The Tale Of Thailand

Andy Barrow- Cultural Centre, Chiang Mai, Thailand

It started in January when we were on holiday in Thailand. I’d pondered the idea of speaking internationally for a while and combining work and play definitely appealed to me.

So many times as an athlete, I’d been to an amazing place and simply not had the opportunity to see the sights and explore the culture. However, with speaking, while I’d still be there to do a job, the line between delivery and down time wasn’t so apparent. Basically, I’d still have the chance to enjoy my surroundings when I wasn’t on stage.

Back in Thailand, my wife and I were slowly falling in love with Chiang Mai and brainstorming about how to return as quickly as possible. Suddenly the idea hit us – a good friend of our worked as a teacher at Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok. This seemed like too much of an opportunity to pass up so we got in touch.

An Opportunity Taken

Barely a week later, I found myself delivering an impromptu seminar to a group of aspiring athletes at Shrewsbury International. Thankfully, we impressed the school, despite us arranging the visit at very short notice. We left Bangkok with a glowing testimonial and a whopping great foot in the door!

Andy Barrow - Shrewsbury Seminar

Andy speaking to aspiring athletes at Shrewsbury International School

During our visit to Shrewsbury, our hosts hinted they might be interested in me returning later in the year. With this in mind, I began researching other International Schools in Thailand as well as looking up different organisations that may be open to having me along to speak. (If we had to chance to get back to Thailand, why not make the most of it?)

A few weeks later we received good news after an email exchange and a couple of Skype calls. We’d been officially invited back to Bangkok to deliver a tailor made programme of speeches and workshops to the students at Shrewsbury. Now it was time for the real work to start!

Saying, “Yes” to Thailand

One part of the story that I omitted earlier was the fact that we’d already made a commitment to return to Thailand in the summer of 2016. I mentioned that Alison and I were pretty smitten with Chiang Mai. We were having coffee in a café, when I saw a guesthouse across the road with a level entrance. A luxury in Chiang Mai for a wheelchair user!

We decided to wander in and ask if they had a room on the ground floor. They did and it was empty, so we took a look inside. It was great; nothing fancy, but pretty spacious. It had an en-suite wet room and I could get around the bed. We asked how much it would cost to stay for a month, not really sure what to expect. It came to the equivalent of around £150. For the whole month!

Being relatively inexperienced longer-term travellers, we couldn’t believe it was so cheap. So, after a quick chat, we decided to book the room for the month of August and worry about the logistics when we got home.

It was just the boost I needed to get some work lined up for our second trip. Shrewsbury International School was an incredible opportunity, but I knew there would be many others to explore. I’ll talk about these in my next blog!

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