Blog post by Nampet • August 22, 2023

As I reflect on my whirlwind of Year 9, it dawns on me that life has a way of blending classroom lessons with real-world adventures. My year was marked with academic accolades and the memorable Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Still, it was the heartbeats and hums of Thailand that added an unexpected twist to my year. From delighting in exotic dishes to cherishing moments with family, every experience became a cherished memory. Dive into this blog post as I share the roller coaster of my Year 9 – where achievements met adventures at every turn.

Celebrating Academic Achievements

I’ve finally reached the end of year 9, and I’m very happy to end the year with great academic achievements. I received the award for academic excellence at prize-giving, awarded to the top 8 exam results in the end-of-year exams.

The Duke Of Edinburgh Expedition: Practice Walk

I went on my Duke Of Edinburgh Expedition in the second to last week of term. This lasted for three days, two nights, and one day’s practice walk. On the practice walk, we walked for around four and a half hours, accompanied by an assessor, to practice the skills we had learnt on previous training days. Luckily we only had small backpacks, so it wasn’t too bad of a walk, but we were tired still. Once we got back to camp, we still had to set up our tents and make dinner on the gas stove, so by the time we finished, we were all worn out and went to bed early.

The Duke Of Edinburgh Expedition: Triumphs, Obstacles, and Teamwork

It was more challenging on the real expedition, as we had to be out for at least 6 hours and navigate independently, leaving a break where we had to cook our lunch. 

The first day went well, as my group didn’t get lost. Despite being the second to last to leave, out of the seven groups, we were the second to arrive back at camp. Once back at camp, we set up our tents again since we had taken them down that morning to put in our bags to carry around. 

After pitching tents, we started on dinner; with soup for a starter; pasta with cheese and tomato sauce for the main course, then chocolate cake for dessert. 

On the second expedition day, things got more complicated when everyone was really exhausted from two days of walking and being woken early. We had to be fully packed and leave the campsite by 8 o’clock, so we had to be up before 6 am. 

Once our group left the campsite, we realised it would be a tricky route to navigate. We got a little lost and confused about which way to go a few times. But in the end – with the help of a couple of passers-by – we returned to camp and completed the expedition.

Embarking on a Thai Summer Vacation

After the last day of school, Mum and I went straight off to Thailand to visit our family and enjoy the start of summer. 

Bangkok is a fascinating city with vibrant markets and nightlife; it attracts so many tourists it emerged in one survey as the most visited city of 2023. It contrasts greatly with London, as they don’t have any concept of risk assessments! To board a passing bus – they don’t always pull over – you have to risk crossing the traffic to the middle of the road, and it may not even stop completely… There are stray dogs everywhere, but perhaps unsurprisingly, very few cats are to be seen. Freshly cooked street food is everywhere, all day and night, even in the suburbs where my grandparents live.

Culinary Adventures in Thailand

Eating out there, I most love ‘moo kata’ – the Thai barbecue – which is quite a unique experience. This starts when a man wearing a protective glove carries over a pan of burning charcoal to place on the table. A cone-shaped grill is placed over the top, where raw meat is cooked, and the juices run down the sides into hot water to make a broth, with vegetables added to absorb flavours from the meat. It’s a good idea to wear long sleeves, as I found out to my cost because it’s really easy to splash the boiling water cooking on the table right in front of you! 

Another food I enjoy is ‘kow mein gai todd’, which is Hainanese chicken rice served with delicious soup. We ate in a sushi bar where they served freshly made sushi and sashimi – with the fish flown in that day from Japan – but great value still with dishes from less than £1. The bubble teas that have become so popular in the UK were everywhere, and for less than 50p, with many flavours, I still preferred the original Thai tea.

Journey to Lopburi: Monkeys, Memories, and More

We went out to a rural province called Lopburi to visit my great-grandmother. The place is famous for the monkeys in the provincial capital that live on the streets, rooftops and disused buildings. They run between the traffic and swing from the electric cables – often to their detriment! They are skilled at stealing and are best described as gangs, so it’s good to have your wits about you and nothing too valuable on show. 

I love my great-grandmother; she’s quite a survivor and never seems to get older, although we don’t know her true age. This is because when she was growing up, the official ‘date of birth’ was simply when a child was first taken into the city, and the form was completed to be registered. This was often only before they started school – so on the day the child was officially ‘born’ they could be already running around and playing out with their friends! It seemed all too soon that our time was up, and we were heading back to the UK, having stocked up on bargainous clothes and food for the foreseeable. As a treat, Mum bought me a ‘mon khang’ to bring home, a form of long cylindrical Thai pillow.

Returning Home: Ballet Dreams and Looking Forward

Since returning from Thailand, I am already looking forward to returning to school and can’t wait to start on GCSEs. The week we finished and left on our travels, I took my RAD Grade 7 Ballet exam. I should have the results in time for my next blog post, but I trained hard and felt it went well, so am hopeful for a good grade.