Here’s how to have the perfect conference experience, using the example of the IPBA-THAC Arbitration Day in Bangkok on 6 November 2018.
First, plan on going the day before. Attend one more yoga class right before you’re off to the airport. Then, fly to Bangkok. Arrive when there’s next to no traffic on the road so the Grab ride is smooth and you wonder why the same trip took you three times as long the last time.
At the hotel opposite the conference hotel, hear the receptionist say they’re upgrading you to some suite. Before you go to bed, watch a lot of Fashion TV and SpongeBob SquarePants. Drink all the strawberry infusion and jasmine tea you can find.
The next morning, run into the THAC’s Litsan Chong first thing as you arrive at the conference venue. She has organised this conference and moderates a part of it. Meet old and new friends, arbitration lawyers and fellow trade law colleagues from when you were an IPBA member more, um, regularly. Enjoy insightful sessions on topics such as ‘Are established arbitral institutions subconsciously biased towards the appointment of civil law or common law arbitrators?’ Honi soit qui mal y pense.
Hang with capacities in the field of arbitration such as Eckart Brödermann, Andreas Respondek or Christopher Boog. Fly with them the flag for more civil law procedure in international arbitration. Have lunch with the THAC’s Elle Pitchaporn Noomnam, although she doesn’t eat dessert.
In the afternoon, overindulge in muffins, tea and coffee. Click with fellow arbitration practitioners like Elaine Wong. Meet, albeit briefly, Rouven Bodenheimer.
As the train station is right in front of the hotel, go back to the airport using public transport instead of a taxi. Wear full business suit while doing so. Find everything immediately, thanks to Andreas’ descriptions, regardless of you having to change trains twice and it being rush hour. In Bangkok, mind.
At the airport, notice there are no queues, neither at check-in nor at immigration. Have a strawberry-raspberry smoothie, a piece of pepperoni pizza and a coconut ice cream lolly. Have more time than you initially thought you’d have and decide to head over to this pub for an honest pint or two. Bond with a theatre stage hand from Melbourne who’s had the same idea and forget why both of you are at the airport.
Remember why two minutes before they close the boarding gate.
On the plane home, read Mahita Vas’ second novel, It Happened on Scrabble Sunday.