With just five days remaining until the start of the Twenties, I find myself inundated with non-philatelic pursuits. I live in a country that is over 90 percent Buddhist with most of the remaining population being Muslim or Hindu. Christians make up an extremely small portion of the residents. And yet, Christmas is extremely popular. While the majority of schools throughout the Kingdom remain open on Christmas Day, most of these host parties where all students and teachers are decked-out in red felt shirts, skirts and/or hats and sing very bad renditions of “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. Of course, Santa Claus (and his sexy sidekick, Santy) must make an appearance to lead the throngs of children in games until the unrelenting tropical sun.
Around the time I began collecting stamps again in earnest, I stumbled across several local post stamps. Somewhat inspired by these, I set off on a tangent to my main philatelic pursuits and launched my own local post. I had two purposes in mind when I created Muang Phuket Local Post: 1) to learn how to use photo-editing software to design stamp-like labels and postcards and 2) to commemorate subjects that I felt were interesting but weren’t being honored by official postal administrations. Mostly, it was just for fun.
Muang refers to an administrative district for a community in Thailand, applied to the capital district (amphoe muang) of a province but is also generally the municipal equivalent of a town. Originally, the term was used for a town having a defensive wall and a ruler with at least the noble rank of khun. Other district subdivisions include tambon (township or subdistrict) and muban (village or hamlet). I happen to live in Tambon Talat Yai (“big market subdistrict”) in Amphoe Muang Phuket which most local people just call Muang Phuket or “Phuket Town”. Thus, the name for the local post.
The first issues in late 2013 were designed using a couple of different Android apps while the postmarks were done in Adobe Photoshop (a program in which I’m still struggling with the basics). Various other markings were pieced together using Microsoft Paint and sheet layouts were often done using MS Office Word. The 2014 releases were created using a Windows 8 app called Fotr while the January 2015 Penny Black issue and the yet-to-be-released ASEAN flag stamps were made using Paint. An issue I’m planning to mark my 50th birthday in December may be the most complex yet as with portions made using Paint, Photoscape, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I hope it comes together as I intend…
I “released” the first two Muang Phuket Local Post stamps in October 2013 – a definitive featuring an iconic building that serves as one of the symbols for Phuket Town plus a commemorative for World Post Day. Four additional issues appeared before the end of the year marking the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 180 years of Thai-American friendship, and a 6-stamp Christmas in Thailand set. MPLP has participated in the last two World Local Post Days (the last Monday in January) with a single commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I in 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black this year. A pair of stamps at the end of 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day Tsunami.
Future releases include an eleven-stamp set portraying flags of the ASEAN member nations (plus the ASEAN flag itself) to be issued in early August, at least five marking my 50th birthday in December (which happens to fall on the same day as His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej), and a single designed for use at the English camps held by my teaching agency at various village schools on Phuket and neighboring islands.
To date, all MPLP issues have been imperforate, the 2013 issues printed on plain paper and affixed to covers using a glue stick. The 2014 and 2015 stamps have been printed on self-adhesive paper. All have been extremely limited releases, usually numbering less than fifty of each design printed with less than ten first day covers prepared for each issue. These are dual-canceled by the Phuket Town post office and sent through the mail.
Denominations are in either 25 or 50 satang, a very small unit of the Thai baht (100 satang = 1 baht = US $0.029). The tiny brass coins are occasionally given as change (rounded down) but never accepted for payment, at least here in Phuket Town.
First day of issue postmarks have also been made for each issue, the majority printed directly on the envelopes after stamps had been affixed. For the 2014 tsunami anniversary issue, I had a generic undated rubber handstamp made with a stylized wave which I’ve been using on all Muang Phuket Local Post correspondence (primarily Postcrossing postcards). I’ve also designed a few transport markings including “Carried by Elephant” and “Tuk Tuk Express” but thus far these have been printed by computer rather than actual handstamps.
The sole manner of conveyance is by my own footpower, transporting covers and postcards from my home to the closest mailbox or post office (usually the main one in Phuket Town, adjacent to the Phuket Philatelic Museum). Rather than doing hand-back service at the counter, I prefer to have these go through the Thai mailstream (i.e., FDC’s are always mailed to myself or another collector). I have sent envelopes bearing MPLP stamps (affixed to the lower left) internationally and all have arrived…so far. The local postings do illustrate the inefficiency of Thailand Post as they take at least a week and usually closer to two weeks to travel the two kilometers between the main post office and my home.
I’m currently at work creating a catalogue listing the stamps, covers, and postmarks of Muang Phuket Local Post. And I just realized that I should make stamp album pages as well…
Once again, I find it interesting the tangents that this hobby can lead you to pursue.