Cyberbrief 23
Fotoboek English Cyberletter 4


Sawadikaa and a Happy New Year!!


We have, as in previous years, divided the past year over a short time in Australia, Thailand, and Europe, where we alternate traveling with the Mk2 or E-type and staying in our apartment on the Costa Brava with staying with my mother in Warmenhuizen. The slowing down of Covid even made Thailand more relaxed, and we were allowed to quarantine for a week in Phuket upon our return from Australia, which turned out to be much nicer than we thought and certanily not a punishment to have to quarantine on the beach for a week. At your own expense of course. Life in Thailand idles on and we are busy with the garden (including harvesting papayas (see clip on the left), bananas and pineapples), swimming pool, and house. The energy crisis is not greatly affecting the citizens of Thailand: petrol is a euro, for years a kWh has been around four baht (12 euro cents) for basic use (which we fall under even including our swimming pool pump, but hardly any air conditioning). The more you use, the more expensive it is per kilowatt - excellent arrangement. A gas tank with 15 kilos of LPG for cooking has risen somewhat to 11 euros. Our "European" kitchen is all electric, and since our housekeeper retired her Thai kitchen, which ran on gas, is no longer used. A cubic meter of water fluctuates between 50 and 75 euro cents, we have not yet discovered when and how such price differences are determined. We spend an average of 50 euros per month on electricity, and half on water. Municipal Property tax is 40 euros per year. Road tax for the Toyota is around 50 euros per year, including mandatory limited liability insurance. For the Jaguar XJ6 it is 175 euros because of the large engine, and rightly so! And the sun shines for free all year round, including on our solar water heater. This is how Minke and Kees get through the winter!

In May we arrived in the Netherlands in time to celebrate Minke's mother's 95th birthday with a creative party in her garden. The result of the creative projects was fantastic. Our friend Jan supervised the mosaic making, Tijmen did decorations on the aprons, Ineke (Kees's sister) made sure that a colorful elephant was painted together, friend Stans helped with the song, and snacks and drinks were once again fantastically organised by Joris with the support of Dorine and Peter. Onwards to the 100 years!

Op Sardinie, net voor we de pont naar Barcelona gaan nemen.

With the cylinder head of the Mk2 now fully fixed, our trek through Europe has continued. Starting in the Netherlands we drove to the Alps via the Romantische Strasse in Germany. We decided the Brenner pass was not high enough, so we went over the Jaufen- and Sint Leonard passes. Very beautiful and with the new aluminum radiator we did not have a boiling engine at any point. Then through all kinds of Italian lakes to the Mille Miglia, saw Laura for a few days in Milan and Florence, and on to Siena and the rest of Tuscany. We took the ferry to Barcelona (caravan left behind), saw Laura and partner William in our house on the Costa Brava, back on the ferry with stop-over in Sardinia to Italy, picked up the caravan and dragged it back to the Netherlands. Flawless logistics! For more pictures of an old Jaguar on the road, click here.

In Thailand we enjoy the peace and quiet, the beautiful weather, our green garden with flowers and birds, and the many restaurants. We often walk to the beach at sunset for a mukata (soup barbecue), but unfortunately our "Ploy" beach restaurant is no longer due to financially stronger forces. Australia is also a very beautiful country and we do not yet know where our focus will be in the coming years. In Thailand, Minke is still involved in the management of the small compound where we live, in particular with checking the finances and administration. The constant mistakes made by the management company are very frustrating, but also a challenge to find and fix. Kees often works on his Jag XJ6 (contrary to advice the brakes of the XJ6 rear axle can indeed be replaced without removing the entire subframe or exhausts - now you now!), repairs or improves things around the house, and a whole room is sacrificed to his new hobby (trains!) in which he fiddles with LED lights, resistors, and electrical diagrams. It's a challenge to get everything working, and a lot better for mental health than being irritated by the issues of the day in the news.

In quarantaine op Phuket!

Tourism is picking up again. Especially Russians, who are no longer welcome elsewhere in the world, are coming to Thailand in increasing numbers. Many of the expat migratory birds have since Covid also now returned to spend the winter in our tropics. A slight recovery has started amongst restaurants, coffee shops and fruit stalls, even the "Floating Market" in our neighborhood is seeing the first of colossal buses delivering visitors again. It is interesting that the vacuum left by the absent tourists seems to be filled, and to a significant extent this is increasingly by the Thai middle class. Giant beach restaurants, many catering specifically to Thai clientele, are packed every weekend. Funnily "our" beach now counts two caravan parks as an adventurous hotel option for the Thai (with trailer caravans as the attraction, but with air conditioning of course). There are hardly any real campsites in Thailand, and Thai people we meet at classic events who sometimes have beautiful VW vans as collectors' items, lament that you can't park anywhere with your van.

The civil war in the south, with an estimated total of 7,400 deaths since the beginning, seems to be finally cooling down. Although two deadly Islamist bombings have recently occurred on a southern railway line, tentative peace negotiations have begun. The political situation here is not very stable, with a general who came to power in a coup and who was then democratically elected prime minister, and a new constitution which favors the military. With new elections in 2023, the question is whether he, and his military circles, will remain in power. Troubled times may lie ahead. However, compared to the current Netherlands, democracy in Thailand is certainly no worse off. Here the military provide an enlightened despotism, which seems no worse for the people in the provinces than the polarising Yellow Shirts-Red Shirts democracy of the past, while in the Netherlands the political elite does not represent the interests of the Dutch people. No long-term vision, standing by doing noting and when matters get out of hand throwing a bag of money at it, which often makes things worse. It is often difficult to tell whether news articles are a serious editorial or satire. There, that has been said, now back to Thailand.

After a travel interruption due to Covid, Paula has picked up the travel thread again and came to Thailand in December. Together with Laura, visiting from Australia for two weeks, we celebrated New Year's Eve at the Sailing Club and we then enjoyed Koh Chang for a few days. Laura feels completely at home in Australia and is now Principal Policy Officer, Strategic Projects, in the Center for Epidemiology & Evidence at the New South Wales Department of Health. She has a busy job and a busy social life with her boyfriend Will. She has spent a lot of time in the past year making the apartment she owns a beautiful space.

We wish from sunny Koh Chang a happy and healthy 2023.