Year 9s swap snow and ice for heat and humidity on Bangkok exchange

As the sun sets on the first week of this year’s international exchange with Harrow International School Bangkok, Mr Robert Ellis-Paul writes home to Harrow

Saturday 24th February

I’m happy to report to you our safe arrival in Bangkok after a smooth and incident-free journey. We arrived to a hazy but warm and humid Bangkok where we soon met our contact from Harrow International School who directed us to our awaiting coach.

After another few hours we were ushered from the coach onto a boat, which sped us across to our island beach resort. Arriving by late afternoon the boys enjoyed a swim in the sea, a dip in the swimming pool, and as I write this are about to reconvene for supper.

We’re all looking forward to a day of snorkelling tomorrow.

Sunday 25th February

As the sun sets on our first full day in Thailand we are all recovering from an incredible day of island hopping, swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. It felt like an early start when we all embarked the boat at 9.00am, but the sea air and the refreshing water quickly woke us up. We were amazed at the array of fish swimming around our feet as soon as we stepped into the water. Even those more cautious swimmers in the group were soon enjoying the sights below the waves.

We stopped at several more spots before lunch – a simple meal of fried rice, chicken and fresh fruit enjoyed at picnic tables among the palm trees or on deckchairs on the beach. After rescuing our boat from the shallow beach where it had run aground we made a couple more stops before heading back to the hotel for a relaxed dip in the pool. As I write this we are about to gather for our evening meal.

Back to Bangkok tomorrow.

Tuesday 27th February

On Tuesday evening we went to a restaurant at Bangkok’s famous Baiyoke Tower. The Crystal Grill was an incredible place with the most delicious and extensive buffet I’ve ever seen. The boys particularly enjoyed the dessert section, and the clowns that dropped in to entertain the restaurants younger visitors. After dinner we climbed a final few flights of stairs up to the 84th floor and the open-air revolving viewing platform. The view over the city at night was breathtaking.

Wednesday 28 February

Wednesday was our second day in school. We had a ‘cultural induction’ from the school counsellors and also met the Head Master Mr Michael Farley. Boys were surprised to learn about some of the differences in socially acceptable behaviour and the level of respect required when referring to the Thai Royal Family. A few confessed to missing home a little, all said they were enjoying themselves. Later this morning boys will be having their first Thai language class.

After a quick swim in the hotel pool and a change of clothes we returned to school and to the boarding houses for another delicious evening meal and a chance to relax with some of our Harrow Bangkok colleagues.

Thursday 1st March

This evening we will be dining at the Central Chaengwattana shopping mall, and tomorrow we will be here at the school boarding house once more, with any luck, enjoying the barbeque that had to be postponed yesterday due to a severe rain storm. Other than the rain, the weather has been very hot, humid and sunny (despite a little haziness in the morning). The boys were very pleased to be allowed to wear house-coloured polo shirts today rather than their shirts and ties as Thursday is “House-shirt Day” here and everyone starts the day with a House meeting.

I hope the snow back home is beginning to clear and has not been too disruptive.

The international exchange programme is now in its sixth year and is designed to improve links between the different schools within The John Lyon’s Foundation family. On the exchanges, boys experience life in the other schools, attend lessons, meet students, experience the culture and visit various tourist sites.