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Castlemaine Friday 6th March 2015

Our last chain letter was written on 4th March 2014, exactly one year ago. It has unfortunately been sitting here in Castlemaine for 6 weeks. We had asked our tenant to forward it to Thailand, but she must have misunderstood, as it was here when we arrived back with son Peter, a short while ago. So I want to apologize but then I really thought it had gone to Thailand and was ‘lost’. Thankfully and with much relief that is not the case. It is with great delight that I can close the loop once again. Terrific to hear all your news and to know that those who have had illnesses are recovering well. Glad to know Helen that James Jnr. is considering adding another pair of hands to the huge workload on the farm. Make sure you aren’t pushed out Helen before your time!! Welcome Sharon from green Tasmania. Where exactly are you? Somewhere near Penguin? Sounds glorious.

We had a wonderful 5 months in Thailand, land of smiles. Have made many friends there now and the owners of the places we have stayed for 3 or 4 weeks have been so generous and kind. The two in Chiang Khong on the Mekong were so caring when I returned there from a 5 day hospital stay in Chiang Mai (CM) where the gall bladder was removed in the most amazingly efficient hospital I have ever heard of. Within an hour of getting there after our flight from Laos, I’d had an X ray, ultrasound and scan and told the gall bladder had to be removed as it was becoming gangrenous. So by 8 pm I was in surgery. This resulted from getting food poisoning in Laos-Laung Prabang where I spent one night in a third world hospital. Jill and I both slept on used sheets, there was no soap, hot water, towels, toilet paper, food, but the IV equipment looked fairly new and clean and they seemed to know what to do— saline drip and antibiotic IV. Jill had to go out to a road stall for something to eat. The hotel owner drove us to the hospital after I started vomiting bile and even came next morning with food. He later drove us to the airport where we had already booked our flight to CM.

What a relief to get into a sparkingly clean atmosphere in CM RAM hospital. We were in a 2 bed suite just like a unit with wardrobe, microwave, coffee maker, fridge and supplies and staff coming every half hour ro check me out. The food was delicious and suited to my condition. We had all our baggage with us! The hospital car took us to our hotel when I was discharged. Was able to have my hair cut and walk to restaurants, while Jill had a foot and body massage. So all well for our bus trip back to Chiang Khong on Xmas Eve. Quiet Xmas day but celebrated and danced on New Years Eve!

Peter and his mate Ton have almost completed their house in Baan Phu Kha, 4 km from Tha Wang Pha (TWP) where we stayed for 3 weeks before our 5 days at Kata Beach with Jill’s brother and sister in law. Spent one night in Peter’s house which is Lanna style and lovely. Ton’s family are really great people, mainly farmers of tobacco, rice and corn and dry the tobacco and prepare it in large bags for the factory. Older members make brooms for sale to various big businesses. Vacuums are almost unknown, so brooms are very common in hotels, shops, homes etc. The hotel owners were terrific, driving us to various places around the town and outside it. And even to the Nan airport to catch our flight to Bangkok and earlier to the Nan Arts Festival, opened by the Princess.

My family are all well and successful in their endeavours.

Until next time.

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