Many will say that it is impossible to have a quiet New Year in Isan, but my wife and I somehow managed it, a reflection of getting wrinkly one fears. But to look on the positive side, I am now the proud possessor of a yellow Winnie-the-Pooh mug, courtesy of a couple of farmers' kids who live next door to us in deepest Chaiyaphum.
Shortly after I arrived from Bangkok for the festivities, the two young sisters approached, clutching a package. After overcoming the giggles, they presented the mug, blurting out in their best English "Happy New Year", which they had apparently been rehearsing for several days.
The mug featured a grinning bear sniffing a giant sunflower growing out of a large pot labelled "Hunny" _ spelling wasn't one of Pooh's strong points. The mug was a delightful gift that I will treasure and I christened it with a very British brew of tea.
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