The milestone of 65 years has been reached, and this was celebrated on what they call the ‘Red Lotus Lake’, though they really are water lilies. Regardless, it was incredibly beautiful at dawn with the flowers open. This lake is in the north of Thailand, the ‘Isan’, where our housekeeper is also from and who we sent on a few months of pre-retirement. We had brought her, and her dogs, to her house which she has been building for many years for when she retires.

Life in Thailand is running its course, we are enjoying our swimming pool, our carefree existence as foreigners, and the good care of our housekeeper. The political situation, with the military in charge is stable and new elections have been announced. The new king has taken the reigns and has a big task ahead of him to fill his father’s shoes. The Thai economy goes well, and sadly for us that is also true for the tourism industry. Increasing numbers or Russians and even more Chinese, now the biggest source of tourism, have discovered Thailand. Vast amounts of construction and corresponding infrastructure development is taking place, including in our neighbourhood: instant tourist traps like floating markets or Thai villages appear out of nowhere, and new multi-story hotels are popping up while freeways are built right through villages in our surroundings.

The Islamic attacks in the south are still continuing, and the deaths have now reached 7,000. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that ‘only’ 235 deaths were recorded in 2017, a slight drop from previous years. Peace is not in sight, the majority of the mainly Muslim population want to stay part of Thailand and the violent minority, who claim to want an independent Islamic state, refuse to negotiate. Now that they have reached their aim of making the south of Thailand ungovernable, it is unclear how the situation will develop. While a military regime is in control, there does not appear to be an appetite to follow the merciless path of the Philippines or the radical solution of neighbouring Myanmar. Innocent people, mostly Buddhists, but also Muslims, will continue to die.

Minke’s mother has turned ninety. As a surprise her sister, who is of a comparable age, came to visit from California to celebrate her birthday. We held two colourful parties at her house with family and friends, with the themes ‘Turning 90 like Paula’ and ‘Garden Tea Party’.

This year we started trekking through Europe with our aerodynamic duo, the Mk2 and BIOD. First the Iberian Peninsula will be conquered. Once we crossed France, we left the BIOD behind on the western side of France and stopped by at our place at the Costa Brava. Then, after summer, we returned to pick up the caravan and crossed the Pyrenees for a third time. On this picture, we are at the Erroymendi Pass at 1349 metres altitude. So far the Jag has functioned well, save a few minor issues. In Bilbao we of course visited the Guggenheim. The building was impressive, if not very space-efficient. Most of the art however, reminded me of the emperor’s new clothes. We also saw the Picos de Europa, which was very beautiful. After this we continued through north Spain to Portugal. For those who want more about an old Jaguar on the road, click here

The old bridge over the Minho, the river dividing Spain and Portugal, ends at the entrance gate to Portugal. The north of Portugal is surprisingly densely populated and outside the tourist season the campsites are empty but hard to find. We left the car and caravan in a gigantic garage of the chair of the Classic Car Club of Porto, and will pick it up and continue our trip next year.


We celebrated Christmas and New Year as a family in Australia, with a busy schedule: the Great Barrier Reef, rainforest near Cairns, snorkeling with seals, Laura’s home in Canberra, the Blue Mountains, and Sydney. Kees had a very relaxing holiday with Laura driving and Minke taking the photos on her iPad. Laura is continuing her career at Deloitte. as a senior analyst in Health Economics and Social Policy, and lives with her boyfriend Oliver in Canberra in an apartment with an incredible view, and has bought her first car. She works hard (telling the Australian government what they should do) but the atmosphere in her team is great and her work is appreciated. We will be spending 2018 in Thailand, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland and Spain, and hope to see our friends.

We wish you too an adventurous 2018.