Today is listed on my calendar as Thailand Post Co. Ltd. Establishment Day, marking the date in 2003 that Thailand’s postal services were privatized. The stamp at left was released to mark the 10th anniversary two years ago and is Thailand’s biggest stamp released to date, measuring 62 x 62 mm. I’m not really sure what rate the 10-baht face value was intended for (first class domestic letters are 3 baht; international postcards are 15 baht); it was released in a sheet of four.
I’d already planned a trip to the Phuket Philatelic Museum to buy a few new issues released since my last visit on 29 July (the release date of the Thai Alphabet set), this being my last day off until early October. But first I needed to visit Phuket Immigration Office; foreigner residents are required to check-in every 90 days.
While walking back home from the immigration office, I witnessed the totally unexpected local celebration of Thailand Post Day: Led by a highway patrol car with lights and siren to clear the traffic, I first saw perhaps a half-dozen red-and-white Thailand Post and EMS trucks. This was followed with around 50 motorbikes ridden by local mail carriers wearing their red-and-white jackets and helmets. It was quite a site – particularly as they were circling a locally-iconic clock tower at the time. It’s a shame that I didn’t have my camera with me – one of the rare occurrences that I’d left it at home! Next year, I will be waiting…
As for the post office visit, the ladies manning the philatelic museum shop counter were sporting the red 12th anniversary polo shirts which I commented on. To my shock, they offered me one but they didn’t have one in my size (a Thai XXL which, back in America would be a loose-fitting XL). Thai people are nothing but hospitable. They had all the stamps I needed but were sold out of the first day covers for the THAIPEX issues (beautiful purple-based stamps portraying musical instruments played by HRH Princess Chakri Maha Siridhorn who is celebrating her 60th birthday this year) as well as the FDC for National Communications Day (which happens to be on the anniversary of the very first stamps released by Siam in 1883). They did have the covers for the Royal Thai Army stamp and ASEAN Day stamp, both released on 8 August.
The ASEAN Day stamp is quite striking and will make a nice accompaniment to my Muang Phuket Local Post ASEAN flags stamps on outgoing postcards (the 15-baht rate is the international postcard rate). Since it also saw a souvenir sheet release, it took some effort to explain to one counter-lady that I wanted that plus a full sheet of ten. I discovered that they call the souvenir sheet a “sheet” and a full sheet should be ordered by saying, “per sheet”. This was the first time I ever had a real lost-in-translation moment at Phuket Philatelic Museum as they are usually pretty good at interpreting my stamp needs.
While I’m thinking about it, I’ll go online this afternoon and try to find the missing first day covers; the post office also sold out of the princess’s 60th birthday stamp issued in March and I haven’t yet tracked one down.
The next Thai stamps won’t be released until 18 September, a pair commemorating a half-century of diplomatic relations with Singapore and picturing tasty desserts (sticky rice with mango for Thailand, ice cream sandwiches for Singapore), followed on the 22nd with a single stamp marking the 103rd annual World Congress of the World Dental Federation to be held in Bangkok.
Happy Birthday, Thailand Post!