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Burmese night for Skålleagues

Skål members and guests join on the patio for the group photo.

By Shana Kongmun
The most recent Skål meeting had a Burmese theme as travel and tourism professionals in Chiang Mai turned their focus to our next door neighbor on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at the Rachamankha Hotel hosted by General Manager and Skål member Paul Walker.
A special welcome was offered to visiting Skål Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard President Tony Malhotra and new member Martin Venzky-Stalling of Chiang Mai Creative City was presented with his Skål membership certificate and congratulations were offered to both Martin and new member Carmen Mauthner of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi.

Speaker Armin Schoch is joined by Swiss Honorary Consul and General Manager of the Legend Chiang Rai Marc Dumur.

Armin Schoch, formerly of Diethelm and now of Impulse Travel talked briefly about the conditions in Burma noting that the country still had a way to go in terms of infrastructure development as well as resolving political conflicts including the Buddhist – Muslim sectarian violence that has recently erupted.
Armin, who ran tours in Burma in 1994 – 95, noted the big changes including the removal of the requirement of exchanging $200 into FEC currency, the dropping of the currency that is just for tourists as well as additional flights and relaxed visa restrictions. However he noted that there were still many things that needed to be done including the redrafting of the Foreign Investment Law, as well as new tax and banking laws and noted that import/export regulations were being relaxed.

Young Skål member Jessica joins President Annette Kunagigon, Pattaya Skal President Tony Malhotra, Saranakom Chutima of the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center and Greg Anderson, General Manger of Le Meridien Chiang Mai.

Armin reported to the gathered group that the main issue with travel and tourism in Burma is the lack of facilities, noting that if someone wanted to stay in a five star hotel or take a special cruise then advance booking of at least a year was required. Classic destinations such as Pegu are overcapacity. He said, “I think we will need to wait 3-4 years to tell how the problems will be addressed and how the government will work with the Army. We need to wait for the dust to settle and get a more normal situation to see where and what you can get before moving in.”

New member Martin Venzky-Stalling of the Chiang Mai Creative City Committee receives his official membership certificate.

Armin felt that Burma opening up would be beneficial to Northern Thailand as land borders open and more direct flights between Chiang Mai and Burma are added. He concluded noting that he was concerned as the disparity between rich and poor in Burma grew larger.
Next month’s Skal dinner will be held at the Fujian Restaurant on April 25 at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hosted by Skal member Carmen Mauthner, the topic will be Chinese tourism. You can register online at

Cricket Sixes players party on at River Market

Stuffed Beaver and local resident Chas Begley is joined by Richard Prouse at the bar for the party held at the River Market.

By Shana Kongmun
The Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes hit Chiang Mai with a bang on Saturday, March 29, 2013,as players and friends packed the River Market to inaugurate the 26th San Miguel International Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes tournament that is held at the Chiangmai Gymkhana club. The party saw nearly all team members attend, even last year’s winders the Bashundhara Cricketers who came to the party late after an evening arrival into Chiang Mai.

Ios Malakas members wore their favorite hats for the party.
Teams from around the world and the region were on hand wearing their finery from the Awali Taverners in their striped blazers, quickly shed in the heat, to pink hair and hat wearing cricketers. Local favorites the UN Irish Pub and rivals Chiang Mai Warriors chatted during the party ready to battle it out on the cricket field the next day.
As always, the party saw everyone have a great time, Chiang Mai’s cricket visitors always enliven the scene when they arrive in town!

Awali Taverners always put on a bright display for the cricket party.

The Almar Cricket Club from Cape Town enjoyed the night out.

The Armadillos brightened up the place in their bright pink shirts.

Helping Hands at 3 Kings Monument

Children honored HM the King in their dance.

By Shana Kongmun
The Helping Hands Radio is a group of volunteer radio hosts on 93.25 FM and on Sunday, March 24 they held an open air radio show featuring the lineup of their regular DJs as well as speakers, performers and Public Relations Department of Thailand officials.

Students dressed as trees, pandas and other denizens of the forest for their dance performance.

Helping Hands Radio, as part of the PRD, is an English language station offering programming for residents and expats. The talks on Sunday included Sangob Foundation discussing permaculture and the. The evening, entitled “Following H.M. the King’s footprints” was bring together foreigners and Thai people to promote the ideas of H.M. the King about self-sustainability, and in particular about his theory of Sufficiency Economy.
Ajaarn Pramot of Mae Jo University, Khun Pallop and Mr. Bob Wiggins (related to the Royal Project Foundation) and Laurent Chiarelli (Sangob Foundation) each gave short talks on their work for reforestation and permaculture. There were Thai classical music performances, and children from a nearby school performed a dance in honor of HM the King and his environmental work. Jennie McGuire painted while Ralph Thomas played his flute and Ralph, Laurent and Poh Natasin of the College of Dramatic Arts improvised music from classical Thai patterns.
The evening ended with a 20 minute question and answer period centering on potential cooperation between the Royal Project and private NGO’s such as Sangob.

Officials of the PRD Region 3 join all the Helping Hands DJs onstage.

The dance performance paid homage to HM King Bhumibol and his works around the North and Thailand.

Paella party!

El Patio offers a big night out!

Visiting Pattaya Skål President Tony Malhotra dropped by to offer his congratulations to Joon and Chris on their new venture.

By Shana Kongmun
El Patio on Nimmanhaemin Soi 11 was the scene of a Paella and DJ Party on Thursday March 27, local residents dropped in to enjoy the food and fun. El Patio owners plan on holding the gathering every Thursday night.
Chef Victor whipped up a huge pan of paella, a rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Paella is a regional dish although most people identify it as a typical Spanish dish. Paella is made with rice and chicken, seafood or mixed and gets its name from the giant flat wok like pan it is cooked in.
Traditionally paella is cooked by men over an open fire and El Patio did not break with this tradition, with Victor cooking the paella over the fire.
El Patio offers fine wines and tapas and now, on a Thursday a hearty plate of paella followed by dancing to the tunes as the chairs and tables are cleared. El Patio will also be offering a special Songkran Sangria Splash on April 11, 12 & 13 from 5pm – Midnight.

Janet and Rin enjoyed the wine and paella on the outside patio that gives the restaurant its name.

Well known popular singer Lanna Commins dropped in to share a drink with El Patio’s Joon and Chris.

Boong congratulated Chef Victor on his fabulous food.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Burmese night for Skålleagues

Cricket Sixes players party on at River Market

Helping Hands at 3 Kings Monument

Paella party!