Buffet breakfasts are becoming a bit boring and tiresome if we’re honest. The squad has gone from eating 4 or 5 helpings / courses to just 1, maybe 2. We’re looking forward to coming home to our regular breakfasts of All-Bran, Weet-Bix and Mielie Meal.

We were up really again this morning in order to take a bus ride to a temple no more than 10 kilometers from our hotel. In the south of Joburg, 10 kilometers will  take you a maximum of 15 minutes to travel – maybe 20 minutes if you’re slowed down by taxis and Sunday drivers. Care to hazard a guess at how long it took us by bus?

This is central Bangkok. Bumper to bumper traffic from 7:00 to 21:00. The upside of where we are situated is the locality of the shopping malls and the Convention Center. Walking is good for us. We have walked approximately 86 kilometers during our time here, according to an app on my phone. That’s quite impressive if you consider that we have almost walked a Comrades Marathon and most of the ‘herd’ appears far better off than they did when they had to run to the plane in the in the ‘mini Comrades’ on day 1 of our journey.

As good as the walking has been for us, the downside has been that the Bangkok air has definitely taken its toll. At any time of day and more so if we’re outside, it feels as if our chests are being compressed slowly by some external force. The combination of the humidity and the pollution of the passing traffic has been a hindrance but it seems that our lungs have had enough. My breathing this morning had me thinking I had become Darth Vader, though unfortunately I didn’t have a cool light-sabre to go with it.

It took us almost 40 minutes to reach the temple. The visit however, was awe-inspiring. The buildings are made with maximum attendance to detail, each roof, wall and opening matching the one adjacent to it. It was amazing to see the world’s biggest Buddha made entirely from gold. The plan to bring it home did not come to fruition unfortunately, we decided that we need to put a little more thought into such a large endeavour. We walked around the temple complex and saw various other Buddha sculptures, tombs and places of worship. We then took a short trip to another temple which houses a very large ‘lying Buddha’ which is made from from brick and mortar and thereafter covered in gold leaf. The Buddha measures approximately 40 meters long, a very impressive sight to see.

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The scholar’s had not had enough shopping yet so we spent 2 hours at the MBK Mall pottering around and purchasing many items as gifts for others or for ourselves. When purchasing items in Thailand it is very important to be vigilant of fakes or copies. The locals like to advertise their products as original but shoppers must be very alert and aware of fakes being passed off as originals. A few of our scholars have knowingly purchased copies of original items due to the large discount in price compared with back home. The longevity and durablility of the products is yet to be seen.

There was time for a brief nap at the hotel before we needed to get ready for the final trip to the Convention Center for the closing dinner and closing ceremony.

The dinner was very nice, and more importantly, very tasty. We had the choice of chicken or fish on the set menu. The starter was a cream of pumpkin soup, mains were chicken or fish and dessert was chocolate cake. It was a nice way for us to share our final meal at the Scholar’s Cup since everybody was looking smart and were on their best behaviour.

The closing ceremony took place over a time period of approximately 2 hours. The ceremony’s format is slightly different from the awards evenings we are accustomed to since thousands of awards need to be handed out over the short period of time. The category is called out and then names are listed on the main screen in reverse order until the top 10. Thereafter each scholar’s name is called out individually. Our scholar’s needed to have their wits about them since the names are flashed on the screen at an immense pace. Blink and you’ll miss it, literally.

Our scholar’s performed very well. Micaela, Ethan, Meyric, Taylor, Calem, Amo and Lerato all received individual medals and Micaela, Taylor and Lerato received a medal for their team performance. More detailed results will be published once final results are published. Mr B received an Alapca Coach award for his efforts in getting his teams to the WSC and for his / our generous gifts of South African goodies and tops for Daniel, Burch and Sara. The top African performers were from a Nairobi school – qualifying to attend the final round in Yale University. Congratulations to our fellow African competitors.

Our time at the World Scholar’s Cup has been simply incredible. We have laughed, cried and fought but we have also learnt many new things, experienced new experiences, gained new friends and grown both emotionally and mentally. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here and we look forward to next year’s event with the aim of achieving bigger and better things when we return.

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