Skål, Skulls and Vikings

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Skål, Skulls and Vikings
Skål, Skulls and Vikings

Perched on top of Holiday Inn Resort Vana Nava, the Sky Bar, dominates the entire region and offers some stunning panoramic views of the city of Hua Hin. Under the stars and a step closer to Valhalla, SKÅL International Hua Hin & Cha Am held their annual Christmas gathering, after a grueling 8-months of lockdown and a ban on social gatherings. Skål International is an Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals which encourages and creates a network of contacts around the world.

Founded in 1934, today Skål International has a professional network of almost 13,000 members in more than 340 clubs in over 100 countries with one vision “To be a trusted voice in Travel and Tourism” and a mission “Through our leadership, professionalism and friendship work together to enhance our vision, maximize networking opportunities and develop a responsible Tourism industry”.

Ecstatic and happily surrounded by a delicious choice of wandering canapés, cocktail trays and laughter’s, Skålleagues, spouses and friends were finally able to assemble one last time before the end of the year. During the evening, I tried guessing how many knew the actual meaning of the word SKÅL, SKULLS AND VIKINGS By Richard Mehr ‘SKÅL’.

We all know how and when to use it; skål, cheers, santé…! But it is also a symbol, a fellowship and a name recognized worldwide, which bears a meaning and an origin. The most common early middle age translations refer to a beverage bowl or cup passed around the table or the campfire for each to drink from in turn.

By extension it became an expression for toasting and often the excuse for a speech, which a majority of Nordics in the hospitality and travel industry to this day, seldom resist after a few ‘skåls’ of Aquavit. A few words are often enough, preferably witty and giving thanks to the ‘Hostess’.

Our cherished Norse word apparently originates from the English word “skull”, Vikings after a successful raid, skillfully cleaned and adorned the skulls of their fallen enemies with gems. Used as drinking cup for mead, the fermented honey drink they fancied, the cup was passed around always from the Chief down, while tales of war were shared with all.

Throughout the 9th to the 11th century the Norsemen attacked and invaded parts of Ireland and most of the British Islands, eventually they settled and became farmers and embraced Christianity.

Even a terrified French king gave a Norsemen the Dutchy of Normandy. The ‘skål’ practice undoubtedly lived on through Hastings and most of the 16th and 17th century until today, enlightened Norse descendants often toast the All-Beautiful Maidens ‘skål’ to honor and courtship their beloved Lady companions.

A well-performed ‘skål’ is also a token of acknowledgement and friendship. Our stunningly beautiful Kingdom of Thailand is far from the icy fjords and Normandy, though the spirit still distinguishes our gatherings. The Skål Hua Hin & Cha Am community is an example of gratifying and creative togetherness and friendship. During these unprecedent times, it’s jolly good to enjoy a toast or two with a meaning. Skål! Skål Hua Hin & Cha Am gathers every last Wednesday of the month, for further information: https://www. facebook.com/Huahinskal

In the photo: From left to right: – Richard Mehr, Skal Hua Hin & Cha Am Secretary – Kanpitcha Kongsombat Whitty, Executive Director Flow Inter Co., Ltd (exclusive importer Paulaner) – Ammarawadee Cheovit, General Manager Springfield @Sea -Dylan Counsel, General Manager, Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua HIn – Stacey Walton, Skal Hua Hin & Cha Am President

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