Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Postcard from a long, lost friend

I had the most pleasant shock (again, promise!) yesterday when I saw a postcard, from among the lot I collected from the Post Office yesterday, bearing a familiar handwriting. I could not believe it but a dear old friend from university, who I haven't seen in 16 years, has somehow gotten hold of my address from a friend of a friend and sent me a postcard! Unbelievable! Her opening words here... Eto, buhay na buhay pa ko! Here I am, still alive and kicking! *lol*

My friend is now married to an American and has been living in the state of North Carolina since last year. She sent me a link to her newly-created blog where she detailed her first 365 days in the US. Her posts were honest and candid, funny and irreverent,  just like she is in person.  I lol-ed at her husband's hilarious joke about a special health plan just as she was about to apply for her health insurance in nc. It's an inside (and a personal) joke so I can't really divulge the rest of the details.

Placed in service in 1892, this 156-foot black and white horizontal-striped Bodie Island Lighthouse receives thousands of visitors every year. 
My friend and her husband traveled to this place for several hours by car and stayed with their friends overnight. They visited this brick lighthouse and marveled at how well-maintained the lighthouse and the environs are. Although the tower is not open for climbing, there is a visitor centre, a gift shop, and a mini-museum where exhibits that tell about the history of the lighthouse are displayed at the former keeper's quarters at the bottom floor.
The stamp used was a 94-cent definitive stamp for international airmail featuring a photograph of Trunk Bay, St. Johns, in the US Virgin Islands. It is classified under the Scenic American Landscapes series. Photographed by George H. Huey, of Prescott, Arizona.  

Snik Suid-Afrika!

Baie dankie vir die poskaarte! Thank you for the postcards!
I was so giddy at the sight waiting for me at the Post Office and I was giggling like a teenager. I am sorry, I couldn't help it. Postcards, or any mails for that matter, really bring joy to my day. 

Take for example this postcard from my Keri. It is quite unexpected. She and I have been friends since 1998 although we haven't seen each other yet. After our paths crossed through email, we became pen pals, exchanging letters, greeting cards and pictures for years. We lost contact in the mid-2000 when she was pursuing her undergraduate degree and I was busy with my career. Then, out of the blue, I found her by just following blog links one day. Isn't it great?

Keri wrote: When I saw this postcard, I thought of you! How sweet of her.
Looking closely at the picture of the Table Mountain (upper middle photo), I can, sort of, see (or imagine) where she lives :) She once told me that her apartment is on the left side of the mountain, just around the corner and that they are looking at the mountain short-side on. Being on the third floor of the building she has a fantastic view of the mountain from her bedroom window. Now that is priceless - waking up in the morning to see the Table Mountain standing majestically. 

The other views on the postcard are of, clockwise from top left, Namaqualand (it is up the west side of the country and despite its semi-desert environment, apparently  local and foreign tourists flock there during springtime for its amazing wild spring flowers), the lion, the beautiful sunset of Blyde Canyon, and the city of Cape Town. She herself has never been to Namaqualand and plans to go there in a place called Little Namaqualand where Richterslveld, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located.  They will camp there and go hiking with friends. I would love to go hiking there, too. It must be great to see this amazing landscape by way of trekking/hiking and interacting with the locals. Some people I know raise their eyebrows at me for being enthusiastic in activities such as this. Well, why not? Hiking does a lot of wonders to a person's well being. What many of these people don't know is that hiking can be used as alternative to walking or running on a treadmill. Hiking also helps reduce stress, burns fat thereby contributing to weight loss, and prevents heart ailments. I can say hiking is one of the best fat burners in my list! Oh dear me, but I digress now. I got carried away again. 

Moving on to the stamp.... It is a commemorative stamp marking the FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa in June this year.

The stamp above is part of the first set (of the two sets) issued by SAPO, consisting of six self-adhesive round-shaped stamps. It features the official logo, the jabulani (the official match ball), and the 18-carat gold FIFA World Cup trophy. SA is probably the only country in the African region to issue its own World Cup stamps.

Dankie vir die pragtige poskaart, Keri. Die stempel is net so awesome, ook.
Many, many thanks for the lovely postcard, Keri. The stamp is equally awesome, too.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The then-and-now picture

Still no postcard update today. Spent a huge amount of time preparing documents to finish my task for this week. I recently snagged a part-time consultancy work which allows me to work at home and go to office only when needed. Great, huh? No worries about traffic jams, what to wear, and many others. I work right in the comforts of my home. 

Anyways, after I've done my tasks I relaxed for a bit and visited blogs. I came to a close friend's blog and I found one of her posts to be so funny and yet so true that I, well, my husband and I could relate absolutely! She showed a photo of  her and her husband taken about 4 years ago when their son was about a year old and another picturing showing them again, but this time the picture was taken only a few days ago. They looked so cute and fresh-faced and still wet in the ears (hahaha) then, and now, she said, they're looking more like adults and more experienced in life. Nothing major has changed, I think, and I say this in a positive way. If I may say so, they both still look good, and my, they really look good together. I wish I could say the same for me and my husband! hihihihi. And look at the little boy who says he no longer is a little boy. He's grown to be a copy of Dad or Mom? Whichever, that little big boy inherited great genes from his parents and is definitely going to be a heart-breaker when he grows older!  I lol-ed at my friend's husband's reply when one of their friends commented about him getting, errr, beefy. My husband could very well relate. His belly paunch is just hard to not notice and he, too, would probably want to know a diet pill that works. And I mean, really work, because, sometimes, even the most ardent weight-watcher  like my husband could really mess up several months of diet regimen and would just wish for a faster and easier way to achieve a weight-loss goal. 

Oh, I miss you, guys. I am praying continuously that the outcomes are positive and everything will be alright so that you can come back to PP already :) 

Sorry about this non postcard-related post. I don't have postcards yet and I am so eager to visit the Post Office already. So please bear with me. .


Monday, 20 September 2010

Some random thoughts...

Oh my, weekend has come and gone away without me visiting the Post Office. The car is still under repair, and I didn't want to bug my husband, hence, no postie update yesterday and today. So let me just share these  mini-updates. I know this is all about me, which you might find boring or you don't have the time, but please, indulge me.

I have shamelessly mentioned here many times before about my quest to lose weight. Well, three months on and I already lost 7kgs - that's more than 10lbs!!! I didn't really follow any particular weight loss diets. I merely stayed away from unfriendly carbohydrates and sinful sweets, packed my meals with lots of vegetables, made sure I have breakfast, and took on the chore of walking my dogs two times a day. Three months after and I'm lighter and I feel healthier. The last time I checked is that with my current weight, I am just a few points away from a healthy BMIi! Awesome. All I have to do is continue what I am doing now and hopefully before 2010 ends, I'll finally achieve my goal of a healthy BMI..

Okay, so changing the topic to... my mini-contest. Previously, I posted a maxi-card from Italy (pic, right) and asked readers to identify the countries that the emblem represent. I am happy to say that two readers have answered correctly - Sheila, from A Postcard A Day; and Abishek Duggal, from Hawaii - and I will be sending a postcard to them this weekend, as I had promised. The correct answers are, in no particular order, Italy, Wales, England, Ireland, France, and Scotland. I'd like to shout out to Abishek Duggal: please email me as soon as you can. My message to you bounced back so please get in touch.

In addition, I also would like to thank my dear friend, Ana, of My World of Postcards, for offering to send my younger sister a football-FDC for her birthday. I am sure she'd absolutely go bonkers when she receives it. Многу ти благодарам, драг пријател. Сте биле многу прекрасни со мене.

Have a happy Monday, everyone. May we have a fruitful and happy week ahead of us.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

AT_59399: Frohnleiten, Austria

It's Saturday, and, even though I woke up earlier than usual, I had a smile on my face. No groaning, no lingering on the bed. Just because. It's the weekend after all :)

No errands done today yet as my husband is fixing the car -- something with the motor-starter he said. I don't know. So while I wait for him to get the car fixed, I decided to do a bit of blogging while I'm doing the laundry =)

Today's postcard comes from the beautiful town of Frohnleiten in Austria, where the sender, Anneliese, lives.

Frohnleiten, the Pearl of the Mur valley, a beautiful Austrian city with a population of just over 6,000.
Anneliese said Frohnleiten is a small but beautiful city with amazing landscapes, and very popular for its beautiful flowers come summertime. People flock to this small town just to be awed by the spectacular blooms and other plants found there. 

The postcard features the facade of the old buildings in the beautifully-designed main square and sits at the edge of the Mur river bank and creating a stunning silhouette. The best view can be seen from the opposite side -- in the same place where the photographer was.  Probably the fastest way to cross the river is to swim to other side -- oh my, that's one exercise that could easily land on my top fat burners list. Something I'm willing to try, if only I am good in swimming. But I'm just kidding you know. There are probably boats to ferry people to the other side, or, a bridge connecting these two. 

And here are the stamps used:  are two definitives under the fauna category: frog which is a part of the two-sets issued in February 2008, and an otter which is part of the two-set issued in January 2010. Both stamps are self-adhesive.


Thanks, Anneliese. 

Friday, 17 September 2010

Khmer Classical Dance: Robaim Tep Monorom

I seldom feature FDCs here so I'm making this FDC the star of the day:


It shows one of the classical Khmer dances, called robaim Tep Monorom, and is one of the most popular dances in the Khmer court dance repertoire. The dance depicts the gods and goddesses, dressed elegantly in silk phamoung (a traditional Khmer pants for men) and sampot (traidtional skirt for women) and adorned with golden headdresses, dancing gloriously.

The origins of Khmer classical dances could be traced back to the Indian court dances, to the mystical apsaras of Hindu mythology. Apsaras are, in Buddhist and Hindu cultures, angels who are born to dance for the gods. The dances are usually performed in a slow but graceful moves. I have seen dances performed in weddings, big social gatherings but I want to see it on stage, a real stage, and a big production!

In the olden times, the women performed all the roles in the dances, a tradition that is still being held up to now, except for the role of monkey and demons (in Ramayana, for example), which are now given to men. If you look at the stamps, it shows two women, and you could tell them apart - which one is playing the female role from the one playing the male role just by looking at their clothing. Which is good I suppose because there is no need for these female dancers to resort to taking any muscle building supplement in order to achieve the "right look and build" for the role of a male character. Apart from the costumes, the headdresses, masks, and especially the movements identify each of the dance's characters.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Isle of Man: Isle of Contrasts

Yes, I recently received a postcard from the great Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency that lies in the Irish sea between the United Kingdom and Ireland. It simply means that, although it has its own government, it is still part of the UK (called Crown Dependency).


Sent by James Parrish
Postmarked 8 July 2010

Isle of Man is an island with oh-so-breath-taking-scenery and gorgeous, gorgeous beaches. It's capital is Douglas, and it is on the east coast of the island. Legend has it that the Isle of Man got its name from a warlock called Manannan. In year 447AD St. Patrick visited the island and wanted to break the spell from the warlock. However, he was not certain what to do, and the warlock, sensing his indecision, taunted him saying, "whichever way you throw me, I stand". St. Patrick then turned him into a three-legged symbol and that became what is now the island's emblem. 

 For this tiny island, it is unbelievably beautiful, and living there, according to James, is having the best of both worlds. Medieval castles, ancient burial sites, centuries-old fortresses, Victorian railways and many other old-world landscapes co-exist with the modern ways of life. Do you know that the Isle of Man holds the annual motorbike races attracting hundreds and thousands of tourists? My, that must be the time when the island sinks a bit under the weight of these visitors?

Anyways, what surprises me even more was when I was told that there are a lot of Filipinos working in the nursing and care-giving fields there. Truly, Filipinos are everywhere, and what a fantastic job they are doing. James asked me whether they are graduates from a medical assistant school. It's possible, I told him. We have a lot of medical and nursing schools that churn out thousands of graduates every year.


The stamps used are definitely my favourite. It is probably from a set of definitives that show the diverse lifestyle and cultural heritage of the Isle of Man. According to the Isle of Man Post Office site, the images selected are "slice of life" photographs of real people who live and work on the island.

Thanks very much, James. Surely, this postcard has a special place in my album. 

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Ecco perché amo gli Italiani...

Translation: Here's why I love the Italians...

More than a year ago today, I received an email from an Italian girl who wanted to swap postcards with me. She was, at that time, completing her UNESCO World Heritage Sites collection. She wrote me a very nice letter - the kind that makes you think she's a really, really nice girl -- and, of course,  I gladly accommodated her request. I sent her an Angkor Wat postcard that she liked very much. Months later, her younger sister contacted me, this time, asking if I would swap covers the second time. Turns out the sisters are operating like a tag team: the older sister collects postcards while the younger one collects stamps. Nice, eh? Since the first arrangement   with her sister turned out fine, I sent her not one but two FDCs with two postcards in each for her older sister. 

Imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, I received an envelope containing a dozen of maxi-cards months later!!! I almost did cartwheels right there and then at the Post Office but I had to restrain myself as I realised that 1) I was in a public place, and, 2) it would be very disturbing to see a 30-something year old woman upside-down. Okay, I admit, I'm too old to do cartwheels hihihi.

One of my favourites amongst the lot was this:


Neat-o!! I am not a fan of rugby -- I could never understand that sport -- but I love the maxi card and the stamp. Did you see the awesome first day postmark? Tee-hee-hee, I'm gloating, I know :P

I'm feeling a little bit generous right now - after all, I can only pay forward the generosity bestowed on me by the two belle ragazze Italiane - so I'm going to have a small contest here. My question is :can you identify which countries the emblems (found on the maxi card) represent?  If anyone guesses correctly, I'll send you a postcard. The first two to answer correctly will receive a postcard so hurry and leave me a message in this post' comments section only  :)

Anyways, I was planning to give this to my sports-minded sister as a present for her birthday (this month) but held back because she mentioned about wanting a football gift or something related to football for her birthday. Now before you raise your eyebrow, my sister, who is also a stamp collector, was a ballplayer back during her college days. She was in her school's varsity basketball team, and after that, she got hooked into soccer, er, that's football to others. I wonder if somebody out there has any football-related postcard or stamp? Please leave me a message here if you have or know of a postcard/stamp and is willing to swap with me. I'm sure my sister would be very happy to add it to her collection :)


Friday, 10 September 2010

Korean kuteness

If Korean pop is known as K-Pop, then I am naming this postcard below as K-Postcard :) This is one of the many postcards that were handed down to me by a dear friend:


Isn't it  cute?

The postcard was sent by a university-bound girl named Sunyeong who also happens to speak a bit of the German language. The drawing on the postcard is a very typical Korean neighbourhood as I've seen it also on television. The houses are lovely, don't you agree with me?

When you hear the word "Korea", what's the first thing that comes to your mind?
For me, images of red-hot kimchi and Samsung come first ... then followed the North and South divide, actor Cha Im Pyo, and Arirang and KBS channels :)

Korea is a country that intrigued me so much -- it is the kind of foreign country that I read about a lot and seen a lot on the television. From being a country devastated by years of war, South Korea rose to become today's economic superpower while still holding on to their traditions and culture. Oh, and the food, of course - don't get me started. From time to time I get to taste a bit of Korea here in Phnom Penh as there are a number of Korean restaurants offering traditional Korean food here in Phnom Penh. Oh how I would love to go there someday. 

The stamps used are both definitive stamps - one, of course, showing the flag of South Korea and the other featuring a pair of whistling swan.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

NO_25224: The Sami People of Norway

In a few hours today, one of my best friends' baby girl will be welcomed to the Christian world.
The baptism rites will be held in a church in far, far Drammen, a beautiful city about 40kms away from the capital of Norway, Oslo. Months ago before the baby's birth, my friend sent out unique baby shower invitations to all her friends in Norway and abroad, that included me here in Phnom Penh. How I wish I was there, and even wishing more today to witness the baptism and share in the joyous celebration. But, as fate would have it, I can only see them via webcam later today. That's better than nothing at all.

To mark this important milestone and in celebration of her roots (baby is half Filipina-half Norwegian), I am featuring this postcard from Norway sent to me by wonderful woman named Britt:

One of my favourite postcard themes - traditional costumes. According to Britt, gákti is the traditional costume of the Sami people, also known as the reindeer people. Don't you just love the colours and the patterns of the fabric? The top usually has a high collar, with embroidered pewter or silver details. One can tell the whether a person is married or single, or where he/she is from just by looking at the colours, patterns, and jewelry of the wearer. Also, there are different gákti for men and women; the men's gákti have a shorter "skirt" than women's. Traditionally, gáktis are made from reindeer leather but nowadays it is more common to use cotton, wool, or silk. 

According to the Wiki, the Sami people are one of the indigenous people of the northern Europe inhabiting Sapmi, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The Sami people's best known livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer-herding. 

Okay, let's go the stamp:





It's a single stamp issued on June 2010 commemorating the Molde Jazz Festival.


Friday, 3 September 2010

Cellojaren by J. Bernlef

The postcard below shows the cover of the book of a multi-awarded and highly-regarded Dutch poet named J. Bernlef (real name Hendrik Jan Marsman):
  

The beauty of the human body has always been a source of inspiration. But taking pictures which are artsy (like the one above) and not smutty requires more than a simple push of the camera button. I could not help but feel a bit like a peeping Tom while looking at the postcard. The woman is probably enjoying sunbathing in the privacy of her own backyard. While I am not against this kind of photography, it will take me a lot of dieting, or probably try the HCG diet Austin that's getting good reviews recently, to be able to achieve the body that's worth flaunting. But I digress.

Cellojaren (Cello Years), published in 1996 is a collection of short stories. Very little information is available over the Internet about this particular book.

He published his first collection of poems, Kokkels(Cockles, 1960). J. Bernlef is one of the several pen names used by Hendrik Jan Marsman. He has authored about 25 volumes of poetry, fiction, and essays, translated work from favourite contemporaries and predecessors, and was a recipient of various awards, including the prestigious P.C. Hooft Poetry Prize. In all of his work, writer Arie Staal, of the Eastern Michigan University, says:
"... Bernlef presents the reader with a somewhat retrospective look at life and the human struggle for permanence in an uncooperative existences. These are moments, Bernleft, states, when reason forsakes us and we are left gaping."

According to an article written by Mirjam Van Hengel (The Netherlands - Poetry International Web) :
"Bernlef is an avid onlooker; his poems abound in concrete images and scenes from daily life; but he often uses words like 'vanish', 'forget' and 'absence'. Man's perception is poor, and so is his memory. The poet, who, in detached wonder, tries to give form to what happens before his yes, will always be wavering on the  borderline between what is and what is not. What is, he cannot see any longer; what is not, he cannot yet see."
The stamp used was a part of the 5-set booklet called The Netherlands as seen by Artists. The artist featured on this stamp is Amalia Pica from Argentina who created Toc Toc, referring to the traditional clogs of the Netherlands.

To my surprise there's an extra postmark from the Khmer Post Office -- commemorating the 55th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Thailand.



Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Rafa-talk!

Okay,  here I am again with tennis-talk, i.e., Rafael Nadal talk. Postcards will be featured a little later.

As you already  know, I am a big Rafa fan. The US Open has just started in the Big Apple, and, being a Rafa-fan, I couldn't be more excited! He is the top-seed in the tournament with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and *gasp* Robin Soderling, completing the top five seeds. The rest of the top ten are Nikolay Davidenko, Tomas Berdych, Fernando Velasco, Andy Roddick, and David Ferrer. The draw, however, puts Rafa and Roger on the opposite sides and could potentially meet in the finals - now that would be epic!  On the top draw with Rafa is Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, David Ferrer and Alexandr Dolgopolov scares me! However, if you could recall the 2009 Australian Open where Rafa "marathoned" his matches and Roger merely waltzed through his, it actually gave Rafa the utmost advantage he needed to beat Roger in the finals! I hope this pattern will be replicated in the USO. We'll see.

Now, it seems that most of Rafa's matches are during the evenings, NY time. It's a bit advantageous on my part as it is early mornings here on my side of the planet. I wake up early anyway to prepare my husband's breakfast. The catch is that the USO is not broadcast in any of the cable channels and, to my horror, there is only one live streaming channel that is accessible in my location, for free. The streaming quality decreases after 7am. Like right now, I was up at 6am watching Velasco's match against the Italian Fognini, the streaming was smooth and the sound was perfect. By 7.30am, it has gone to worse. If only I have a Slingbox, this shouldn't be a problem. I should include it in my wishlist for Christmas - oh, Santa dearest, I'm definitely going to be nicer in the coming months :) And while Christmas is more than three months away, finding a quality live streaming to watch Rafa's games is a major, major problem for me!
 
Images by Freepik