In this digital era, people seldom send mail to their friends. Why do that when your friend is just a Facebook message away, right?
I personally still love sending postcards to friends who are overseas as a way of showing love and appreciation. Postcards are precious if you think about how the person has taken time to write them, buy stamps and send it to the post office in the midst of their daily activities.
This entry is inspired by a couple of friends who have been asking for tips on how to write and send postcards. Hopefully you will be on your way to the post office with confidence to look for postcards and stamps after this!
Some postcards from friends who live or have traveled overseas. Thank you!
How is a postcard different from standard mail?
While standard mail requires envelopes and charges go by weight, a postcard is a category on its own. It is a rectangular card with no envelope, not folded, and is designed for short and simple messages. They require stamps (they do not have special stamps) and are for non-commercial use only.
How much does it cost to send a postcard from Malaysia?
It only costs one RM0.30 stamp to send a postcard to any Malaysian destination while international ones cost one RM0.50 stamp per postcard. Yes, you read that right. It is actually so affordable to send postcards overseas from Malaysia! I still remember sending postcards from Europe to Malaysia and they go for €1 – 1.70 each while the Australia Post charges from $1.85 – 2.75 depending on the zones.
Screenshot from www.pos.com.my. Take note of the GST charges on stamp purchases implemented by Pos Malaysia recently.
How long will the postcards take to reach?
Honestly, it depends on the destination. It can take from a week up to a month (sometimes two months) depending on the efficiency of the post offices. As long as all your recipient’s details are accurate, it shouldn’t be a problem. Some countries may recommend purchasing a tracking service although I think it’s unnecessary.
How do I write my postcards?
Typically, the messages are written on the left half while the recipient’s address and stamp go on the right. Some postcards may be designed the other way around — as long as the address is clear.
Be sure to place your stamp on the very top right. You may also include the name of the recipient above the address.
Your recipient’s address should at least contain: apartment / block / house number, street address, town / district, postcode, state and country (for international destinations). As for the message section, write anything you like! It could be a greeting or a very simple message like:
Hello from *insert city*! It’s raining heavily right now so I’m sitting indoors with hot cocoa and local biscuits. My AirBnb host’s cat is keeping me company.
If you are unsure, look for something happening in the present or a favourite memory of your trip so far. This also goes unsaid but please skip any sensitive information e.g. bank account details, the password to your diamond safe, etc.
Examples of more elaborate postcards:
Thank you for this postcard, Sharon! So beautifully done with her calligraphy work and stickers. You can check her out on Instagram @ronnycakes :)
Your postcard does not have to be all that flat. Wax seals, considering how well they stick, are no problem.
For postcards with no pre-drawn lines for addresses, you can always draw them in by yourself. I am absolutely confident that you can draw a few straight lines :)
Where can I buy postcards?
For touristy postcards, you can get them at souvenir shops or even at regular post offices. They go for a few Ringgit and are not considered expensive.
I personally love getting mine from Stickerrific @ Jaya One because of their unique designs. Here are some that you can get there:
Vintage ad postcards.
Top: Malaysian food postcards which I have been using to “torture” some Malaysian friends who are overseas.
Bottom: [NOT FROM STICKERRIFIC] Postcards from the Pansodan Art Gallery in Yangon.
Childhood snacks postcards set — perfect for something nostalgic, especially if your recipient is a childhood friend.
Travel life postcards by Taiwanese artist, Silver Yang.
The best thing about Stickerrific is that they can send your postcards for you. All you have to do is pay for the stamps (30 or 50 cents per card) and drop your masterpieces into the box provided at the counter. Alternatively, there is a post office at Jaya One as well that you can visit, located at 53.f-P2, Block D.
Tip: If you plan to get some postcards for keepsake, buy two! No harm doing that ;)
A couple more tips
Post offices have their ways of ensuring that people do not reuse stamps. This is called “hand-cancelling” — the stamp marks made across the postage stamps (see image above). They can also come in the form a few wavy lines. To ensure that your masterpieces are not ruined, be sure to leave some empty spaces around the stamp, usually towards the left hand side.
Other than keeping the address area as readable as possible, try not to use gel pens to write your postcards. Look for waterproof ones, ball pens, and you can always trust a Sharpie marker. This is in case of any unfortunate events e.g. bad weather where your postcard gets drenched, smudges appear, etc. Although these are unlikely to happen as postcards are usually well taken care of, it is best to be safe.
Some brands that I have used on postcards that have reached my recipients without any damage: Tombow (Dual Brush Pens, Fudenosuke), Pilot (Kakuno Fountain Pen), MUJI (ball pens – THE BEST!! I swear by these pens!)
If you are sending postcards from an unfamiliar city, always do your research beforehand or try checking with the locals when you arrive. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel to direct you to a post office near you. Some hotel services include sending postcards for you but the only downside of that is not being able to experience sending them by yourself.
For the more adventurous ones or if you would like to make new friends, you can try Postcrossing where you can send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person anywhere in the world. I have not tried it due to time constraints but one day for sure!
More than just a card
Postcards are lovely souvenirs for those who love handwritten crafts, and the best part of it is that you need not carry them back with you. I am always very happy when my friends ask if they can send me a postcard during their travels. You would be surprised how such a little thing can brighten up someone’s day.
These pieces of paper traveling around the globe are more than just paper. I believe that they carry meaning, so personal between the sender and recipient, that technology cannot ever replace.