Skal Chiang Mai August meeting; tea, elephants, Bollywood and inspiring speakers!

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Skålleagues were treated to a special evening at Monsoon Tea on August 25 with owner Kenneth Rimdahl talking about the origins of tea and using sustainably grown tea in forest settings and a special speaker Paralympian Andy Barrow.

The evening started with tea based cocktails and mocktails and special visitors Cheri Aung Khim and her team of chefs from her Green Elephant Restaurants in Myanmar. Cheri is a founding member of Skål Yangon which has twinned with Chiang Mai. Cheri announced that her team was in Chiang Mai to learn Thai cooking as she was adding Thai food to the menus of her restaurants in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. Cheri sent greetings from Skål Yangon members and invited the group to visit Yangon again and asked members for help in introducing shopping and other activities to Myanmar people visiting Chiang Mai.

President Tim McGuire of Old Chiangmai announced the upcoming Christmas Gala Fundraising party at Le Meridien Chiang Mai hosted by Greg Andersen. The event will be held Tuesday December 13 and tickets are available from Tim at Old Chiangmai, Vice President Annette or from committee members. Tim also asked for members and friends to donate for the raffle and auctions for the event. Every year the gala raises funds which go to the Mae Mha School and Orphanage. Tickets are 1500 baht in advance. Contact for more information.

Committee member Shana Kongmun is also President of the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club and announced that the club is holding a fundraising party at Art In Paradise on September 30 at 7:30pm. The Club will have the entire museum for their “A Night in the Museum” party. Tickets are 800 baht in advance, 1000 baht at the door, children under 14 are 400 in advance and 500 at the door. All funds raised will go towards CMIRC’s projects including Children’s Swim Safety and Children’s Eyesight projects. Contact Shana at for tickets.

President Tim also announced local member Frank Sethi of Fashion King’s upcoming popular event “Bollywood Extravaganza 2016” on October 15 at Skål member Stella Jacobs’ Holiday Inn. Contact Frank at 0929383988, Vanita at 0817335914, Ineke0896368801, or Holiday Inn K. View 053-275300 ext 1083 for tickets.

Additionally Elephant Parade will be coming to Chiang Mai in December, a very exciting for the city and one everyone is looking forward to, it will start December 9 and run through January 15, 2017.


Speaker Andy Barrow then took the podium to talk a bit about his extraordinary life and his philosophy. “Your life is a result of the choices you make” he started. He suffered a spinal cord injury playing rugby that left him in a wheelchair when he was 17 but he returned to the game he loved, playing wheelchair rugby, captaining Britain’s team from 2005 to 2010 and playing in three Paralympic Games, three World Championships, and five European Championships, where his team won three consecutive gold medals. He talked about his experiences at the London Olympics saying it was “indescribable to have it in my hometown.” Also he reminded people the Rio Paralympics are coming up, starting September 7 and running to the 18th.

He said after he quit playing he realized that a large part of athletics is giving back, he started speaking about 4 years ago and wanted to prove he could run his own business, having never held a job outside playing rugby in his entire life. He came to Chiang Mai recently and spoke at Sri Sangwan School for kids with disabilities, and wants to encourage disabled Thai athletes to be role models for disabled kids in Chiang Mai. He wants to empower kids and said that Shrewsbury International School has been a great help, bringing him to Thailand to speak at the school and enabling him to visit schools in Thailand. He encouraged students to look up to Thai athletes like the gold winning fencer Saysunee Jana and other athletes, “Everyone needs role models, including kids with disabilities. They need to see people they can be like.”

Andy closed with three rules for life: 1. Say yes as much as you can. 2. Give 100%. Some days your 100% may not be as much as others but still give it and 3. Appreciate the moment.

UntitledVice President Annette Kunigagon of Eagle Guesthouse presented Andy with a certificate of thanks and President Tim gave him a Skål Chiang Mai polo shirt.

Everyone was impressed and inspired by Andy’s enthusiasm and view on life and enjoyed speaking with him during the dinner which included tea based dishes and Northern favorites.

The Skål toast was given by Cheri from Skål Yangon in Thai and Skål Chiang Mai member Stella Jacobs of Holiday Inn in English.

After dinner, while everyone enjoyed a “chabrulee”, Kenneth Rimdahl of Monsoon Tea explained the background of tea and his journey towards providing tea grown in an environmentally sustainable manner. He noted that organic tea does not mean environmentally friendly since they are grown in a monoculture manner that removes forests and blocks animal migration.

Monsoon Tea provides tea grown in the forest, the tree is much stronger and has more tannin so it doesn’t need pesticides; the soil remains fertile so it doesn’t need fertilizers either. Leaving the forest in place allows for animal migration and allows the villagers to grow other plants, some grow coffee as well. He noted that there are tea trees that can live in the wild as long as 1,500 years old, tea has been used in food by villagers in the North for centuries, usually fermented and eaten long before it was dried and made into tea.

Kenneth plans on implementing tea tours to Lahu villages so people can see tea being locally grown and offer special courses in tea as well. He is working to make Thai tea more famous and was proud to add that Prada will be offering Monsoon Tea in Italy.

Vice President Annette Kunigagon presented Monsoon Tea owner Kenneth Rimdahl and staff with a certificate of thanks for hosting this month’s Skal Chiang Mai meeting.