18 January 2010

Stamps Not at Face Value

I said this time it would be on registered mail codification. Now I change my mind because I found something interesting and can't wait to share with you. Rev. Charlie Dittmeier, a Maryknoller who now works for deaf welfare in Cambodia, has written about his experience at the Phnom Penh Central Post Office, with his kind permission I would like to quote it here for your amusement:

"Today I went to the post office to buy stamps. I would like to ask our office manager to get them for me when he goes to the post office every day to pick up the mail (there is no mail delivery in Cambodia), but the counter clerks always want to charge him more than the the actual costs of the stamps. I told the clerk that I wanted ten 2600 riel stamps. 2600 riel is the amount for a letter to the United States. She didn't have any 2600 riel stamps--they don't print that value -- so I was expecting some combination that would equal 2600 riel. But to my surprise she gave me ten 1000-riel stamps and ten 1800-riel stamps and said just to use them even though it was putting too much postage on the letters. I only paid 26,000 riel for them but got 28,000 riel worth of stamps. It's no matter to the clerk. As long as there's enough on the letter, it's OK.

In any developed country to deliberately sell the wrong value of stamps for the amount received would cause all kinds of problems! Not in Cambodia!

These are the stamps Fr. Ditteier bought at last.
(photo by Fr. Ditteier)

Fr. Dittmeier has very interesting writings and photos on the society and politics of Cambodia through the eyes of an American. Please click here for the homepage of his enlightening website.

Hit here for Fr. Dittmeier's original 7th June 2005 entry.

In my 19th June 2009 blog entry I mentioned a Briton blogger, Michelle, has her story at the Phnom Penh CPO, please click here to read if you miss it.

13 January 2010

2001 Train S/S Miscut

The blog entry revision work is almost done, a few entries are rewritten or with scans/photos added. In the next entry there will have a little peep at registered mail codification.

In the meantime let's have a little freak piece for entertainment.

Cambodia, just as all other countries, has errors, freaks and oddities. There are inverts, colour variations, colour missing, blind perforations, misperforations, miscuts, design errors and many others, although they don't flood, they are not hard to come by.

Above shown is a CTO S/S of the 2001 PhilaNippon'01 trains issue. The pictorial set keeps thematic collectors eyes open, Cambodia specialists just treat it as another wallpaper yawn.

Originally there is white margin on four sides of the S/S design, the single direction shift in cutting results in bottom and right margins missing while the top and left margins so wide that margin markings can clearly be seen.

This CTO S/S freak is not particularly scarce, but quite interesting to look at.

3 January 2010

Amazing Musical Kites

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts announces that the 3rd Cambodia International Kite Festival will be held in early January to celebrate the 2010 Victory Day (a day to commemorate the fall of the Pol Pot regime).

On 6th and 7th January, local kite flyers from all of Cambodia will flock to the southwest province of Koh Kong with contestants from PR China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, France, Italy and Sweden to compete in the kite flying games.

Cambodia is no stranger to the medal podium of kite flying competitions. In 2007 and 2008 Cambodia won the 2nd runner up in the Chinese and Indian competitions. In 2009 the Kingdom proudly took the championship.

Kite flying is a traditional sport in Cambodia to play in dry season with best wind after rice harvest (in January).

Tradtional Klèng Ek

Among all Khmer kites, Klèng ek (the musical kite) is the most distinctive. Once used in religious ceremonies, the paper or silk made klèng ek is equipped with a bow made from rattan, bamboo or palm leaf which vibrates in the wind, it can produce a distinctive musical sound of four to five different notes.

Kite flying culture was brought down by the Khmer Rouge but in recent years the Royal Government has been working hard to revive it. To learn more about the Khmer kite history and renaissance, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Drachen Foundation (USA) have informative publications which may be a good start, please check out the hyperlinks at the end of this blog entry.

Cambodia Post has joined the revival effort as well. In 2001 a set of 5 stamps was released to promote kite flying culture, it is an exciting issue which most collectors miss the significance. Five of the many kinds of traditional Khmer kites are featured:
  • 300r - khleng chak (tatoo kite)
  • 500r - khleng kanton (pouch kite)
  • 1000r - khleng phnong (i.e. kleng ek, musical kite)
  • 1500r - khleng kaun morn (chicken kite)
  • 3000r - khleng me ambao (butterfly kite)

Next time when you are in Phnom Penh, do visit the National Kite Museum within the National Cultural Centre and greet the majestic Khmer kites.
Please click here for information.

Extent reading:
Ben Ruhe, An Expanding Asia Kit Scene Bringing Kites Back to Cambodia, Kite Journal Issue 7, the Drachen Foundation, 2001.

Sim Sarak and Cheang Yarin, Khmer Kites, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, 2002.