Walking the streets of Chiang Mai, I was repeatedly approached by Thai men offering to take me on tours with set stops. There were two types of tours that were most popular. One tour was focused on animals and stopped at the tiger kingdom, the monkey school, the snake farm, and the elephant camp. The other tour was shopping oriented and stopped at an umbrella factory, a leather factory, a silk factory, a lacquerware factory, and a jewelry store.
One of these Thai pitchmen held a territory at a street corner near my hotel. He owned a red pickup truck called a songtao, a type of taxi. His name was Somboon. Every time I saw Somboon, he’d offer to take me on a tour. So one day my friend Pim and I chose to go with him on a shopping tour. While we didn’t buy anything, it was interesting to see how the umbrellas and silk were made.