school, and having studied English in college, Renou figured showing tourists around her city would be a fun way to earn money.
Having also studied accounting, she no doubt saw a good business opportunity as well. In 2015 almost five million tourists travelled to Cambodia, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.
Renou recruited her younger sister and Sreynich Horm, 22 – both as petite and pretty as Renou – and occasionally a fourth woman to be Moto Girl Tour guides.
But before they took their first tourists on board their bikes in early 2016, they had to convince their families that they would be safe.
Horm’s father worried that a foreigner riding behind her could touch her and do other things to her – things “good” virgin girls should not have done to them.
To make sure they kept their reputations safe, the women established a rule – no holding on to the guide, hold the handlebar on the seat behind you instead.
When they have night tours and tours outside the city they team up. Still, friends and family often worry about the women carrying around large foreigners.
At 4ft 9in (1.45m) and 6st 5lb (40kg), Renou is the “tall” Moto Girl. Her Vespa is more than twice her weight, but she gets upset when people think she can’t handle it or heavy loads.
For years she has been helping her father with his grocery store by making deliveries on her Vespa. Plus, as a woman, she believes she is actually a safer driver, something Hong Ly, guest relations’ manager at Mito Hotel agrees with.
“Tourists like girls who drive slow, not weave in and out of traffic,” said Ly, who keeps a stack of Moto Girl Tour brochures on her desk.
Source: BBC NEWS
MotoGirlTour is a company founded in Phnom Penh in 2015 and we are the only motorbike tour company that hires young and beautiful lady drivers.
Our girls are fluent in English, intelligent and knowledgeable about Phnom Penh and have excellent driving skills, something that is greatly needed in the chaotic traffic of Phnom Penh. As a tourist, we do not recommend that you ever try to ride your own motorcycle in Phnom Penh and we are not insured to let anyone drive our motorcycles.
We are a fully licenced moto tour service operator. All of our girls have a driving license and we are also equipped with security supplies such raincoats, helmets and a GPS system as well.
Book a Tour – http://www.motogirltour.com