Our Cyber Holiday Card ~ December 2008

Dear Friends & Family --- Greetings from the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai,

We send special holiday wishes your way at this time of year.  We didn't send many cards this year as we seem to be far, far distant from most of our family and friends.  We did send a few holiday cards a few weeks ago while visiting friends in the Thai town of Ban Pong.  We were surprised that a couple arrived at their destination (Norway) quickly while others (California) have yet to arrive, and some may never make the trip.

For now, we send these cyber-greetings and the attached photo collage with hopes that this time of year brings you and your loved ones peace and contentment.  Having left our northern California in early November, we continue to enjoy our travels and adventures in southeast Asia. We will probably spend Christmas and New Years quietly here in our newly rented condo apartment on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. 

While Thais love holidays and never pass up a chance to celebrate them, this is a primarily Buddhist country.  Around tourist areas we can occasionally spot coffee shop waitresses wearing Santa hats.  Peg found a large artificial Xmas tree at the entrance of one local large western shopping mall.  Keith found a tiny lighted tree perched in front of a restaurant's "spirit house" (the bananas are an offering to the spirit, not a present under the tree). The center photo pays tribute to the main religion of our current host country. We here stand with one of our students of 5 years ago who is now a nurse in Bangkok. It was a fun reunion as we visited one of her favorite holy sites.

As you can see by the light clothes and shirtsleeves, we are enjoying the warm climate here. Along with Thailand's many other beautiful flowers, we always enjoy the plentiful orchids. And, lastly, in the bottom right corner of the collage, we pay tribute to our current primary form of transportation.  While we recently have traveled by jet plane, trains, ferries, buses, cars, pedicabs, tuk-tuks, and bicycles, we now are using local "song-tao" (or small covered pickup truck with 2 benches in the rear). They cruise the local streets, efficiently and cheaply moving many people to their destinations.

We join with many folks in many countries with hope that the world in 2009 will go through a positive phase of healing, peace and renewed cooperation.  We certainly hope that the coming new year will be kind to you and your neighborhood.

With most sincere good wishes,

Peg and Keith Wheeler

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