After our experiences with the demon tuk-tuk drivers of Bangkok, we were more than a little cautious about engaging the services of them again in Chiang Mai. So, when we needed a hand getting around and the first driver quoted us 100B, we moved on to look for other options.
Other options don’t take long to come along – another tuk-tuk pulled over within 20 metres and although he quoted much the same price, he had a friendly face and manner and we hired him. We were actually looking for different lodgings, having been underwhelmed by Lai-Thai Guesthouse, and we’d heard the Novotel had a good deal, so that’s where we headed. Alas, no room at the inn, but our driver found us sever other really nice places – same problem though – King’s birthday, everyone is in Chiang Mai.
When we left him, he scrawled a number on a piece of paper and the name Mr Dum, telling us he had a car. We promised we’d call if we needed one. Turns out we needed one the next day. We wanted to go and see some of the local ‘artisans’ – Silk factory etc. Mr. Dum did it all with grace and ease. One minor blemish when he asked that we visit a shop for him – the drivers get fuel kickbacks from the businesses. Actually, though, this one was good. A kashmiri carpet maker/vendor, he was so charming and his carpets so beautiful that we almost bought!
The next day we got him again – Orchid farm, and Elephant Camp. It sounds cheesy and in many ways it was, but again, Mr Dum would pop up at all the right moments – making sure we weren’t ripped off – translating, taking photos of us on elephants. Finally, he had a friend who was an elephant handler – a mahoot, who he organised to take special photos with us being ‘cuddled’ by an elephant. All very special!
At the end of the day we gave him 500B ($au20) which ended up being a tip of just 60B and he was delighted. Even came back later so we could write a reference in his little black book.
So, when in Chiang Mai – look for Tuk-Tuk 73, Mr Dum – I’ve even got his phone number if you need it 😉