Promoting diversity in Asia: Bangkok

Andy Barrow speaking at the Inclusive Education Forum in Bangkok

After a two-hour drive, we arrived at our Airbnb apartment in Bangkok. Once we’d navigated some “accessibility issues” (more on that another time!) we unpacked and wandered around our new neighbourhood.

We spent the weekend seeing friends and watching England win the Six Nations (though not the Grand Slam, unfortunately!) We planned to so some sightseeing over the next few days, but had so much admin to catch up on, unfortunately we spent much of that holed up in our apartment!

Esteemed colleagues!

Later that week, I was honoured that the British Council invited me to speak alongside Education Ministers and the British Ambassador to Thailand at an inclusive education conference.

This is something which is more in its infancy there than it is in the UK. But everyone on the panel spoke passionately about why this should move forward, as well as plans on how their policy will be put into practice soon. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for the morning, but it was heart-warming to see so many people there who want this to happen.

Andy Barrow being interviewed by Nation TV in Thailand

I returned to see some colleagues at the British Council again to speak to their employees later that week. But before Nation TV interviewed me about my career and attitudes towards disability in Thailand and the UK. It was a great opportunity to put my thoughts across; especially as they are not as far behind other parts of the world as they think! Check out the interview here.

We also caught up with Paul Rotherham and Stephen Holroyd at Shrewsbury International School, where we thrashed out some ideas together on how we can work together in future.

An attempt at Bangkok sightseeing…

Before we left for Singapore, we decided to attempt some more sightseeing and head to Lumphini Park. What a bad idea that turned out to be! Complete tetraplegics, like myself, cannot handle extreme heat very well, which quickly showed when the mercury hit 38-degrees!

We attempted a walk around the gardens, which lasted 30 minutes before we sought refuge in an air-conditioned café. We ate and hydrated, then tried again, but the heat only increased, so another half an hour later we left to catch a cab home. Except there weren’t any…

After ANOTHER half an hour trying to find a taxi, I was really feeling the strain of the heat. We took a break from waiting at the side of the road and found a shopping mall. I’ve never been so happy to see a Starbucks in my life! One sugary drink later to perk me up and we braved the outside again. Thankfully, a lovely security guard hailed down a cab for us and we went back home.

Managing my condition in a hot country is a challenge sometimes and it’s disappointing when some days are cut short. Luckily, Bangkok is such a bustling city and there’s plenty to do once the sun goes down. So we recharged and went to a lovely Speakeasy-style bar that evening, before flying to Singapore the next day.

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