Today I enjoyed the second of two straight days off due to student cancellations. I was able to spend some rare time off relaxing and even did a bit of Christmas shopping for myself. I’ve been extremely busy with various projects over the past few weeks and the rest of the ten days remaining until Christmas will be just as busy if not more so. In fact, my next day off will be the 26th of December (yes, I will be working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). I cancelled my lessons for Boxing Day because it is the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami and I intend to mark the day in a couple of different ways.
I think I’ve been busier working on my stamps and postcards than at any other time since I moved to Thailand nearly a decade ago. I currently have six Postcrossing cards on their way to destinations around the globe. The postcard shown above, picturing images from Wat Chalong here in Phuket, was one I sent to Wiener Neustadt, Austria, in late November. It was registered as “arrived” today and in doing so took just sixteen days to travel 8,773 kilometers. There are still three cards I mailed a week prior to this one that have yet to arrive (sent to Germany, China and the United States). It’s been a while since I’ve received a postcard but hopefully that drought will end soon.
In the meantime, I’ve been working hard to catalogue the cards I already have in my collection. At the beginning of this month, I started a new postcard-only blog called “Please, Mister Postman!” and have been posting articles about some of my earlier cards. I’d scanned a number of them a couple of years ago and have now finished writing about each of these. Today, I purchased a brand-new scanner (a heavily discounted HP) and have begun scanning additional postcards. I do have a lot so I don’t mind that my mailbox has been empty lately so I can get caught up to the present.
As you can see, I’ve written a lot for Asian Meanderings as well. We are in the fourth day of the “12 Days of Christmas Stamps 2014” series and am pleased to say that I’ve pre-written all of the articles except for the final one as I have yet to decide which country’s stamps to feature for Christmas Eve. It was a lot of work to write all of these as I often couldn’t find the information I needed for the stamps I liked the best! You will probably notice that later articles tend to use more quotes from press releases… At least the WordPress “scheduled posts” feature is working well so far. I’m staring to use this on the postcard blog as well.
I have been spending a lot of time on eBay in recent weeks and have added a few stamps to my collection, mostly older issues from Pitcairn Islands and a few from Thailand (and I plan a visit to the Phuket Philatelic Museum tomorrow to pick up some recent issues). But several items have eluded me due to extremely high shipping costs. I would love to purchase either the 2014 or 2015 edition of the Scott Specialized Catalogue 1840-1940 (hardbound) but I really don’t want to pay US $75 to ship the darn book to me (plus whatever customs fees might me extorted once it arrives in Thailand). Ditto a nice worldwide or specialized album, stock books, postcard album pages, etc. Now that I’m starting to plan my annual April holiday (for Thai New Year), I’m thinking that I may have to spend a couple of days in Bangkok and see what the stamp dealers in the capital have in the way of supplies.
In more stamp-related news, I recently printed my sheets for the Muang Phuket Local Post’s tsunami anniversary issue due for “release” on 26th December. They came out nicely on the self-adhesive paper and I even reprinted some of last year’s stamps as well (mostly the Christmas designs for use on my holiday cards this year). I’m preparing a limited amount of first day covers and will try to get them postmarked at the Phuket Town and Patong post offices. I may try to go to Khao Lak that day as well; I’m waiting to see the schedule of memorial events.
I was determined to write a bunch of Christmas cards this year. I bought envelopes for the stockpile of cards I’ve accumulated in past years. I gathered or updated addresses for a couple of dozen people I wanted to send cards to. I even purchased tiny gifts including Thai calendars, bookmarks, etc. to insert in the envelopes. But it is so difficult to find the time and write something by hand when so much else is going on at the same time. Not to mention the extremely unseasonable weather makes it hard to get into the holiday letter-writing mood. I wrote one…and managed to smear much of the ink with my left-handedness. It cost 63 baht to mail it and I realized then if I sent a card to everybody on my list I would have to spend more than 2000 baht. So, I’ll spread my cards out over several years. Five this year, five next year, etc. Plus, they will be New Year’s cards (January). Perhaps even Chinese New Year’s cards (February). Definitely not Thai New Year’s cards (April). I hope not, anyway….
Things are a bit hectic at work as well. I had to write a lengthy course outline for a new business student and keep up with IELTS-preparation and advanced writing lessons. This sometimes requires a bit of homework by the teacher! This Thursday and Friday I will be helping to lead an English camp at a school in the north part of Phuket along with three other teachers. Apparently, the entire format of this camp was changed yesterday and I have yet to be informed of the new activities that have been scheduled. Somehow I’ll need to prepare for these in between my lessons tomorrow and Wednesday.
My social calendar is also starting to fill up in the final pre-holiday stretch. I was invited to Phuket premiere of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” this Wednesday night so I’ll go to that. It will be the only movie I will see in the cinema all year. Friday night, one of my co-workers is hosting a Christmas party that he promises will be “just like home” and on Monday I’m attending the wedding after-party for another teacher. I’m lucky that my regular Wednesday night student has just informed me that he will be travelling to Chiang Mai next week so I won’t have to work too late on Christmas Eve. The following day, I still have one lesson scheduled for 19:00 to 20:30 so that won’t be so bad. It might be kind of fun to be in the shopping mall (my school is located in the basement) on Christmas. I’ll try to remember to take my camera in case something interesting happens.
This coming weekend, the 20th and the 21st, my school will host it’s annual Christmas party for the kids. Once again, they have asked me to be their resident Santa Claus but I have so far resisted this. I did it two years ago and the guy they got to do it last year just wasn’t jolly enough. I believe I’ll be too tired and, besides, I teach adult professionals on Saturday and they wouldn’t appreciate me skipping out of class to don the red suit and beard. Nope, sorry. No Santa Mark for 2014.
I’ll finally be able to relax a bit in another two weeks. My school will be closed for four days for Western New Year (30th December through 2nd January). I have no real plans for the holiday other than my usual bout of working on stamps and postcards (and writing about that) as well as a fair amount of reading. I will probably begin preliminary design work on the next Muang Phuket Local Post stamps (marking the start of the Asian Economic Community in 2015). Finally, I will make at least one appearance at the municipality government’s Countdown Phuket celebration as this is held at Sanam Chai, the large field across from Provincial Hall on one side and City Hall across the street at the corner. It’s a ten-minute walk from my front door so I can’t miss it!
Back to work now…