The 26th of December marks ten years since since a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra devastated the region surrounding the Indian Ocean and beyond. Although local resorts and government officials like to pretend it never happened in order to not “frighten” potential tourists, remembering the terrible loss of life has deep meaning to many long-time local residents, including myself. It’s unfortunate (and, indeed painful to the families involved) that – in order to keep the actual death counts for Phuket low – many victims are still officially listed here as “missing”. In fact, Phuket originally wasn’t planning to mark this year’s anniversary (and spent the intended budget on the recent Asian Beach Games) but an outcry from family members intending to visit on Boxing Day seems to have taken care of that.
I wanted to do something personal and special to mark the ten years and so I have resurrected the Muang Phuket Local Post to pay tribute. The new issue (only the second of 2014 following last January’s World War I centennial local post stamp) consists of two designs depicting artwork created by Phuket primary school students. They are being issued in 25- and 50-satang “denominations”; these are the tiny brass coins that shop-keepers love to give you in change but rarely accept as payment! They are imperforate (no “holes”) and printed in self-adhesive sheets of 36 (six stamps by six stamps) and 16 (four by four).
I will attempt to service a limited number of First Day Covers on the 26th; it’s always a bit of guesswork whether or not the clerks will accept certain items for cancellation here and hand-back service is usually only available at the Philatelic Museum shop (which may be closed that day). Any FDC’s produced will include one or both of the tsunami charity stamps released by Thailand on the first anniversary in 2005 in addition to the Muang Phuket Local Post stamps providing the cachet on the left side (see digital mockup below).
I was very careful not to include the word “tsunami” on the stamps or in the postmark; indeed the only indication of the memorial nature of this release is in the margins of the mini-sheet. I felt the images were fairly obvious without upsetting any sensitivities.
These stamps constitute the eighth separate release of Muang Phuket Local Post (six in 2013 and now two in 2014) and are the fourteenth and fifteenth individual stamps issued. They are the first on self-adhesive paper, rather than requiring glue sticks to affix them. I hope someday to be able to have perforations and lick-and-stick gum! If I am successful with the planned First Day Covers, I will announce their availability in a separate article.