Snail Mail

I started a correspondence with the world. The idea is to send postcards at random to people across the world, and receive postcards in return. I’ve been on for 72 days now, and it’s been fun! BVs automatically get erased, and I feel good the rest of the day.

3rd card from China, dated 12/24. 26 days traveled

You should try knowing what it feels like to expect for real mail, and not just something sent electronically to your @ address/es. My reason for joining was partly to test out the local postal system myself, if it still works the old school way. I grew up seeing household helpers writing long letters on yellow pad, sealing wishes and yearnings in that blue and red bordered envelope you can buy in any sari-sari store. But I haven’t tried sending something via snail mail, until now. So far it has been a roller coaster of emotions – expectation, doubt, distress, desperation… and finally, finally! hope and elation. The first 2 months are the hardest, because you have to waaaaaaaait. Snail mail, bud. In other parts of the world, mail could reach you 3-5 days, but in our case, overseas letters take their time.

5th card from Moscow, dated 12/28. 34 days traveled

As of now I’ve sent 10 and received 5 from Postcrossing, and 1 from a friend (whom you should check out by the way, she makes all-original stuff, postcards one of ’em). I’ve addressed postcards to countries like the US, Brazil, and the Netherlands, and received from countries such as China, Russia, and Singapore. Travel time varies per country: my postcards to Netherlands took 15 days, while those to/from Russia took approximately 35 days.

Postcrossers usually write down requests in their profiles, which you can choose to or not to follow. A tracking system is assigned to you (don’t worry, it’s just something you write down on the card). Quite easy, actually. It’s getting started that’s difficult, since motivation is difficult to build up. But you should see my reaction whenever I’m told I have mail now! When I write a postcard I try to fill up the whole space reserved for the message. Now I look at every card as an opportunity to share something about myself and the country. Although I’m addressing strangers, somehow, the mutual desire to share the idea of Postcrossing makes me feel as if I’m sending an everyday letter to a friend. And I want to share that same experience to anyone else interested.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to travel and meet new people, this is a cheap alternative you could try. Sending overseas costs 14Php, local is 7Php. I buy most of my postcards in National Bookstore. If you hop different branches, you could find more unique cards, and they’re a steal at 1-20Php. You can search for your local post office here. For postage, I usually just hand my postcards to the person at the counter, and they take care of the rest.

I hope this motivates you. Happy Postcrossing!

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11 thoughts on “Snail Mail

  1. Old school! I remember writing letters to my friends (I even had a pen pal in Greece!) through snail mail back in the day (ok, back in the 80s, hehe). It really was committing words to paper cuz there was no backspace and cut-paste. Drafting was a pain in the fingers and a waste of paper. We got used to editing and organizing our thoughts before writing. Now that trait has become a bad habit in encoding today. I find it hard to move on to the next paragraph because I couldn’t stop editing the present one. :D

    And you’re right, the agony was in the waiting for the response! It took weeks and you had to remember what you actually wrote to put the reply in its proper context. Such were our hardships then. People nowadays have it all so easy, if kids only know.

    Luvin’ your blog, Baki. Thanks for lurking in mine, otherwise I wouldn’t have found ya. ;)

    • I may not fully grasp your experience with snail mail, but every inch of space I waste in postcards due to erasures is a lost opportunity to write more.

      “I find it hard to move on to the next paragraph because I couldn’t stop editing the present one.” Same problem here, but I think of it as a good exercise (though an unhelpful one with deadlines).

      “It took weeks and you had to remember what you actually wrote to put the reply in its proper context.” So very true! That’s why I find recipients who send thank you emails with comments on my message a blessing.

      Still, despite the hardships, don’t you still think it beautiful to write messages longhand?

      • Of course! Manual writing (as opposed to typing) is organic and more personal because it bears the writer’s unique handwriting. There’s a romanticism in it that using a keyboard could never achieve. It’s also deliberate, so you know the writer took time and effort, unlike responding mindlessly to a thread. :)

  2. wooo… Cool! I must try this one of these days! I remember sending mail to my ex-gf who used to live in Palawan. Question, where do you get there address(for the random ones)?

    • hi gladjaytor! members of Postcrossing are required to save their addresses for this purpose. once you ask for an address, the site gives you a profile user with his or her address in random, and with a corresponding ID. yes try it! it’s very addictive :D

      here’s how it all works: http://www.postcrossing.com/about

    • Not when you request an ID. But if you’re open to direct swap you can choose wherever or whomever you wish to send, just message a member through their profile pages. Can’t guarantee a postcard in return though :(

  3. this is pretty good practice to write little bit on piece of paper, and pasting attractive stamp..

  4. Lovely post! Thank you for writing this! I choose a handwritten letter or card over an email any day ! The handwriting of your loved one, can’t be replaced with strokes of a keyboard ! Love the Moscow card.. Made me homesick .. Mayakovskaya .. ( sigh )

    • Hi Elena! Thank you for visiting and commenting on my site! You should visit the Philippines someday as I should try visiting Moscow and seeing Mayakovskaya station myself, and other countries too.

      You’re very lucky to have visited a lot of countries already…

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