Liam’s Gold Award Essay: My Week On Planet Junior

Back in June, motivated by his desire to see his grandmother, Liam entered his first international essay competition that is Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2023, which offered the grand prize of a trip to London.

The topic he chose under the Junior Category: You have been stranded on a planet where everyone is 18 or under. Journal your experience.

He spent about 2 weeks crafting his essay; writing blocks of text everyday, organising and arranging them in a coherent manner. On the day of submission, he was so excited and hopeful.

Truth be told, I didn’t think he was going to win anything. We’re talking about competing with easily over 20,000 entries from all around the word. He asked me almost every other day if I had heard from the organiser and finally, almost 4 months later, I received a plain email stating that Liam had won the Gold Award.

I honestly thought it’s a fancy name for their certificate of participation, but a little more digging later revealed that it wasn’t a mere certificate that everybody got. It’s well and truly a Gold Award to recognise his excellence in writing. Sure, he didn’t win the trip to London but we are still super proud of him!

I printed out his certificate and laminated it and it’s now proudly displayed in our home.

Here’s his winning essay:

My Week On Planet Junior


My name is Liam and I am a billionaire scientist. Getting ready to blast off into space onto a planet that is exactly like Earth. Its name is Planet Junior. According to research, everybody on this planet is 18 or under so, I got to go to the planet because I want to do some research on the planet.

Day 2

So, I am on Planet Junior and my rocket…. well, it crash-landed and has unfixable damage so I cannot fly back to Earth, but I found a city! Everybody was very, very young?! And also, the air smelt mucky and dirty when I first landed on the planet but as I got closer to the city the air got fresher and fresher. When I got to the city, the air was as fresh as the Earth’s air now. I have got to get some rest see you tomorrow.


Now about the food. So, I was so hungry that I went straight into the first restaurant I saw and there was the fresh smell of meat and vegetables. I took a seat and a waiter (who looks 12 years old) came to my table and passed me a tablet. It was the menu and I ordered the cheesy pizza and a meaty burger (with extra meat) and did I order a burger or a piece of rotten meat slapped between some maggoty bread???!!! Did I order a pizza or a piece of bread with some stilton cheese on it???!!! So, I gave the restaurant a one-star rating and left. I was having a stroll when someone said, “You look very old!”. And then I continued walking when I saw somebody that looks 16 years old pushing a baby stroller down the pavement. I asked, “Where is the baby’s mom?” and the girl replied, “I am the mom you idiot!!!!”.


Welcome to day 4 on Planet Junior. I have seen about 18 car crashes since day 1 because here, if you asked for a driver’s licence you will probably get one but you DON’T NEED TO GO THROUGH THE TEST! There is one catch, it costs a lot, like a lot, like £900 pounds a lot yeah. It costs £900 pounds!! But a car is very cheap. Let’s say a Lamborghini costs £100 pounds, a Mercedes costs £97 pounds, but a car like a Honda costs £20 pounds and a Proton (a Malaysian car) costs £10 pounds. I am feeling sleepy now, I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.


Now I am going to tell you the backstory of this planet. Apparently about a 100 years ago an asteroid hit this planet and everyone over the age of 18 died instantly due to some weird chemical reactions. Unfortunately, the weird chemicals still get passed down into their new bloodlines, so everybody dies when they reach the age of 18. Hence, everyone from this planet is now 18 years old or younger (except me, of course). 

Why do they use English pound for money? They use it because some random astronaut dude showed up and was all like ta-da-da, the English pound! And then he idiotically dumped like £12309909098909 pounds onto the planet.

And why is the food horrid? Because the chefs are young of course.


I have been trying to build spaceship parts and putting them together. I might get a spaceship or some stupid junk, who knows? I shall name my ship the Astro18 and then hopefully, I could fly back to Earth and live happily ever after. Or, I would die in the impact of landing or my spaceship could burn up in the atmosphere. I don’t know what else could happen but I’m probably going to die but only probably, it’s not like I’m definitely going to die… like on a scale of 1 to 100, I would say 50?

I’m hungry so I went to a restaurant named ‘Big Yums and No Yucks’. This restaurant has more experienced chefs. I ordered the ‘Super Monsterzilla Burger’, ‘Cheezy Pizza’ and ‘Motherclucker Nuggets’ that are filled with cheese. They were delish!!


At long last, I have finished the Astro18 and I am ready to fly back to Earth. So, farewell Planet Junior and farewell space, and hello Earth. Home sweet home. I am on my spaceship and earth is in sight. Goodbye.

I think of nothing.

Talked to the kids about the century plus old Israeli Palestinian conflict. They listened to me as if I were just retelling a fairy tale really.

How the oppressed had became the oppressor, eventually becoming the catalyst of terrorism. We also covered how western superpowers are partial to one side and how the whole unfairness of it builds pressure over time. How indoctrination on both sides have led to nothing but bloodshed of the innocent, on both sides.

At the end, I asked the kids if they had thought of anything while listening to me.

Liam said, “I think this is going to cause a chain reaction that leads to World War 3!”.

Lily said, “I think of nothing”.

My little girl might be on to something. If everyone had not given much thought to some abstract concepts, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much misunderstanding and hatred over the differences of opinions. It is what it is and there’s nothing you and I can do about it.

Seeking my tribe

It’s been more than a year and we are still stuck in the thick of Covid-19 pandemic. Third full-blown lockdown in, and the situation in Malaysia has yet to improve while many other countries are slowly easing back into normalcy. There’s only one to be blamed for this catastrophe and that is a power-grabbing, unsanctioned government with no intellect, planning, rigour, and vision.

I digress. I’m not here to bitch about politics. I’m really here to unload and verbalise my innermost thoughts.

Despite the obvious disadvantages of a global pandemic, it’s been a surprisingly illuminating period for myself. Likely due to the lack of external distractions (not being able to leave the house does that), I’ve found myself far more introspective than before – questioning my relationships, habits, consumptions and more. Mostly my relationships.

So here’s the tea…

My small circle of friends has recently been rendered even smaller. While trimming the fat isn’t unfamiliar to me, this recent pruning still came as a shock to my system namely because of how much I did not expect it. My year started out pretty great, found a group of people whom I thought would become tight friends but as it turned out, it wasn’t meant to be. I would single it down to one person calling the shots and transforming the dynamics but that would be petty, even for petty ol’ me. Long story short, parted ways but that’s okay because I believe I wasn’t fitting in well anyway.

What I did not expect was this minor, even silly misdemeanour to spill over onto another relationship, supposedly a solid friendship (from my perspective anyway). Immediately after being made clear that my side of the story did not matter, I drove home in tears with a sense of deja vu washing over me. I realised that this had happened before and I….I let it happen again. Allowing the same person to mess with me, convinced me how important and loved I am, and then dropped me like a sack of rotting spuds based on fucking hearsay.

Anyway, it is what it is. While I’m now back to square one, I’m frankly quite relieved that I no longer have to be pressured into partaking in pedestrian activities that I did not enjoy. Will I miss pretending to appreciate girly advice seemingly ripped right out of a Seventeen magazine? Nope. Will I miss counting the minutes to go home because everybody is pissed drunk except me? Nope. Will I miss being mistaken for a religious person even after 30 years of “knowing” me? Nope. Will I miss feigning interest in low quality television? Hell nope.

As my blog title suggests, I’m seeking my tribe. Whether I’ll find it or not I don’t know, but I’d sooner be friend-less than to be misunderstood. I’m too old for that shit.