Cyber Letter 19


Retired life is suiting us well, and we did a lot of travelling with the Jaguar Mk2 and BIOD caravan to Portugal, Spanje, with the E-type with the Jaguar Daimler Club Holland to Scotland, and without the Jags to the Costa Brava and the Haute Savoie. We divide our time more or less evenly between Thailand and Europe, following the sun.

Laura now lives in Australia but came to the Netherlands as a surprise for Minke's 60th birthday. Laura has recently swapped her job at Deloitte with an exciting and challenging role with the Cancer Institute in Sydney, where as a public servant she will likely have less stress and deadlines but more holidays and salary. She lives with her boyfriend near the beautiful Manly Beach and takes a ferry to work.

Minke has now also reached the milestone of 60 life years and a surprise party was organised by her mother in Warmenhuizen. The four musketeers were of course present as well as many other friends and family.

Life in Thailand is going it's course. The boom in infrastructure (highways, high speed trains, metro, airports) is continuing at a rapid pace, and as is the construction of gigantic constructions for tourism although a catastrophe with a speedboat with 47 Chinese tourists halved the yearly tourist numbers from China.

The political situation isn't changing much. The Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army who took power when the country appeared ungovernable through democratic means is still prime minister, without much opportunity for opposition and elections have been promised for years. The umpteenth new constitution has been written. The polls suggest however that our general, who's reigning style resembles an enlightened despot generously providing populist presents to the "Red Shirts", may easily win the democratic elections in February 2019. For the life of the everyday Thai there aren't many practical implications as to whether a democratically elected or a military government is in power, although there is now a stable economic environment and here and there the corruption is tackled a bit, which again has advantages and disadvantages. Just as in the Netherlands, old networks of money, big companies and established social positions (during the military coup these were called the the "Yellow Shirts") have strong influence, and the chosen prime minister will likely choose agreeable counterparts, just as is currently the case in the Netherlands.

The civil war in the south, which has been smoldering for many years, seems to be leveling off, and there are fewer deaths this year due to bomb attacks or killings than last year. Which is better than the other way around, and the dreaded spread of the attacks to Bangkok or Pataya has not yet taken place.

It has now now been thirty years since we left the Netherlands, and when we are back we always notice more about how rapidly the demographic situation changes and how dichotomies become visible between social upper and lower layers and between city and province. Sometimes when we board a city bus we are the only whites on the bus, while at the Rock & Roll festival in Akersloot or the fair in Warmenhuizen no people with a migrant background can be seen. And how in the Netherlands, as with the rest of Europe, public life is marked by the ever-present threat of terrorist attacks. In a dull harbour village near our house in Spain, permanent concrete blocks are barricading the rambla, huge heavy steel barricades are being laid out in Edinburgh on the large promenades, and in Alkmaar concrete blocks are being put on the road at small local concert and in order to protect the row of visitors lining up to climb the church.

While when we left most utilities companies were simply in the hands of the people through the health insurance fund, housing corporations, provincial electricity companies, national railways and the PTT, everything has now been sold or privatized, with no clear improvement in efficiency or cost savings. Housing shortages and room shortages have not been solved in those thirty years, old people's homes and social workplaces have been removed, traffic jams have remained a problem, and the population keeps on growing. With age, our nostalgia has clearly increased proportionately.

In between all the traveling, Kees was able to work on his Jaguar Mark IV project for several weeks. Progress has been made, and needles have been found in haystacks such as rear hubs in reasonably good condition and small missing items such as the logo on the rear bumper. Click here for more details about this multi-year project.

We look back on an adventurous year in which we visited special places in Europe, but also family and good friends in the Netherlands. Sometimes it seems as if time has stood still when we are staying for a night and sitting together at breakfast. Again this year we have been able to toast to the new year together with Minke's mother in Thailand. She has visited us exactly 30 times in one of the tropical places we have lived. We are very proud of how Laura made her dreams come true with an apartment in Manly Beach, a great boyfriend and a new challenging job, although we would of course love to have her closer. We look forward to going on a safari in Kenya and Tanzania with Laura and Oliver next month. We wish everyone happy holidays and cheers with our coconut to a healthy 2019. You are always warmly welcome for a swim in our pool in Thailand, a sailing trip with the Red Dragon in Spain, a cup of coffee in the garden in Warmenhuizen or a gin tonic in the Biod somewhere on a campsite in Spain.

Last update 31 december 2018.