Posted by: thebluemusicblog | April 28, 2018


From the very first welcome at the airport in Chiang Mai you feel extraordinary welcome. Thailand is all about friendship, smiles and hospitality. Rachan, who is sitting at my left hand side on the photo below, is the symbol of all of those values. The rest of Rachan’s team of local YMCA staff and volunteers are working extremely hard to make the whole world feel welcome in Chiang Mai when the world comes visiting this summer, beginning July 8.

Jose Varghese is my staff member responsible to lead the technical and programmatic preparations for the 19 th World Council in Chiang Mai this summer. He and Andrew McKenzie and I flew to Chiang Mai this month to visit all sites, to meet with key people from local authorities and to get the final overview of how the preparations are going. Entering the lobby of the main conference Hotel Empress, I immediately felt the welcoming atmosphere. I was expected and welcomed like an old friend.

Already the same day we started the meetings with the hotel staff and the conference centre staff. We walked through the whole hotel from basement to the top floor and identified meeting rooms for groups, special events and seminars.

Later on we did the same with the three magnificent floors of the conference centre. The staff was extremely helpful and flexible, and we were able to solve most of our challenges and get answers to all our questions.

One of the challenges we sought to solve, was to find a good place for the group photo, Big enough and close enough to the centre not to waste too much valuable time. Here Andrew is on the top of the world testing the photo opportunities – a real Kodak moment!

We spent a lot of time in the main conference hall discussing how to put the chairs, the size and strength of the stage, arrangements for sound and light, translation and video screens. We have excellent partners both from Bangkok and Chiang Mai to help us deliver technical solutions!

In these days with all kind of unrest we have to think seriously about safety and security. Therefore we were received by the local Police Force and had a very informative meeting with the responsible leaders of the Police as well as with the group of Police officers identified to work together with us during the World Council.

This is the Captain leading the group working with the YMCA. It turned out that his son is learning English in the local YMCA!

This is from the meeting in the Police headquarter where we established an excellent relationship with the leaders f the Police.

We met with 25 members of staff of the local YMCA, working extremely hard to prepare all the different details of a huge event like the World Council is. Not the least all the excursions are a huge challenge. We are going in tuc- tucs and red taxis, in mini busses and large busses and we are going to a wide variety of exciting places to study the impact of the social change programmes of Chiang Mai YMCA. It will be a day to look forward to!

In between we have new meetings with the hotel staffs from three different hotels to coordinate meals and transport and added services. It all goes well and we are all the time dealing with excellent professionals in the tourist industry.

Finally we got together for a last group photo before we are driven to the Airport. 70 days to go to the 19th World Council.

You are warmly welcome to Chiang Mai! We shall be ready for you!


  1. We are ready to learn and have fun in fellowship with new friends from around the world. The World Fellowship of YMCA Retirees looks forward to joining all in Chiang Mai.

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