We have arrived in the Twenties and I am ready to see a lot of new stamps.  Promo artwork is fine but it is so much nicer to have an actual stamp to hold in your tongs as you place it into an album or stockbook for the first time. I will have my first chance in 2020 when Thailand’s Year of the Mouse Zodiac stamp is issued tomorrow.

My New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair spent at home although I did go out to the balcony at midnight to watch the fireworks over Phuket Town. They may not have been as impressive as those in Singapore or North Korea (both of which were broadcast live on television here), but there was a nice breeze making it much cooler to be outside than in my non-air conditioned apartment.

I did take the time to create a new handstamp inspired by one I saw on Timbre Phil-Ouest’s Facebook page:

Continue reading “And So It Begins…. Welcome to 2020!”

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.

Continue reading “Exhausting Holidays”

Phuketia - MPLP #Ph49a (2018)
Phuketia – MPLP #Ph47-49 (2018)

Before I give details about the latest Phuketia local post stamp release, I am pleased to announce that the Republica Phuketia government is no longer “in-exile”. After nearly a month in the wilds of Phang Nga Province, I was allowed to return to the much more civilized (we have a mall!) and familiar surroundings of Phuket. As a result, there are no provisional postal markings noting the temporary location — meaning that I never had a chance to get to the post office while in Phang Nga. Thus, the Phuketian definitive set was not released until November 30 when the first day covers were delivered to the post office in Phuket (and have yet to complete the vast 2-kilometer distance back to Posta Phuketia headquarters).

With the definitive first day covers still in transit, another set is prepared and ready for the December 12, 2018, release of three commemorates marking the 200th anniversary of Thai-U.S. Friendship. Observant readers will notice that this is a change from the previously-announced date of December 10. This is due to the fact that the Thailand Post facilities will remain closed on that date (tomorrow) for the Constitution Day holiday. Yes, the kingdom still observes this as a government and banking holiday although they still haven’t adopted a new Constitution since the latest military coup back in May 2014. However, they did announce this week (as they do every year) that elections to vote on a new Constitution will be held in the near future (February 2019, according to the latest announcement). I suspect that, as they do every year, they will find some excuse to again delay these elections.

Continue reading “Phuketia New Release – Bicentennial of Thai-U.S. Friendship”

Muang Phuket Local Post – MPLP #21-26 (2015) on first day cover
Muang Phuket Local Post – MPLP #21-26 (2015) on first day cover; 6 of 11 stamps in a set marking ASEAN Day, August 8, 2015. Conveyed my MPLP to Phuket Philatelic Museum, postmarked Phuket on August 8, 2015, where it entered the mail stream.

Long-time readers of this blog and Asian Meanderings may recall that, from time to time, I have dabbled with creating “fantasy stamps” for my own local post. The Muang Phuket Local Post had its first releases in October 2013 and had a total of 26 designs through early August 2015. The stamps were printed on sticker paper (imperforate!) and affixed to the lower left of any correspondence I sent. I mailed first day covers to myself from a postbox near my work and these usually took between ten and 14 days to travel the two miles or so to my home (I think most of them went via Bangkok, 525 miles away!).

Continue reading “Announcing the Successor to Muang Phuket Local Post: First Release by Phuketia Due on Halloween”

Postmark2014iAround 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. 

phuket_mapMuang 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.

MPLP2013-001

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…

20131211-MPLP005

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.

MPLP2013-Christmas sheet

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.

MPLP2014

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. 

20150126-MPLP016

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. 

MPLP-handstamps

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.

Happy Collecting.

SAM_4910I consider myself rather fortunate to live a pleasant ten-minute walk from one of Thailand’s eight philatelic museums in the provincial capital of Phuket Town.  The other seven are located in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Sawan, Hat Yai, and behind the Samsen Nai post office in Bangkok. 

The postal counter in the Phuket museum is my only source of Thai new issues, apart from the increasingly-frequent folders containing limited-edition four-stamp mini-sheets and the occasional stamps that sellout before supplies are sent south from Bangkok (this usually happens with the annual issues for special Buddhist holy days such as the recent Vesak Buja).  The postal clerks usually give me the ancient Phuket hand canceller whenever I wish to make unofficial first day or other commemorative covers.

The Phuket Philatelic Museum is housed in the building that served as the province’s first official post office and was formally opened on 14 December 2004, just prior to the devastating tsunami that claimed so many lives in the region.  Displays focus on telling the history of Thailand’s postal and telegraph services – the latter of which was closed on 30 April 2007 after 133 years of operation.

Phuket Philatelic Museum

The main room contains displays of stamps – usually enlarged photographs rather than the actual stamps – one of which portrays the Royal forerunners of the first official Siamese issues in the late nineteenth century.  Another room features various bits of postal and telegraphy equipment.  There is also a library with extensive holdings on the postal history of the Kingdom (unfortunately for me, these books and journals are all in the Thai language which I can’t read) which also serves as a meeting room for local stamp clubs. The exhibits do change from time to time and the museum is currently undergoing a remodeling due to the establishment of a drive-thru postal counter.

SAM_4912

The history of the land and the building itself are quite interesting.  Originally, the land was the property of Phraya Vichitsongkram (Thut Rattanadilok na Phuket), the first governor of Siam’s western provinces which included Phuket.  The Chao Ley (sea gypsy) people from Tukkae Cape on Koh Sirey (an island just to the east of Phuket Town) paddled along the Bangyai Canal to this spot in order to bring seafood in exchange for consumer goods with the town people living in the area.  The small pier was also used by the people of Koh Yao in Phang Nga Province when they did their business in Phuket.  Local villagers often rested here because there were lines of shady coconut trees.  There were also Nipah palm and Phapru forests here.

In 1882 the land became Crown property and the province’s Government House was constructed here.  The future King Mongkut (Rama VI) inspected the area during a Royal Tour in 1909 and wrote the following in his report:

This place was originally the residence of Phra Anurakyotha (Nout) who was appointed Governor to supervise the interests of the King in Muang Phuket.  The house is a spacious three-storey building attached to a long one-storey pavilion.  The office of Rajalohakit is located in the smaller building and was originally the residence of Phraya Vichitsonghram’s son.  The government’s offices are disperse in different places all against the same wall.  The prison is adjacent to this place.  The prison itself is a large hall building which has no external windows, but there are some air holes and in the past it is thought that the building was used as a storehouse for Phrya Vichitsongkram.  This Government Official had been persuaded by some unknown person to go into tin mining.  Chao Khun Ratsada was considering moving the Government’s Hall and other offices to a new location, but to where the documentation does not make clear.

Postman-SiamWhen tin-mining operations (then Phuket’s principal industry), expanded into this area, the Government Office and other facilities had to move to the present Provincial Hall further north and east. According to the royal annals of King Rama VI, the post office was established in 1930.  The government finished construction of the one-story Panyah-roofed Post and Telegraph Office on the site in 1932. 

The white reinforced concrete building features square poles in incised line patterns connected to each other with cement railings.  Louvered window frames are painted on oak which let the light come through via clear glass on the top parts of the windows.  The lofty ceiling is painted white wood, matched with wooden shuttered doors beneath.  The edge of the roof comprises about 10-centimeter thick concrete while Panyah-style roofing with half-cylinder Chinese hardened clay tiles.  The façade sign is written in old-style characters.

Scan_20141226 (41)

During an enormous flood in 1942, Phuket Town was inundated by water from the Bangyai Canal.  It caused overflows into the post office and, ironically enough, the fisheries office.  Flood waters turned Montri Road  (which fronts the post office building to the east) into a new canal, along which boats from Koh Yao and Koh Sirey could once again navigate close to Krabi and Vichitsongkram Roads.

The Phra Pitakshinpracha estate later intended to fill in the Bangyai Canal and sell that particular piece of land but the local municipality interceded in order to leave the canal as a waterway out to sea.  Some adjacent pieces of land were sold to the Thavornwongwong and Ngan Tawee families.  The location where the Pearl Hotel is today was developed into a tin mine and a building was later built as the island’s first department store.  At that time, the post office was considered as occupying a prime piece of real estate.

Scan_20141225 (58)

Apart from the post office, other government offices such as the electricity office, public health office and even a branch of Siam Commercial Bank were also located there.

SAM_4906By 1981, the Post and Telegraph Office of Muang Phuket building had fallen into a state of decay.  The Phuket Provincial Council submitted a proposal to the Region 8 Postal Office in Surat Thani to demolish the old building in order to build a new post office.  The Fine Arts Department realized the historic value of the old post office in its Sino-Portuguese architectural style and registered it to be a preserved building.  Starting in 1994, the building was renovated and established as the Phuket Philatelic Museum, officially opening in 2004.  The new three-story main post office for Phuket was constructed just to the north of the old building.

20060818-105109

SAM_4907

SAM_4913

When I thought about creating a stamps only blog, I knew I wanted a design I could be proud of.  However, I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination and tend to put together half-realized ideas using cut-and-paste methods that would make Photoshop users cringe.  I have nothing against Photoshop per se, it’s just that I’ve never been able to master even the simplest of tasks using it.

The rotating banners on “Philatelic Pursuits” all feature a similar design which started with a scan of a stamp in the 1946 Peace Issue omnibus, in this case the 2p gray black issued by Turks & Caicos (Scott #90) on 4 November 1946.  Basically, I erased most of the design using Microsoft Paint keeping only the perforations and border.

Continue reading “In Pursuit Of A Banner I Can Be Proud Of”