Thailand reserves the second Saturday in January each year to honor the Kingdom’s children and gives them the opportunity to have fun and to create awareness about their significant role towards the development of the country, Established in October 1955, National Children’s Day (Wan Dek Haeng Chat — วันเด็กแห่งชาติ) was observed on the first Monday of October until 1964. The celebration was changed to January beginning in 1965. There is a Thai saying that states, “Children are the future of the nation, if the children are intelligent, the country will be prosperous.”
All across the country, communities, non-governmental organizations, children’s charities and government officials sponsor special events and activities for children to participate in. This includes free admission to local zoos and all of Thailand’s national parks as well as free rides on buses.
Many government offices are open to children and their family including Government House and the Parliament House Complex in Bangkok and various military installations throughout the nation. These events may include a guided tour and an exhibition. A notable example is the guided tour at the Government House, where children have an opportunity to view the Prime Minister’s office and sit at the bureau. The Royal Thai Air Force usually invites children to go and explore the aircraft and the Bangkok Bank distributes stationery, such as pens, pencils and books to every child that enters the bank as a community service.
Usually, His Majesty the King gives advice addressing the children while the Supreme Monarch Patriarch of Thailand gives a moral teaching. The Prime Minister also gives each Children’s Day a theme and a slogan.
Thailand first issued stamps marking National Children’s Day with a pair issued on October 3, 1960 (Scott #343-344). Children’s Day stamps were also issued in 1961 (Scott #363-364), 1962 (Scott #383-385), and 1963 (Scott #412-413), before taking a two-year break and resuming in January 1966 (Scott #440-441). There weren’t any issues from 1967 until 1974 when a single was released (Scott #695). Annual issues followed in 1975 (Scott #718), 1976 (Scott #779), 1977 (Scott #810), and 1978 (Scott #839). A pair of stamps were issued on January 17, 1979, for International Children’s Year (Scott #875-876) and a specific release for Children’s Day appeared once again the following year (Scott #909-910). Annual stamps were issued each year after that until 1999: missing 2000-2002, and resuming in 2003 and continuing every year to date. As a teacher, I’ve set out to collect each of the Children’s Day stamps.
During each of the past three or four years, the Children’s Day stamps have carried a theme based on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which includes ten nations in the region. My favorite of these is the 2015 set, numbered by Thailand Post as TH-1059, featuring local transport in each of the ASEAN member nations — two countries are represented on each of five stamps in a mini-sheet of ten. A cartoon child in a national costume is presented next to each vehicle. Of these, I prefer “design 5” (TH-1059e) which portrays the tuk-tuk from Thailand as well as a Vietnamese cyclo. The denominations of each stamp is the domestic single letter rate of 3 baht. They were designed by Thaneth Ponchaiwong and printed by the Thai British Security Printing Company in Bangkok. Issued on January 10, 2015, other stamps in the set feature: a water taxi from Brunei and cyclo from Cambodia (TH-1059a), a becack from Indonesia and sam lo noi of Laos (TH-1059b), Malaysian tricycle and saika from Myanmar (TH-1059c), with the final stamp picturing a jeepney from The Philippines and a Singaporean san lun che (TH-1059d).
The majority of these vehicles are what is known in India as an auto-rickshaw, a motorized development of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw. Most have three wheels and do not tilt. The auto rickshaw is a common form of urban transport, both as a vehicle for hire and for private use, in many countries around the world, especially those with tropical or subtropical climates, including many developing countries. There are many different types, designs, and variations. The most common type is characterized by a sheet-metal body or open frame resting on three wheels, a canvas roof with drop-down side curtains, a small cabin at the front for the driver (sometimes known as an auto-wallah) with handlebar controls, and a cargo, passenger, or dual purpose space at the rear.
Auto rickshaws in Southeast Asia started from the knockdown production of the Daihatsu Midget which was introduced in 1957. Japan has exported three-wheelers to Thailand since 1934. Moreover, The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Japan donated about 20,000 used three-wheelers to Southeast Asia after they went out of Japanese use in the latter half of the 1960s.
The tuk-tuk (ตุ๊ก ๆ) in Thailand is a widely used form of urban transport in Bangkok and other Thai cities. The name is onomatopoeic, mimicking the sound of a small (often two-cycle) engine. An equivalent English term would be “putt-putt”. It is particularly popular where traffic congestion is a major problem, such as in Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. Drivers may also use their tuk-tuks to transport fresh produce or other goods around the city in absence of passengers. Bangkok alone is reported to have 9,000 tuk-tuks.