According to Wikipedia, the wheel probably came into being during the Neolithic Revolution when the nomadic manner of farming changed to a settled one. This would have brought new transportation challenges to farmers. The inventor would be utterly astounded at the evolution of the wheel from its rudimentary beginnings to the modern day motor vehicle. They would be equally impressed by the ingenious transportation contraptions that are fashioned by those who must make do with what their meagre finances allow.
Pedal Power: Africa
Having a bicycle in Africa is tantamount to owning a haulage business and a taxi service. A few modifications such as attaching flat metal sheets to the front and back of the bicycle make it ideal for transporting a large variety of goods. It simply takes the inherent balancing skills practised by Africans from the time they are able to totter around with a container of water on their heads. Loaded with household furniture, livestock or an astonishing number of passengers makes this balancing feat one that would not seem out of place in the Cirque de Soleil.
Pedal Power: Vietnam
Vietnam has been making extensive use of pedal power since bicycles were first introduced and the Xe Lói, or pulling cycle, is a method of travel equally popular with locals and tourists. It is said to derive from the earlier Chinese pulling cart that relied on a man’s running legs alone. Up to four passengers are seated behind the driver and facing in the opposite direction. Other adaptations like the Xich Ló have the driver at the back and facing the same direction as his passengers. It is an ideal way for tourists to enjoy the magnificence of the Vietnamese landscape.
Central America’s Chicken Bus is so named due to its non-bias regarding the species of its passengers. With chickens and goats being transported to and from the marketplace, this is not the most popular mode of travel for visitors. The vendors who jump aboard at every stop to make their sales pitch add to the general on-board chaos.
One of the strangest means of commuting or simply partaking in a thrilling downhill race must surely be New Zealand’s Zorb. This is a giant ball made of lightweight plastic with built in air cushions for protection in which the more adventurous traveller can hurtle down a hill. There are, however, inherent risks as confirmed by The New Zealand Herald who recently reported the death in Russia of one avid participant.
Travel by Totora
Totora boats date back to ancient times, but their speed and resilience still serve the local Uros tribes of Peru well. Used mostly for fishing, these boats are built to resemble dragons, which were believed to ward off any evil. As observed by the British Museum, the speed of these boats in transporting people or goods initiated a roaring trade and interaction with others that saw these tribes thrive.
The 21st century demands that humanity move faster if they hope to keep up with advances in technology and the manner in which business is conducted. Even in the remotest areas of the world the ability to transport people or goods is essential if communities are to retain the competitive edge so crucial in today’s market place. Where finances are an issue, necessity will continue to be the mother of invention and weird or unusual methods of travel will continue to keep the world amused and amazed.
This post is brought to you by Jackie, a writer at Transport Innovation, the transport group who are taxi contract specialists.