Eight days in one city is not something I would usually relish. Even at home in Perth, I rarely spend that amount of time in the city in a month. So when I found myself booked to supervise a tour for work to the Global Round of the World Scholar’s Cup in Bangkok, Thailand, I entered the experience with mixed feelings. On one hand, I am loath to turn down any opportunity to whip out my passport, however on the other, eight days supervising teenagers as they compete in an academic symposium does not sound like the most exciting of experiences. Thankfully though, the students under my charge were wonderful, and the World Scholar’s Cup is a blast!
My job on the trip was to organise a bit of sight seeing during the rest days, and to keep my eye on a team of fourteen year-old scholars as they debated, wrote essays and took exams along with around 3,400 other bright young minds from over 50 countries.
While this trip might not afford the same level of travel writing material as many I’ve undertaken, It’s a fine time to reflect on a slightly different area of travel. Today, I’m writing from Bangkok’s Central World Mall. I’m sitting in a dimly lit – yet classy – bistro catching some lunch and escaping from the crowds of shoppers and delegates as the competitors get to know one another through a team scavenger hunt through the centre (perhaps this is not the best day to be a consumer in Bangkok).
Through the balcony window, I can see the early monsoon rains cascading between the buildings as a young waitress idly draws on the misty glass with her fingers, awaiting the next influx of patrons seeking refuge from the torrent of shoppers. The bar’s brick walls and the outlook of skyscrapers, makes me feel like an extra in a New York sitcom waiting around for the stars to arrive. I can literally picture Barney Stinson walking in for an afternoon catchphrase!
Strange as it might seem, this slightly dreary and vaguely mundane scene evokes within me an electric mood, and it is exactly this atmosphere that makes me love travelling to cities – despite simultaneously loathing the crushing crowds and the bustling energy. The hidden nooks and alleyways, secluded bars and buried treasures make a week in a modern (the time has passed when we can look at cities like this as developing) city like Bangkok, a joy!
So, as my academics toil, let the rain fall, let the crowds throng and give me that secluded bar where I can watch it all go by. Perhaps, once the boys are safely back with their parents laden with medals and experiences, I’ll even come back for a drink!
I could spend time explaining the Scholar’s World Cup in greater detail, but for now, you can visit the website here for more information (it’s an awesome opportunity for cultural exchange, and to celebrate learning).