Yes, this is my 200th post on this, my postcard blog. Postcards To Phuket started out its relatively young life on December 2, 2014, called “Please, Mr. Postman!” a name which I later changed to The Postcard Traveler Blog and recently to its current incarnation. I’ve only changed the basic design twice in three years; I really like how it looks. I just wish I could find the time/motivation to post more often.
During the entire month of October, I have been paying tribute to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Aduyladej (Rama IX) of Thailand on a blog that I have posted to each and every day since July 1, 2016. Called A Stamp A Day, it features stamps usually based on the issuing entity (country, territory, organization) and give a detailed political and postal history. Occasionally, I will mark various holidays and anniversaries of historic events, birthdays, etc. with an appropriate stamp.
King Bhumibol died on October 13, 2016, and the entire nation has been in mourning for more than a year now. The Royal Funeral will occur this coming week from October 25-29, 2017. Most of October has seen event cancellations, bar/shop closures, in-country graying-out of websites and television broadcasts, etc. as the Kingdom gears up to say its final farewell to its most beloved king. (For much more about the amazing levels to which the Thai people and many expats such as myself mourn His Majesty, please have a look on my article entitled “The Death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej“.)
I decided that I would post one stamp featuring King Bhumibol each day of October until the official mourning period is over (midnight October 29) as my own small tribute, a gift to my friends and students. Several of them have actually taken up stamp collecting as a result to my showing them how beautiful their nation’s stamps are and how His Majesty has been portrayed on them for 70 years. My original intent was to include minimal commentary, just technical details about the stamps themselves. The idea was that by not spending so much time on A Stamp A Day each day, I would have more time to devote to my other blogs, like this one.
I realized the first week that each of the stamps had a bigger story to tell and soon the research took over as I attempted to detail various aspects of King Bhumibol’s life. My routine most days was to look through my Thai stamps trying to decide on a subject to cover that day. For many, I couldn’t rely on Wikipedia as a source at all the way I’m able to for so many other philatelic topics. Say what you will to criticize the site but the stamp and geo-political articles are generally top-notch. Many days, the research involved a lot of Googling (and some translating as well). Sometimes, the topic would lead to other things. It was during the piecing together of an article about His Majesty’s favorite dog that I recalled the New Year’s cards that would be published in newspapers each year.
While not a postcard, a New Year’s card is similar enough to include on Postcards to Phuket!
King Bhumibol created the New Year’s cards himself using his personal computer every year starting in 1988. He used color photographs of himself with one or more of his dogs on the cards issued from 2006 until 2014. These were sent out to government organizations and the media for widespread publication. The cards often included a poem bearing a royal message and a royal blessing to the King’s subjects.
The New Year’s card for 2015 featured a poster advertising the animated film, “The Story of Mahajanaka,” which was based on his literary work. Khun Tondaeng died on December 29, 2015, so the card made by His Majesty two days later includes a close-up photo of the King wearing a blazer with a logo of his favorite dog. This would be the last of King Bhumibol’s cards prior to his death on October 13, 2016.
Below are the New Year’s cards created by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej from 1998 until the 2016 card:
New Year 1998 Card by His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 1997/12/31 17:19
New Year 1999 Card by His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 1998/12/31 19:09
New Year Card 2000 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 1999/12/30 18:29
New Year Card 2001 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2000/12/30 23:29
New Year Card 2002 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2001/12/30 17:39
New Year Card 2003 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2002/12/31 20:09
New Year Card 2004 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2003/12/31 20:09
New Year Card 2006 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2005/12/27 21:49
New Year Card 2007 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2006/12/29 23:05
New Year Card 2008 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2007/12/23 20:10
New Year Card 2009 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2008/12/31 19:22
New Year Card 2010 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2009/12/28 15:25
New Year Card 2011 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2010/12/23 12:19
New Year Card 2012 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2011/12/29 18:50
New Year Card 2013 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2012/12/29 18:50
New Year Card 2014 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2013/12/31 06:09
New Year Card 2015 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2014/12/30 10:21
New Year Card 2016 from His Majesty the King. Card creation date: 2015/12/31 15:02
At New Year’s 2017, a card was sent out by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) which featured photographs of King Bhumibol, Queen Sirkit, and the Princesses as well as the yet-to-be-crowned successor king.
On January 23, 2017, a set of four seasonal greetings cards hand-drawn by King Vajiralongkorn, expressing his best wishes and offering guidance on happiness, were put on sale in Thailand. Proceeds from the cards were to go to a charity in honor of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to help flood victims in the southern provinces of Thailand.
Four different types of cards were available at 90 baht each. Each card features the King’s drawings of a house, a Christmas tree, a snowman, presents, happy people, and a dog. One greeting card also features a Buddha image and a worshipper at the top left corner, with a message reading: “End suffering, grief, illnesses, and danger with a firmness of the heart. Exercise self-restraint with complete concentration, and peace. Cultivate wisdom, and happiness will occur gradually.”
On the top right corner of the card, another message says: “Sor Kor Kor,” or send happiness with love. Wish each other well. Have decent thoughts,” along with a drawing of an angel holding a star wand and a mobile phone. There is also a message reading: “Send happiness. Increase mindfulness and develop wisdom. Move forward with goodwill, kindness, and carefulness for the sake of lasting happiness. Think and dream in moderation.”
The bottom right of the cards bear the King’s signature, with the greetings: “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2017” along with pictures of a present and a candle. Another card shows Santa Claus riding a sleigh pulled by two reindeer carrying Christmas gifts with the words “Ho Ho Ho!!” at the top. An angel also appears, along with the message: “Be happy with your mental and physical health and have a clear mind. Take pleasure in moderation, with the right understanding, concentration, and wisdom. Live a simple life and move forward safely and securely.”
It was very nice to see such Christmas-oriented cards from His Majesty the King in a nation where more than 90% of the population practices some form of Buddhism. Christmas is celebrated by the expat community and tourists but most Thai people know it for the “fun factor” rather than the religious aspects. It certainly is not a holiday here and actual Christmas cards are extremely rare except as highly-priced imported objects.