The Thai life and it’s warm environment within our grasp is what was waiting for us in Chiang Mai, with Toto, at the Swiss Lanna Lodge! (Back to May 2015)
Chiang Mai, the 6th biggest city in Thailand today, lies in the ancestral province of...you guessed it, Chiang Mai.
Located 800km to the North of Bangkok, this city looks like a small village, its clusters of districts offering numerous strolls.
Downtown Chiang Mai is, to this day, a witness of a rich historical past, home to several temples, gardens and architecture styles, making it an obvious tourist destination.
Wat Phan Tao temple, wooden architecture nearly two centuries old
Chiang Mai was chosen as the capital city of the Lanna kingdom in 1259. The Lanna dynasty left a durable trace of its influence on the city.
The Swiss Lanna Lodge could be qualified as a small hotel by some, as a luxurious guesthouse by others. It’s actually both.
Toto contacted us by email right after we landed in Thailand. Speaking French flawlessly, she graciously invited us to visit her team and herself at the Lodge.
Tatup was of some interest to her, and she wanted to meet with us!
After a couple of emails, we learn a bit more about her: she’s a young francophile thai woman who decided to learn French. Her love for her country is contagious, and she loves spreading her culture and knowledge to English and French speaking visitors.
Avatar de Toto par Delphine
Her establishement was new, and less crowded than it is today, so she had a room for us. Our trip being minimalist, we were conflicted: it was difficult for us to even consider renting a room for more than 8€.
But the more we exchanged mails, the more we felt the need to meet !
But after exchanging a few more emails, we were intrigued, so we struck a deal with her. Our competence at her service, in exchange for the room. And voilà!
We were not used to this kind of standards anymore, so it was a bit awkward to settle in at first. And it was "just" the Lotus room.
We were trandsfered to the Pasha room the following day (the name is fitting, with a gigantic bed, the shower located outside and a jacuzzi in a private garden!)
Toto is the manager of this cozy establishment, striking the perfect balance between simplicity and high standards. Everything is spruce, every piece of decoration carefully chosen. When Toto explains her coaching comes from Switzerland, it becomes obvious. The name, for starters, but more importantly the palpable precision replacing the usual Thai approximation.
Speaking of, here’s a fine example of approximation: We arrived two hours late at our destination, the bus tickets I had booked in advance "accidentaly" sold to another person. We had no choice but accept our fate and wait for the next bus. I advise patience in this case. Anything else would only get you a smile, and a sudden amnesia of the English language. The famous Thai smile, the real diplomatic tool of the country.
Long story short, our welcoming party couldn’t have been better. The staff members of the Lodge had been waiting for us with a vegan meal done especially for us. Heartwarming!
Suffice to say this kind of attention had us invested swiftly in a contribution of our own. I taught a bakery class (as well as I could considering the lack of tools), and became the photograph for their social networks...
...while Delphine was illustrating an advertising brochure and painting a poster.
Old habits die hard, so naturally we blended quickly into the family schedule, tagging along with the Chef during the morning at the organic market instead of playing the tourists.
Toto managed to book a visit at her zero chemical soap and shampoo supplier who use organic fruits in their product.
Learning culinary secrets from the Green Curry Soup to the Tom Kha Kai, we got to understand a lot more about the refinement of the Thai culture.
We ordered every dish on the menu, feeling we had a role to play as clients!
Nowadays, the Lodge’s business is booming! It can be difficult to get a room for our traveling friends if we don’t plan ahead.
We got used to walk to the Nightmarket.
Supposely, no one should have been remaining on streets after the 8 pm curfew...
but tourism is a main activity in the coutry. Therefore police and army patrol for safety. So we still could have dinner out. How about some veg’ streetfood!
And a «meme» avatar cushions and wallets...
To be continued : Chiang Mai (Part 2) - Saï Khna Dok festival