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PS: Here is a little newsletter about our past year that we are sending to our friends:
CHRISTMAS 2009
Well, it's now the time when we look back over the past year, relive our experiences, review the good times and bad for lessons learned, and look forward to a wonderful New Year.

Don and I had an interesting year of intense travel, mixed with long periods of indolence and slow paced enjoyment of our very good lives. You didn't hear from us last year because we were in Laos - Luang Prabang, to be exact -for Christmas and New Year's Eve. Laos was part of our 77 day tour of SE Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar) and Australia. We loved every minute of our trip. In the first days we caught up with friends in Singapore and Malaysia, then three weeks in Australia visiting the outback (Grampian Mountains) and the uptown (Melbourne and Sydney) with our Australian friends.

We have visited Cambodia and Vietnam before but this time we went to Phnom Penh in Cambodia and connected with our Angkor Wat guide, Poan. The tour he gave us of his native city was informative and poignant. Poan was 17 years old when the Khmer Rouge took over his country and his experience was riveting and distressing. We stay in touch with him and his family - the world for his two children will, we can only hope, be much different than his youth was. If you ever go to Cambodia, we can put you in touch with him. We recommend him highly.

In Laos we covered almost the whole length of the Mekong River, travelling in both the south and the north. A beautiful but desperately poor country, we met nothing but kindness and happy smiles. We visited most of the tourist highlights of Myanmar - Yangon, Bagan, Mandeley, Inle Lake and Ngapali - and loved this sad country. There is so much potential here - in human and material resources - which is being wasted or repressed by the military government.

We arrived home in mid-January to cold weather but found we had missed one of the worst winters on record with snow that stayed for days. Very un-Victoria!  The continuing cold and damp weather sent us south to San Diego  in May where we found the weather there colder than Victoria which was by then experiencing a heat wave - go figure!  We went south via the magnificent coastal roads in Oregon and California and returned via Yosemite Park, Reno and central Oregon. Magnificent vistas all the way.

Summer here was unbelievable - day after day of hot sunny days. Hence the indolence mentioned above which lasted pretty much until late October. And then the rain....

We keep busy at a number of projects:  I am still trying to learn Chinese (I go to a tutor once a week and can now make simple sentences like:  I like this book.  I have a sore knee.  I am hoping this will be useful one day). Don meanwhile is using his fabulous shop to turn out very nifty birdhouses....orders are being taken now.  Don had a recent health scare - he has prostate cancer but it is early days and the prognosis is good. His chest x-rays and bone scans say all is normal so we are just waiting to start treatment.

Meanwhile we make travel plans for 2010. We hope to drive to Washington, DC (via Ottawa and Toronto) some time this spring and we REALLY hope to spend my 65th birthday in London in September. And we hope to see you this year - either in Victoria or chez vous. All the very best.