Tuesday, 27 July 2010

That's what friends are for!

I received these last week but I am still in philatelist's heaven!

Mailed straight from the Johannesburg's Oliver R. Tambo International Airport Post Office were two stamped South African postcards and two envelopes containing (one) a map of Botswana and (two) assorted South African mint stamp sheets!

Baie dankie to my very good friend, Fe. It pays to have friends you can bribe -- errrrr -- scratch that! It pays to have friends, period. Sadly, she and her family have left Africa to be based somewhere in... China! Well, well, well... Chinese stamps are also amazing and there's this one particular issue that I want to get for my collection... *wink-wink*

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Do you know where Middle Earth is?

I don't... but if this spectacular scenery is IT, then I'll probably traverse mountains and jungles just to be there! 

Where else could this be but New Zealand!?!? 

The postcard features the Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is a very popular tourist area with lots of beautiful sceneries, such as above. Does it look familiar? Of course, it does! It was one of the locations where the epic movie-trilogy Lord of the Rings was filmed. It was once quiet and peaceful but, after the filming of the Lord of the Rings around there, many tourists are visiting every single day, and most of the local residents are not happy.

I'm sure many of you would agree if I say that New Zealand is in the top ten of the most beautiful countries in the world. I have never been to New Zealand, true, but after watching all the Lord of the Rings movies, I felt that the movie has taken me on a journey inside this amazing country. Since I do not have the means to go there (I so want to!!) yet I think I'll just have to watch the movies all over again, that is, and let the movies take me once more to these awesome places. Which reminds me, it is best seen on a plasma tv. I wonder when will the appliance stores here go on sale? And oh, I also better keep an eye on plasma tv stands on ex-pat garage sales. What's a flat-screen tv if not mounted on a stand for maximum viewing pleasure, eh?

The stamp is a part of a 6-set international postage set issued in 2006, featuring NZ's popular tourist destinations. The one used below shows  Lake Wanaka and a historical vineyard that sit as foreground to a dramatic scenery.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Viva, Espana!

This may be a bit late -- but hey, better late than never. So here goes...

¡Las felicitaciones para ganar el futbol Copa Mundial! Y para mi amor, Rafael Nadal, para empaquetar el "clay slam" de tenis y Wimbledon. ¡Esto es el año de los deporte Españoles! 

I hope it sounded right. If not, my dear Spanish friends, you are welcome to correct me.

As I mentioned above, this year proves to be a great year for Spanish sports -- at least where football and tennis are concerned. This year, I witnessed how Rafa dominated his opponents in both clay and grass courts,  showing everyone why he is the best defensive and offensive player in tennis! As to the World Cup finals, the Netherlands played a roughshod game but the Spanish squad showed them how it should be done - playing aggressively but staying true to the spirit of sportsmanship. The roughness and toughness of football was terrifying to watch but I bet these professional players each have a disability insurance to fall back on.  I read over a sports site that Rafa, fresh from a quick holiday after winning the Wimbledon, flew to South Africa to watch the finals. With such a show of support from Rafa, he may have indirectly inspired the Spanish team... who knows? 

I'd like to bask in the festive atmosphere as I, too, rooted for Spain. Today, albeit late, I selected a postcard from Spain from among my collection that are waiting to be posted here. The view is not exactly related to sports mentioned above, but it is a greeting card. The message says Happy Festivals... for sure the whole entire country of Spain is in a fiesta-mode and has every reason to celebrate this triumphant feat and to last for as long as they want to!

Sent by Cristina
Postmarked Valladolid
18 - July - 2008

This is the Castillo Palacio de Cuéllar, or the Castle of the Dukes of Albuquerque, the most prominent landmark in the province of Segovia, in the autonomous region of Castilla y León. It is a very impressive castle, built between 13th and 14 century with a mixture of gothic and renaissance architectural styles, that sits on top of hills of Cuéllar. The fortified wall itself is impressive and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.  Categorised as a Cultural through the Spanish  Historical Heritage's Law 16/1985 of 25 June, it is a protected cultural interest owing to its historical and artistic values reflecting traditional heritage and marked value of antiquity. 

The castle was once a military building but in the 16th century it was converted and became a castle-palace owned by the Duke of Albuquerque and their descendants for centuries. In the 19th century, during the War of Independence, the French troops stormed and looted the castle and was used as barracks. At present, the  castle is housing a school facility and a museum that attracts thousands of tourists every year.

The stamps are definitive and shows the same castle, Castillo Palacio de Cuéllar. The stamps are from a 3-stamp series issued in 2003 depicting Castles in Spain under the theme of Architecture.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Geronimo and the Mystery Men

Does anyone know who this native American is?

There was no information provided on the postcard so if you know something about this, please help me out. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this picture was Geronimo, the main character of the movie with the same title back in the 90s. Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader who, according to the Wikipedia, for several years during the Apache Wars fought against Mexico and the United States against their expansion into Apache lands. His bravery, daring exploits, and numerous escapes from the hands of Mexican and American troops were legendary it is no surprise his character is popular in many Hollywood films and television. 

In the 1993 version, Geronimo was played by Wes Studi, one of my favorite albeit underrated stars of Hollywood. Wes himself is an American Cherokee who played several notable performances in his roles as an American Indian. Among the films he starred in were Dances with the Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, and of course, Geronimo: The American Legend. Recently he played the role of Eytukan in the monster blockbuster hit Avatar. I don't know if anybody remembers, but Wes also played the Sphinx in the 1999 comedy film the Mystery Men. Oh my, you should watch this movie  - it has the coolest cast in my opinion!!! 

Wes Studi took the role of the masked and mysterious Sphinx and has the power to cut guns in half with his mind. He was sought by a team of misfits ( I hate to use the word "losers") with "superpowers" who needed to save the day - played convincingly and hilariously by Ben Stiller (as Mr. Furious), Hank Azaria (as The Blue Raja), William H. Macy (as The Shoveler; surprisingly good comedic actor, too!), and my favorite Janeane Garofalo (as The Bowler). The lines are funny and most were improvised by the cast.

Rounding up the amateur team of inept superheroes were: 
  • Kel Mitchell,  as the Invisible Boy: he only becomes invisible when no one is looking, including himself;
  • Paul Reubens, as the Spleen: he talks with a lisp and has a zit-ridden face, obviously needing  acne medications; he aims his super-smelly-fart power to anyone with such ferocity;
  • Tom Waits, as Dr. A. Heller, an eccentric weapons designer who invented the "blame-thrower", "the shrinker", and the "canned tornado".
Of course, the anti-heroes are equally awesome and hilarious, too:
  • Geoffrey Rush, as the loony Casanova Frankenstein and the main antagonist. 
  • Eddie Izzard, as Tony P, Casanova's right-hand man;  and Prak Michel as Tony C., Tony P's second-in-command; they are two of Casanova's henchmen who sow terror to the tune of disco classics and other dance hits. 
  • Lena Olin, as the Dr. Anabel Leek, Casanova's associate... hehehe.
I don't know why this movie flopped in the US but this move is one of my favorites. I so agree with Philippine writer/columnist/blogger Jessica Zafra -- the Mystery Men is hysterically funny, witty, ironic, inventive, and so smart, the American audience didn't get it.

Photo Sources:
Geronimo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo:_An_American_Legend;
Mystery Men: http://vinnierattolle.blogspot.com/2009/05/mystery-men.html

Friday, 16 July 2010

Singapore Airlines postcard

This is another hand-me-down postcard and it features Singapore Airlines, the national carrier of Singapore, and the two flight stewardesses.

The ladies really look nice in their uniform and I wonder if they have considered use of any adipex diet pills to maintain such figures. I know a lot of my classmates from university have become flight attendants for our own Philippine Airlines and I know of a few others who worked in international airlines as well. It sure does look like a fun job for others -- having to go to your office up in the air, that's how my niece puts it -- and you look pretty and made-up all the time, poised and composed, but for them flight attendants it is a stressful and exhausting job having to deal with different people. Imagine forcing yourself to smile when the situation is not exactly worth smiling about? Gah.

I've never been on a Singapore Airlines flight yet but most of my colleagues who do could attest at the quality of the airline's service. And the airport, wow, it's one of the best and modern airports in the region, if not in the world. However, due to an unpleasant experience, I do not have any particular itch to go there any time soon.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I'm waiting for the husband to finish using the desktop computer so I could scan a couple or more postcards for publishing this week. We have two computers at home, one desktop (his) and one laptop (mine). However, our three-in-one machine (printer-photocopier-scanner) is connected solely to his desktop. I have no other choice but to wait, surf the net, till he is done. 

While browsing through Facebook, I noticed a lot of my Cambodian friends, and their friends and friends of their friends are going crazy over the latest iPhone. Yes, this craze has reached this third-world country! It is not even available yet here in Phnom Penh but most of these friends of mine have relatives in the USA and so I'm not surprised anymore when I saw a couple of them toting the newly-released iPhnone4 the other week. Not only that, they have the complete iphone accessories that are so cool. 

On the other hand (and in an unrelated note), in the rural areas, especially in two provinces where I used to work (in a rural ICT project funded by a Canadian organisation), schoolchildren are getting their hands on computers (XO laptops) for the first time as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Program in Cambodia. How cool is that? This is great news especially that schoolchildren in Cambodia have little or no access to computers, let alone the Internet, for learning and creative purposes. The OLPC is attempting to change this, and will definitely open the rural schoolchildren to the global village.

Where are the frogs?

I woke up today feeling better than the past two weeks sinceI started dieting. Although I was past the painstaking part where my body is craving for sugar and the headaches, drowsiness and lethargic feeling are now gone, I still have a long way to go. I need to get back to my ideal weight to achieve a healthy BMI, and that means 5kgs more to lose. Dieting can only work if I have enough self-control and discipline. Period. Oh, but if you prefer a faster way to lose weight, be very careful. Read and search for product feedbacks, like hydroxycut reviews, before plunging into a quick method to lose weight. 

Anyways, I am sharing this cute postcard from Finland:

The card shows a picture of one of Finland's well-loved story books, Little Frogs by Pienet Sammakot. I could not find any other information about this story book but I found out that Pienet Sammakot is also a music artist. Apparently there is a strong link between frogs and Finnish culture, as I've seen so many frog postcards and frog mentions in many stories, children's nursery rhymes, poems and songs. If any of you have information about this, I would appreciate your help :)

Don't you just love the cheery bright colors (mostly yellow) and the cute animal drawings? The animals' eyes are all so expressive you could somehow tell what they are thinking...  I notice though that there is no frog in it at all, which is funny because the postcard is culled from the pages of the Little Frogs storybooks.

This is a SUOMI Finland stamp issued in 2009 for first class mail, from a set of 5 in the greetings series. It shows a cup of tea or coffee and I assume a just-finished letter. This is how I want my afternoons to be, postcards/letter writing  with a cup of warm  beverage,  perfect on a rainy weather like we are having now on this side of the planet. 

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Calendar postcard

I have another postcard from Germany, this time it's from the southern city of Stuttgart.

Sent by Stefanie
Postmarked Briefzentrum 70
Dated 12 - 10 - 09

This is probably my first calendar-postcard, if I am not mistaken. Stefanie bought this postcard while holidaying on the eastern part of Germany at the side of the Baltic sea. I love the sights, Stef, und vielin, vielan dank!

Stefanie is well-traveled and she has already visited Cambodia and Vietnam some four years ago. Before sending me a postcard, she back-read some of my blog posts at Sreisaat Adventures. There she also saw my pictures of Khmer food and it instantly reminded her of the fantastic Khmer food she ate while in Cambodia. Of course she visited Angkor Wat and had a great experience temple-hopping there! At the back of the postcard she wrote about her one complaint while on holiday here -- hothothot and humid weather... she said in a joking manner that if only she could bring along a dehumidifier, she would have! But seeing the ancient temples with her own eyes more than made up for the unbearable heat of the Cambodian sun. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit here. Good luck in your next travel adventure in Asia  :)

Peniscola - a jewel in Costa del Azahar

A quick glance at this postcard gave me the impression that I was looking at a view of the famous holiday town of Santorini in Greece. What do you think?

Sent by Eva
Postmarked Castellon de la Plana
Dated 10 - 07 - 09

Fantastic view, isn't it?
Well, it is actually not in Santorini but, as the name in the postcard says, it is the Spanish town of Peñíscola, a little peninsula in Costa del Azahar about 90kms north of Valencia. It is a fortified seaport with a lighthouse built on a rocky headland about 220m high and connected to the mainland only via a narrow strip of land. According to the Wikipedia, it was built by the Knights of Templar between 1294-1307. At the top of the town (middle, topmost of the postcard) is the castle of Pope Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), called El Castillo Templario,  looking over the entire Mediterranean sea and, apart from the beautiful aquamarine beaches, it is the most popular tourist attraction in Peñíscola. Perhaps the town owes its popularity to the fact that the town and the castle was the main locations for the filming of the movie "El Cid".

Eva says that Peñíscola is on top of her most favorite places in the world. And I could only agree. Not only because this is where she was born and she had her wedding in the castle (must have been a beautiful wedding!)... but because the whole town in itself is amazing! Just by looking at the pictures of Peñíscola over the Internet makes me want to pack my bags and settle there, too. It is a perfect blend of the old and new; the old quarter is characterized by  a line of quaint white-walled houses amidst a maze of narrow and winding streets and alleys. We can't see that in this postcard but, looking at it, you can almost picture it in your mind. Eva said that when she was younger, she and her friends would play and chase each other in the winding cobble-stoned streets, going uphill and downhill.  I would have enjoyed walking around Peñíscola - it's an awesome way to lose unwanted fats without using any fitness equipment!Anyways, I will post later on another postcard that Eva sent to me -- it shows the street where she was born.

The stamp used features one of the four main Energías Renovables (renewable energy technologies), la energía geotérmica (geothermal energy). The other three of the four featured by the Correo de España are energía hidráulica (hydropower)energía eólica (wind power), y energía solar (solar energy). 

Muchas gracias por la hermosa tarjeta postal, Eva. Escribirá a usted pronto. 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Problematic ISP

Darn this ISP technical support. Or the lack thereof.
If they continue to provide a lousy service we will surely get another ISP. Yes, this explains why I was "absent" from the blogosphere since Friday night.  Gah, let's talk about something else, otherwise I would be so effing mad I would be needing wrinkle creams so soon *knocks on wood*.

So last weekend my husband and I went about our regular routine - groceries, post office (I have a small packet from Croatia and two beautiful postcards from Indonesia!!!), and brunch at one of our favorite places, the Green Vespa. Back home we just spent the weekend chillaxing, with some oldies music in the background and wine and cheese in the evening. I just love weekends, it allows my husband and I to go to places and do things together... you know, some R and R after a hectic work-week. Well, I hope you had a lovely weekend, too, and I wish you'll have another great week ahead. 

Nina, terimah kasih!
Tomi, puno hvala!
In the meantime, I'll run along now and I have some scanning duties to do. Please come back later on to see my new posts. Toodles.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Feeling sLOVEnia!

Has anyone of you seen that Robin Williams movie entitled "RV"? It's the movie where Robin took his family for a long cross-country trip on their RV... Supposedly a bonding moment for the whole family before the eldest child heads off to college while the younger son to summer camp, they encountered hilarious and disastrous twists and turns in their long road trip when the father, played by Robin Williams, decided to do some detours. Remember the scene when Robin tried to drive the RV over a mountain? Goodness gracious, if that were in real life, who knows how much rv repairs are going to be needed! *lol*

I myself wouldn't mind traveling on RV. I am imagining how exciting it is to be motor-homing and Europe will be my destination of choice! If I have a lot of money (how I wish!), I would rent one and visit this place:

Sent by Rok Gracer
Postmarked Maribor
Dated 06 April 2010

Beautiful, isn't it? Rok says this church is an old, old one and is located inside the Triglav National Park,  the only national park in Slovenia. This is known as Cerkev SV. Janeza Krstnika, or the Church of St. John the Baptist, built in the 1300s showcasing a gothic architecture, a baroque bell tower, and a covered entryway. As you can see in the postcard, it stands along the east bank of the Bohinj Lake, with the bell-tower jutting out to the sky amidst the lush greeneries of the national park.

Triglav National Park offers a wide area of green grass for camping and provides a stunning backdrop for campers, RV motor-homers, caravans and trailers. I can only wish for my wish to come true!

The stamp is part of the Flowers of Slovenia-series of definitive stamps featuring 50 flowers/stamps. This particular flower is called saw-wort, scientific name seratulla lycopifolia,  a perennial herbaceous plant ranging in height from  dwarf alpine species 5-10cms tall to tall, thistle-like plants up to 3ms tall. This flower species is native to cool, temperate and arctic zones of Asia, Europe, and North America.

Another random post...

Speaking about my  husband... I seldom write about him here so please allow me just this once...

On his birthday last year, I surprised him with an ATV quad bike tour of the countryside. It was a decision made on the eleventh-hour because at that time I was busy coordinating an international conference that ended just two days before his birthday. Although I saw him only in the evenings prior to and during the conference, he knew that I was up to something -- I'm always full of surprises -- and I could tell he was already looking forward to it.

I didn't drop too many hints though, I just told him that the surprise would involve dust, driving, and countryside. So on his birthday, we woke up bright and early to go to the site. When reached our destination, I could see him smile broadly, obviously pleased at the surprise treat  waiting for him- atv riding in the countryside!

It turned out to be a great day for the birthday boy and I. It was great getting away from the hustle-bustle of Phnom Penh and, with our French-Khmer guide Aka, we drove through remote villages. Maneuvering the quad bike through a challenging course was just awesome -- from a dry, rough terrain to a muddy, slippery one the next minute! Good thing the quad bike didn't break down as they are not exactly new. I'm glad he loved it. Now I am pressured to think of another birthday treat that would top this one! Any suggestions?

Rever de France

In 2004, my husband took his bicycle on a tour of Western Europe, alone, covering about 4,500miles. Beginning in his hometown in Lincolnshire, England, passing through south of France, over the Pyrenees into Spain, following the Camino de Santiago de Compostela on the northern part of Spain, and through Portugal and ending in Gibraltar. He kept a diary of his trip, and when he had access to internet, post it to his blog (http://www.hittheroadat.blogspot.com) dedicated for this alone. It took him more than four months to complete the trip. What an amazing feat, eh? 

So when I received the following postcard and showed it to him, he became nostalgic...

                                             Sent by Christiane
Postmarked Prioritaire 19 - 10 - 09 France

... and dreamed about doing another cycling trip one day. With me. Why not? Having seen the beauty and charm of rural France, he is also toying the idea of settling there when we have enough resources to purchase a piece of property there. From time to time he searches for properties around the southeastern area. Just because. :D

Christiane is married lives with her husband and two children in a town next to Avignon, one of the communes in the Département du Vaucluse. A département is an administrative division in France. There are about 100 French departments further divided into communes. One of these is the Département du Vaucluse, located in the beautiful southeast of France in the Provence region, which includes the communes of Avignon, Orange, Fontaine de Vaucluse, etc. (see postcard). These communes are bounded by the breath-taking mountains and spectacular sceneries.

And here is the stamp and cancellation used at the back of the postcard:

It's a part of an 8-set featuring the Images of France; the particular stamp above is under  the theme Classical Architecture, issued in May 2009.

I love the lady bug and flower stickers on the postcard - thanks for that personal touch, Christiane :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Nigerian stamps

In addition to the Nigerian postcard that I posted previously, here I am showing the stamps that were used:

The first two stamps were part of a special three-series issued by the Nigerian Postal Office in 2005 to commemorate the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)  held in Tunis, Tunisia. WSIS was held to gather information experts and worldwide leaders in one setting to understand the growing information society (as well as the ICTs - Information and Communication Technologies) and to formulate strategies to bridge the digital divide between the developed and developing countries. 

Having been involved in a rural ICT project here in Cambodia, I have attended, and took part in a panel discussion, a conference similar to this one. It's actually the Global Knowledge conference (held in Kuala Lumpur, 2007) and there thousands of ICT experts, researchers and development workers gathered to showcase how their respective projects have addressed the issue of digital divide in their countries and how  local communities react to these new technologies. The UNDP was there along with other big international organisations and promised assistance (financial or technical) to local, community-based representives, while researchers and development workers (like me)  have networked with others for project collaborations. It was such a big gathering, I tell you. But I digress.

The second stamp features one of Nigeria's best in the field of engineering - Professor AWOJOBI Ayodele. Here are some information about Prof. Awojobi that I lifted off the Nigerian Village Square site's tribute to him:

He was in his 30s when he became a professor of engineering at the University of Lagos (Unilag), the youngest ever then, after a First Class B.Sc. from University of London and PhD from Imperial College, London, at the age of 28!
His engineering wizardry saw him singlehandedly converting the driving wheel of a motor vehicle from one side to another when Nigeria changed her road driving laws from left-hand to right-hand. He named it AUTONOV I. Then went further to design AUTONOV II, a bi-directional automobile that can be moved forward and backward without turning it round. Awojobi’s vehicle had two steering, four gears and three seats and, we are told, remain on display in the Unilag Mechanical engineering workshop.
 But it is in his passion for and commitment to a better Nigeria that Awojobi towered above all. Like Tai Solarin, and Gani Fawehinmi – crusaders who gave their lives to the cause of a greater Nigeria and humanity as a whole, using all legitimate means (the law courts, protests on the streets) to demand for justice, human rights and good governance. And, as does happen to all those who want “to save the world”, Awojobi died in the process – in 1984 at age 47! Were he alive today, he would be 72.

For the complete write up, please follow this link.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

African beauty

I'm a happy postcard collector! I received another postcard from the African country of Nigeria -- a new country to boot! Woohoo!!

Below is the newest country in my postcard collection showing a beautiful Fulani maiden in her native costume and adorned with jewelry -- check out her nice beaded necklace. Now this is what I call a beauty - just look at her features! I love her smooth skin without a trace of a single pimple, blackhead or other kind of imperfections. I also like that what I think is a simple traditional tattoo on her face adds more to her appeal. What do you think?

Sent by Ahmed Abbas Maswoord
Postmarked  Lagos, Nigeria
14 December 2009

Most people frown on tattoos but in most tribes in Africa it is a symbol of beauty. What is beautiful, anyway? The definition of beauty varies from one culture to another, from East to West, North and South.

The Fulani are nomadic people from West Africa and are found in countries such as Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal. In Nigeria (where this postcard originated from) the Fulani tribes live in Northern Nigeria and are mostly Moslems. 

Thank you, Abbas, for this postcard. I will be posting the other one you sent me next time.

First day of use - Mailers Postmark Permit

Tired of seeing the usual boring machine-cancellations? 
Imagine having your very own, personalised postmark, wouldn't that be cool?

In February this year, a fellow postie Chris from the Wild Postcards blog (see my links at the side bar), received his very own Mailers Postmark Permit. It simply means he is allowed to cancel his own stamp (using his very own cancellation device - a rubber stamp he ordered from a private manufacturer) before mailing it. 

To commemorate its first day of use, he asked who among his online friends would love to receive a special postcard with his very own postmark. Of course, I had to raise my two hands to receive this awesome hand-cancel :) 

Here's the postcard, a black and white picture showing an ordinary-looking truss bridge:

Unfortunately there aren't any details about the bridge so pardon the lack of background info about it here. But it does look like one of those spooky bridges we see in horror movies, don't you agree?  I wonder if this bridge have any historical significance or something. Anyhoo, here's the valuable part showing the hand-cancellation:

As you can see, the first day of use was February 9, 2010 and Chris sent all postcards on that very day. How cool is that? I received the postcard in March and I so love it I want to have one now, too. Don't you?

Thank you very much, Chris. You're the man!
After I'm done with the zencore write up, I will go and check at the Cambodian Post Office if they issue a similar permit. I think it would fun to send mails, postcards and what-have-yous bearing my own mailers postmark :) :) :) On second thought though, I have a feeling that the staff at the Post Office won't have any idea what a mailers postmark permit is. Arrggh. I hope I am wrong.

Elegant impalas

Okay, I'm back to regular  blog posts from now on.
Thank you for bearing with my (tennis) fan-girl streaks.

What do we have here?

Sent by my good friend Fe
Postmarked 09 Oct 2009
Gaborone, Botswana

She's a beauty, isn't she? The impala, I mean.
The picture looks sooo National Geographic-esque... A shot of a graceful impala up close never fails to tug our hearts. Impalas are capable of leaping and bounding in order to avoid their predators in the African wildlife. They are fleet runners, who can leap a distance of about 10meters. No wonder we often see an image of a leaping impala as it typically jumps over anything in its path. That's really awesome. I wonder though if impalas do suffer from joint pains once in a while. I mean, they do a lot of running and leaping, don't they? Just kidding.

The bird sitting on top of the impala is called a red-billed oxpecker. What it does is it clambers on their hosts and search for ticks and blood-sucking insects and flies that infest their hides. The red-billed oxpeckers doesn't only do this "cleaning service" to impalas but also extends to rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes, and other game animals.   

I find it really awesome to see two species in one picture. This postcard, in my opinion, best exemplifies the great symbiotic --- give and take -- relationship of nature.

Now on to the stamp... 

The black-striped Hairtail butterfly, anthene amarah, is featured on this 5pula definitive stamp. It's part of the 14-set of butterfly stamps issued in 2007. 

Monday, 5 July 2010

I'm on cloud 9...

Yes, and who wouldn't be?

Rafael Nadal won his second Wimbledon Championship title beating the Czech giant Tomas Berdych in three straight sets. I so love Rafa even more -- for beating the guy who beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic! Wow, that's a mouthful... but hey, you know what I mean, right?

The finals match was a subdued affair but Rafa showed sheer genius in his strategy (okay Federer doesn't hold exclusive rights over this word, 'no?) and brilliance of his rallies and shots and grit to beat the cannon-ball serves of Berdych. Imagine, he didn't get broken at all. Not even once! 

Anyways, so when Rafa's win is inevitable, my husband rushed to get the corkscrew in the kitchen to pop the already waiting bottle of wine. In his rush, he didn't realise he picked up the box cutter instead! Oh, how we both laughed out loud :D

Although many of those who watched said this year's finals didn't measure up to the excitement of the 2008 finals but we will take that any day, anyway. Could it be that the finals match has gotten to Berdych so he wasn't as good as he had shown in the previous matches? Could be. The commentator remarked that Berdych tactics didn't work well against Rafa because Rafa was simply the best last night. Wow, this is quite a compliment coming from someone who was all-praises to Roger Federer at the beginning of the tournament! 

Congratulations to Rafa for a superb Wimbledon, and to other Rafa-fans out there who never gave up hope and never stopped believing :D "Thankyouberrymuch" .

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Vamos, Rafa!

My name is Sreisaat and I am a tennis fan.
For the past two weeks I've been losing sleep watching the Wimbledon's matches, especially Rafael Nadal's. A few weeks before the Wimbledon was the Roland Garros (French Open) tournament, and the Barcelona and Monaco Masters tournaments. You can imagine how many times I stayed up till the wee hours in front of the telly considering the time difference between Europe and Asia. Call me crazy if you must. I can't help it, I am a fan-girl. Rafa's tennis mojo is up to its optimum level and he is in fighting form in every single match. No wonder he won all the clay tournaments this year. So if you see me walking around Phnom Penh with black circle around my eyes, it wasn't my husband's doing, okay? It's because of lack of sleep from tennis. Say hi to me, instead. And don't just recommend the best eye cream for dark circles to me. Chat me up, ask me about tennis and Rafael Nadal as well. Tee-hee-hee.

So tonight it's going to be the much anticipated Wimbledon finals. Without Roger Federer. We certainly don't mind not having him around. All eyes will be on Rafael Nadal, the second seed and World Number One, and gunning for his second Wimbledon title, who will be playing against the first-time Czech Grand Slam finalist  Tomas Berdych. Will Berdych's cannonball serve and matching ground strokes match Nadal's brutal-and-far- from-being-sublime-style-of-tennis? I am excited to find out a few hours from now.

When asked about his chances of winning his second Wimbledon title, Nadal puts it with a touch of circumspect. I'm quoting the whole paragraph from the Wimbledon site:
"Tomas is a very aggressive player, very good serve, very good flat shots from the baseline. It's very difficult to stop him when he's playing well, and he's playing really well. It will be very difficult match for me." Then he smiled and added, "Hopefully for him, too."
Very-well said.
Vamos, Rafa! Good luck!
I'm going to watch you lift and bite that Wimbledon trophy again :D

Friday, 2 July 2010

Playful pandas

This postcard is cuteness overload!
Ed Liu from China sent me this cute postcard with an adorable panda aloft a tree and looking back at you with those big black eyes and fat cheeks!

Everyone adores the giant pandas - they are so cute and cuddly we all want them as pets. They are very playful and curious, especially when they're young. But did you know that they can bleat, roar, growl and honk? Yes, apparently, they do, just like their other bear relatives.

Scientists are not exactly sure how the pandas got it's black and white colour. One idea, according to the San Diego Zoo website, is that the broad blockings of contrasting color helps to camouflage the panda in the bamboo or treetops. In other words, looking for a panda or a panda cub up in the tree could be very difficult one has to use a binocular to spot one. 

The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family found only in China and it is among the world's most threatened species.  Habitat loss and illegal trade of wildlife are two of the factors that threaten the giant panda population.

According to the international conservation organisation WWF - World Wildlife Fund for Nature - they have counted only 1,600 giant pandas in the wilds in 2004. Researchers and conservationists at the WWF are making great strides in order to save these creatures from extinction. They go into the jungles for days on end, studying the panda's habitat and observing their behaviour to be able to come up with a practical strategies on how to save them.  Let's hope they don't run out of time... we certainly don't want to lose the gentle and playful pandas.

Sorry, folks. It's me, not you!

Well, guess what?

I was rummaging through my email-box and a particular email caught my eye. It was from a former colleague of mine, an American who, like me, has been here in Cambodia for 10years (she's probably here longer than I am). But anyways, she asked me if my husband and I would like to join her at the July 4th celebration at the US Embassy here. It is on this day that the US Embassy is opening its hallowed grounds to its citizens in Cambodia and locals alike in celebration of the occasion. I know that there'll be lots of American food, pies, hotdogs, barbecues from a charcoal-fed grill (no, not outdoor electric grill), and kegs and kegs of beer at stake there but I politely declined her invitation. This is the second time she's asked me and the second time I turned her invitation down.

And why, you ask? 
I don't like the security checks! *lol* Just kidding. It's not like I am hiding something or that we - my husband and I - are persons with dubious characters or backgrounds. The 4th of July celebration is a HUGE party where there are many kinds of people and I am not really a party-person. I certainly cannot stand certain types of people I am certain I would meet and socialise with at the party. 

Thank you very much, A, for the thought, but we'll pass on this one. We'll have dinner party at our house, or yours, next time. And yes, I'll whip up my carrot cake for dessert :D

The Great Wall of China

The postcard below was sent to me in exchange for an Angkor Wat postcard. The sender contacted me directly as she was collecting UNESCO Heritage Sites postcards, to which I agreed.

Sent by Yan
Postmarked 13 Oct, 2009

This magnificent World Heritage Site, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was constructed two thousand of years ago by Qin Shi Huangdi during the Qin Dynasty, that's around 221-206 BC. The construction continued up to the Ming Dynasty, from 1368-1644, when the wall became the world's largest military structure. After a tedious but most comprehensive archaeological survey using the most advanced technologies there is, it was found out that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, spans 8,851.5kms (5,500miles).

The Great Wall, I learned, is not actually a continuous wall but a collection of small walls that often follow the crest of hills on the southern edge of the Mongolian plains. Unlike the Taj Mahal that was built out of love and romance, the Great Wall's raison d'ê·tre was purely a historical inevitability, for the defence and protection of the Emperor's territories.  I can only imagine the millions of Chinese labourers (and the countless others who died during its construction) who built the Wall with their  bare hands.

The Great Wall has always been the major attraction in China. When the weather is clear, the view is magnificent, as you can see in the postcard. I heard other travelers say though that the view is more stunning during the winter. Summer or winter, the wall is very postcard-pretty, don't you agree? I can almost imagine the picture of the Great Wall on the postcard could be use as picture for promotional mugs.  Urban legend has it that the Great Wall can be seen from the moon. Well, friends, it is not true, what a shame.

Someday, I will see it for myself. For now, I have the postcard to imagine how massive and impressive that wall is.

Okay, stamps...

Above right, is a part of the Folk Painted Sculptures set issued in 1996. The 4-set stamps, issued in 1998, are based on the works of three generations of masters of "clay figure Zhang", each depicting exquisite workmanship and unique artistic features of the painted sculpture. This one features "Returning from Fishing" by Zhang Yuting.

The next two stamps are from the Seafloor World - Coral Reef Ornamental Fish. The set is composed of eight kinds of ornamental fishes that are found only in the South China Sea - colourful, striped, like fairies and butterflies.

Images by Freepik