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A Happy 2020 to you from Kees en Minke!


These days our retired life takes place on four of the seven continents: Europe, Afrika, Asia and Australia. In the summer in the Netherlands and Spain, and in the winter in Thailand and then a couple of weeks with Laura in Sydney and surroundings.

The political situation in Thailand seems to have stabilised. The general who took charge during the coup a few years ago has won democratic elections and is now Prime Minister. Not that everything is perfectly fine with human rights, but this is no problem for the ordinary Thai, as long as the economy is booming. And it is - a bit too much so for us, because the Thai Baht has risen almost 50% in relation to the Euro compared to when we bought our house here. Fortunately my pension (which is in dollars) has been buffered against these exchange rate changes. The Islamic struggle in southern Thailand is still ongoing. The total counter is now at 7000 deaths since the beginning some 15 years ago, making it one of the bloodiest, but also most forgotten, current conflicts in Southeast Asia. Although the merciless murder of Buddhists, but also of Muslims, by Islamic terrorists seems to have passed its peak of a few years ago, there are still regular attacks, sometimes with dozens of deaths as a result.

At the start of 2019 we went on a safari in Kenya and Tanzania with Laura, and also visited our old friends Henk and Gisela. It had been a long time since we had last been, and we really enjoyed being in Africa again. We took this photo on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater, at the memorial of then (in 1984) only the young Grzimek and now (2019) also his father. We saw many wild animals, and spent the nights in in luxury safari tents with stunning surroundings. Afterward the safaris we had a great time with Gisela and family on the beach of Watamu and with Henk in his house in Kilifili. Africa has not yet gone through the same development as Southeast Asian countries: a lot of poverty, chaotic public transport, many women still carry jerrycans of water on their heads for long distances, primitive markets, much is the same as 40 years ago, except with many more people (Tanzania's population in 1980 was 18 million, now 50 million). The animals had not changed much either, and there are still a lot of them. And many more tourists now than 40 years ago: China is now in charge in many African countries, and nostalgic sounds from Africans about those good old colonial times can be heard.

Not long after the Africa trip, Laura and Oliver broke up after a relationship of 7 years. Laura now lives with a group of friends in a beautiful apartment overlooking Manly beach and the ferry which she takes to work every day. We admire her perseverance in building her new life and coping with visa issues.

This summer we flew to Torremolinos to continue our journey with the Jaguar and BIOD. Unfortunately we didn't get far, due to a leaking cylinder head. After a few days of hard work, the new head that we had purchased online turned out not to fit after all. This was a disappointment, and the car and caravan were returned to the Netherlands on a truck by our insurance company. We then completed the trip by high-speed train, via Madrid and Barcelona to our house in Salions.

In the Netherlands in the summer Kees had, in addition to the car he is restoring, also the broken car and caravan from Spain that had to be repaired, and because accidents never happen alone also an E-type with a broken water pump.

In September Minke went on a group bus tour for a week with her 92-year-old mother, in Andalusia. Paula had always wanted to go there once and they enjoyed seeing the highlights of southern Spain in this way.

Arriving back in Thailand just after the wet season, the garden was looking fantastic and green, but it took some time to get the pool water back to clear, and the broken fridge, computer and water pumps all needed to be replaced or repaired. And then also the air conditioning of the Toyota, and several flat tires.

With this all sorted we can once again enjoy swimming laps, and the view of our tropical garden. There seems to be a trend among our fellow expat friends to begin to retire back to Europe. Medical issues are also having a significant impact within our friend circles. Kees has replaced the Citroen DS with another Jaguar and although it runs perfectly, there are always improvements which can be made. Minke tries to maintain her routine of going to the gym three times a week.

We celebrated Christmas and New Year with Laura in Sydney. We went to Townsville and Magnetic Island for a few days first (not magnetic but very beautiful and unspoiled). Our boat trip there the Great Barrier Reef was again very beautiful. We also saw koalas, kookaburras and black cockatoos up close, and back in Sydney attended performances at the Opera House. Unfortunately we also saw the big fires in the Sydney area from the airplane and could smell and see the smoke in Manly. We celebrated New Year with a view of the fireworks and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We wish you a splashing New Year and good health!

Last update : 1 januari 2020