This is the fifth of a series of photographic blogs highlighting my last days in the U.S.A. and my first full year as an expat in southern Thailand.
Ten years ago – on 5th April 2006 – I left U.S. soil for the last time to date. However, I have very little recollection of the journey. Seeing how I had been in Kansas City for a week prior to leaving, I assume I began my flights that day from there. I really don’t remember, to tell the truth! I have vague memories of having overweight charges levied against me at Los Angeles International Airport – I was carrying my computer backpack as well as a very large (person-sized) red duffle bag with roller wheels that broke before I’d left the States. The first set of airport photos seem to be in the terminal and from my plane (China Airlines) in Taipei, Taiwan (the only clue to that location being the “R.O.C.” mentioned on the drug warning signage).
The time-stamp on the photos was read from the metadata, and is some 18 hours behind. Thus, the first photo in Taiwan (stamped 16:32 5 April, was actually 07:32 6 April local time).
The leg from Taiwan to Thailand went via Hong Kong. I do remember that we had to deplane on one level, make our way down a series of long hallways, go up a level and we eventually arrived at the gate to board the SAME airplane we’d arrived from Taipei on! The weather in Hong Kong was much better than my previous 18-hour layover during which the city was being battled by a monster typhoon. I arrived at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok mid-afternoon on 6 April 2006, landing alongside a golf course between the runways. That airport was downgraded to a domestic airport a few years later when Suvanabhumi International opened on the eastern fringes of Bangkok but I believe it is once again handling a few international flights.
I probably flew on to Phuket later that same day and by the evening of the 7th, I was enjoying my first sunset on Patong Beach as an expat rather than as merely a tourist…
Today is the fourth Thursday in November, annually celebrated in the United States as Thanksgiving Day since 1941. It was on this date – 26 November – in 1789 that President George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving and in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln set Thanksgiving Day as the final Thursday of November. It is definitely my favorite of all American holidays and the period of time each year that I miss my family the most. I could almost kill for a taste of a genuine roast turkey breast with my mom’s gravy as well as her homemade pumpkin pie.
January was yet another philatelic-filled month and I added quite a few stamps to my various collections. Most were obtained online and I made two trips to the Phuket Philatelic Museum to buy new Thai stamps. I received a flurry of postcards at the start of the month but, alas, no further Christmas cards. I only received one this past holiday despite mailing almost forty which is more than a little discouraging! Perhaps the biggest event of the entire month was (finally) finding a stamp inventory program that I like and it’s caused me to make some real changes.
Another year older, another year wiser? I have to admit that I’m a bit confused – is this the Year of the Sheep or the Year of the Goat. Some breeds of goats and sheep do look similar (the tails being the usual giveaway) but they aren’t exactly the same animal. Most websites detailing the Chinese zodiac (including Wikipedia) seem to be going the goat route, a few like the much cuter sheep, and others are saying they are the same. With the stamps marking the Lunar New Year that I’ve seen so far, most are calling it the Year of the Sheep but the United States Postal Service and Hong Kong Post are both declaring it the Year of the Ram!
The history of Christmas stamps is an interesting one as there is quite a bit of disagreement of what was the actual first stamp to commemorate the holiday. It really depends on what your definition of a Christmas stamp is. Does the mere words “Christmas” (or similar term) make it a true Yuletide emission? Or is it the pictorial theme of something representing our concept of this festive time of year? Perhaps a true Christmas stamp is the one designed specifically for carrying greetings cards or holiday packages. As we will see, there are several contenders in each of these categories.