It was with much enthusiasm and gusto that we set off on the journey from Johannesburg to Bangkok.
As it turns out, climbing onto the plane in Johannesburg was the easy part. The journey from Joburg to Dubai left us disembarking on the other side with a distinct feeling of sardines that had been cooped up in the tin for far too long.
Once freed from our ‘tin’ we had only a short time to make our transition to the next gate at Dubai’s vast airport. This is where our tale took a turn for the worse. One of our Grade 10s left his passport on the plane after disembarking (his identity will not be revealed since what happens on the WSC Tour, stays on the WSC Tour), though only realising this when he needed it at customs inside the terminal building.
Cue panic, slight mayhem and an increase in speed of movement from the leaner in question and Mr Bowker in support. As the two of them went off to find said passport, the rest of us were left standing around egging on the hopeful discovery of the missing passport.
Now, it is worth mentioning that we had only 30 minutes to get from our disembarking point to the next gate on the other side of the airport. The next minute Mr B came tearing around the corner telling that the passport cannot be found and we needed to get to the next gate – and pronto!
Let us say that those of us attending the WSC 2016 are here more for our intelligence than our God given athleticism. Nevertheless, running was a necessity at this point and to our disgust, we just had to get on with it. We cleared customs like gazelles galloping in the field, then onto what felt like 10km of running.
The journey took on a steeple chase type feel with the escalators being the first obstacle. The reason they were an obstacle is because we had to conquer two gargantuan sets that rose up into the Dubai skyline by running on the way up. Our steeple chase became the Comrades Marathon at this point – with one bystander offering to splash our athletes with water on the way past. Amo cheered as she mentioned that he climb would allow her to burn off some of the calories she had been consuming on the form of take away food over the past few day. We looked to her as the leader, the pace setter, we expected great things. Amo neared the escalator, running elegantly onto the steel grate at the bottom. The moment of truth arrived, she stepped onto the escalator and powered into the first 5 steps, and then promptly stopped and rode the escalator to the top as if she had nowhere else to be. We had to put this moment of disappointment behind and turned to Gavin, Josh & Calem to lead the way. At this point Sergio looked like he had run 90kms and was nearing the stadium section.
We made it to the train, where we caught our breath. The train came to a stop and we were off again. Chariots of Fire was playing in the background as we rounded the final corner and met the Emirates ‘gatekeeper’ with a stern look of discontent on her face. We were 10 minutes late! After many apologies we were allowed onto the plane. Passengers welcomed our blood red faces and sweat soaked brows with looks of disgust and displeasure.
We didn’t care, we made it!
Mr Bowker and our ‘naughty’ WSC colleague were fortunate to locate the missing passport and boarded a flight to Thailand only 1 hour later. They jumped onto the flight and are now safely back with their ‘herd’ once again.
We boarded our bus that took us to the hotel. We were hosted by a man named Kit who provided us with words of wisdom about Thailand and Bangkok. Our favourite story was one which he told about how Starbucks uses coffee beans made from Raccoon ‘chit’, that has more flavour than the beans have before they are consumed by the raccoons. Needless to say that some of the diehard Starbucks fans were none too amused to hear of this practice.
The Hotel is awesome! It is a 4 Star establishment in the heart of Bangkok called the Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel. At 23:50 Bangkok time, we decided that we were hungry. This made sense to us since it was only about 7 o’clock back home – our usual dinner time.
We met a lovely Indian fellow in the lobby of the 19th floor of the hotel, quite by chance. After a brief discussion of his origins and his love for AB de Villiers (who doesn’t love AB?) he informed us that McDonald’s was not more than 5 minutes away. I’m sure I saw Katherine and Cailin shed a tear of joy at the news. The sheer look of excitement on the faces of our lot was all the motivation we needed to get ourselves down to Macs.
After having our fill of the usual Macs burgers and fries we have returned to our hotel, with most of us longing for our beds.
Tomorrow brings with it a visit to the South African Consulate in Bangkok where we will provide the staff with ‘goodies’ from home and they will provide us with some displays that we can show off at the World Scholar’s Cup. After that we are going to investigate the Thai markets and shopping malls.
We’re looking forward to it!