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Mail Delivery in a 3rd World Country

A few months back, I sent a small package containing a George’s Pizza t-shirt to Hollywood, California. When I asked the lady at the counter how long would it take, she fiddled with the keyboard and eventually shook her head and said just four short sentences using fairly decent English.

1. Three weeks.

2. Covid.

3. I don’t know why.

4. Ask America.

The odd part was that the package would leave Thailand within five days and then the rest of the journey was up to the US Postal Service. If I remember correctly the delivery took about six weeks.

The mail service in Thailand is surprisingly efficient and affordable. It is run by the Thailand Post that has 19 logistical centers, 1,300 post offices and 3,300 post office Mom & Pop shops. In 2016 Thailand Post reported a net profit of 3.5 billion Baht which is a little over 112 million bucks; give or take a few Benjamins. The US Postal Service posted a net loss of approximately $5.6 billion for 2016.

On one of our adventures, Dee and I were up in the mountains of northern Thailand in the province of Mae Hong Son. We had been visiting a local village when we spotted the mail box that the villagers use. Luckily, there was a shop next door that sold post cards and stamps. So, Dee decided to send a post card back to our place in Phitsanulok province which is only about 350 miles away, but a good ten hours drive away. Below is my wife demonstrating the correct usage of the local mail box.

In Bangkok there are Post Boxes scattered throughout for people to use. The outgoing mail can only go in two slots. Bangkok and Other Places.

The motorcycle shown below is what most mail carriers used to deliver the letters and boxes. I don’t know how they manage to deliver the mail to the correct address, but most of the time these Thai postal workers do a great job. They even deliver junk mail.

Just a couple of days ago, I received three packages containing t-shirts from the states. They all had different postmark dates, but the average time in transit was about a month. The one from Alaska cost around $40 to mail. Here in Thailand every small package that I send to the states is close to $50. And it usually arrives in America in less than five days. Then apparently, the Pony Express picks up the package and heads out.

The post card that Dee mailed only took three days to arrive and is now displayed in one of our family albums. Why I have no idea. She didn’t even write a message on the card, just our address. Anyway, I’m thinking that the US Post Office needs to acquire a few motorcycles and some faster airplanes...

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