Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday Stamps oo6: Customized stamps

 


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In today’s Internet age, everything can be done online. Including stamps. It’s awesome to make and use your own stamps, isn’t it? I received my first custom postage stamp from a postcard that was sent to me from Germany:

 

 



 

 

Love the rocking-horse! I have a similar one when I was little back in the Philippines. The square with black and white pixels is called a qr code, if I am not mistaken.

What a great idea, especially for someone who loves adding personal touches to everything! This kind of service or feature has become popular in Europe and North America. And why not? It is fast and easy to do – you just select your photograph of choice and upload to any sites that offer customizations, edit/customize, pay online, and then print. In a matter of minutes – you have a stamp similar to the one above! If only this particular service is available here in Phnom Penh, I’d probably avail of this just because. I remember having to turn away one particular stamp collector looking for a Cambodian cigar on stamps. If you ask me, there’s one postal service that I’d really, really want to use – it’s the mailer’s postmark permit!



How cool is that? I think the hand-cancellation gives it more value. Don’t you think so, too?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Weekend discoveries


Saturday sunshine again but becoming hotter and hotter as the day goes on! We already are in the 30s – whew!
We had nothing to do this morning – the visit to the Post Office was postponed till tomorrow– so we’re just chilling out in the garden and enjoying the sun. While my husband was watering the plants, I was merrily gushing at our bell pepper and chilli plants – all bearing fruits ready for picking!

 





 


I know, the vegetables aren’t that much… but I could not help but dream big. If only we have a bigger space, or better yet, a backyard to plant… Imagine how much vegetables we could grow, how much Healthy Food gifts we could get right from our own backyard?

While my husband and I were discussing about how we could utilize our balcony garden efficiently, my husband spotted this lizard hiding amongst the bush… it looked like a chameleon and blended very well in the foliage because we didn’t notice it right away. We have seen this freeloader darting across the garden but this is the first time we’ve seen it this close.


I’m not sure if this is a chameleon, or a member of the iguana family. However, I was quite surprised that a reptile like this can be found in urban areas, i.e., in Phnom Penh.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Postcard Perfect 001: The twilight hour over Sparks Lake


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Hooray for this week’s first entry to Postcard Perfect Meme. This is a brain-child of the ever-energetic Willa of The Blogging Traveller. I am so amazed at the amount of energy she has every single day. She has boys and a house to look after and a job on top of her blogging activities. I salute you, MommyWilla.

When she invited me to join this new meme, of course I said yes right away! And this… is my first entry, so please enjoy… This is one of the most stunning sunsets on a postcard that I have ever received:

 


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Postmarked 22 Aug 2008


Sent by Adam, who by now is traveling around the world! 

I took a quick visit to Manong Gugel to know more about the Sparks Lake in Central Oregon. Turns out, the Sparks Lake is a popular and favourite outdoor destinations of most Americans. It is quiet with  beautiful natural scenery ideal for nature lovers and those who love camping and hiking. Fly-fishing is also allowed in Sparks Lake that boasts of trout. The  spectacular lake, formed about 10,000 years ago from the lava that came from Mt. Bachelor’s eruption, provides a pleasant respite to hikers and campers. The lake is generally shallow so it’s perfect for toe-dipping! According to geologists, the Sparks Lake is now near the end of its life cycle as it is slowly draining and turning into a marsh. Too bad, I hope it won’t happen too soon.

The postcard above is one of those I inherited from  my friend Ilona who is also a Postcrosser. Sadly, she and her family moved back to their native Germany after nearly 20years of expat-life. She handed down to me all of her postcards collection which, of course, I accepted with gratefulness.

Vielen Dank, mein lieber Freund. Ich vermisse unseren Kaffee und Gespräche.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Oooopsie!


This afternoon my Cambodian friend gave me a surprise visit. She came over to the house, around 4pm, bringing along a bagful of green mangoes! A bagful – and newly-picked from their orchard in Kien Svay. Now, what am I going to do with all of that when there’s only my husband and I? My husband told me to make green-mango shake and some mango salad this week. Check – problem solved!

Anyways, she was driving their family car, a Mistubishi Montero. I invited her to have a cup of tea with me in the house and to my delight, she accepted the offer.  She was trying to park the humungous car when we suddenly heard a grating noise from behind. We have a narrow garage but wide enough for her Montero to park in. But the garage has a metal gate and although it was wide open for my friend to reverse slowly she still hit the gate. The side of her car scraped against the garage door. My landlady turned pale, my friend even paler. Oooopsie.

It was a scary moment there but I felt I had to say something… but what was I going to say? *lol*



In the end, I found myself promising sheepishly to our landlady that we’ll take care of the damage. After all, if it wasn’t for me, my friend wouldn’t hit the metal gate, and her Montero would still be scrape-free. Good thing  garage door parts are easily found everywhere in the Penh and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Totally unrelated to postcards and stamps post….


… but I just want to share anyway.



My younger sister has just returned to the Philippines after a one year assignment with the Voluntary Services Organisation. For 13 months, she worked with the Lukore Farmer’s Cooperative in Mombasa, Kenya. For the whole duration of her assignment, she lived in the local community, spoke the local language, ate local food, drank local beer, and… get ready for this -  wore her hair like local women do!


 

 

She was really interested on having her hair done like the local women’s, and one Saturday when she has nothing to do, she walked in to a local beauty salon to complete her African experience. Some of her co-volunteers actually warned her that corn-braiding is a painful experience but she didn’t feel any pain at all. Little did she know that one of the most unforgettable African experiences she has would happen a day after her visit to the local salon.



Shampooing (or even wetting the hair), the local beautician told her, is a no-no when you have a braided hairstyle. But she did anyway.

   The shampoo wasn’t rinsed off completely, and it became flakes when it dried. These flakes plus the dust, combined with oil in her hair, made her scalp flaky. Eeeeeew! The nights were very uncomfortable she was crying – her scalp was extremely itchy! Corn-rows are supposed to be worn for a long time, but my sister had hers for only 4 days! *lol* The itching was really unbearable. After her braids were undone, this is how she looked like:

Her son was so surprised to see his mum on the webcam looking like this – with “big-big” hair like a witch’s! He was worried his mum has suddenly gotten “tambok” (fat).



It was hysterical – my own mother laughed so hard tears came running down her face when she saw her on webcam, too. My sister’s hair obviously made her face look bigger than it really is. And, of course, my brothers were teasing here. The taunts range from her big hair, to her big face, anything big and went on to ask questions like, are diet pills safe there in Mombasa and if so she better have some pronto. Otherwise, they teased her, her son wouldn’t go near her at all.

My sister said it was fun and a good learning experience for her… and one good effect of her corn-row hairstyle was the compliments she received from the elder women in the community. I think braided or having a corn-row hairstyle is cool. I, myself, would love to have my hair done like that if only I could find one in Phnom Penh who knows how to do so. Summer is here and this is the hairstyle I want to have to beat the heat.  How about you?

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sunday Stamps 005: The Lady of Maine

 

 

 


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Apart from Queen Elizabeth, I do not have any other stamps bearing the images of female world leaders, stateswomen and others. Sad that there are only a few of them women leaders who get featured on stamps.

I was really determined to find in my collection and what a great surprise – I found this:


I did a bit of research and I found out that Hillary Clinton wasn’t actually the first woman from a major political party to run for President – it was actually Margaret Chase Smith. She was also the first woman to have served in both houses of the Congress.

Senator Smith came from humble beginnings, born in Skowhegan, Maine,  and was thrown into politics after her husband, who was a congressman, suffered from a heart attack.  During her days in the Congress, she developed a strong interest in military issues that led her to secure a seat on the House Naval Affairs Committee. She was known to successfully lobbied for the women’s permanent status in the military. 

Though Senator Smith was a staunch anti-communist, she condemned the methods used by Senator Joseph McCarthy in purging communists inside the US government and elsewhere (it was then known as McCarthyism). While most of the women in her time were probably worried about aging and age spots removal, Senator Smith delivered the “Declaration of Conscience” speech that  exposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s excessive anti-communist crusade. After her terms as a Senator, she continued to be busy by being a lecturer in different US colleges and universities. In 1989, then President George W. Bush awarded her the highest civilian honor in the US – the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What a feat for a diminutive woman. More about her personal life and brilliant political career can be easily found on the Internet.



Honestly, I am not familiar with US politics and politicians but a lady senator on a stamp is all worth spending time with Mr. Gugel. We need more women leaders like Senator Smith. Go, go, women power! *lol*

Saturday 9: Gimme Three Steps


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1. Has anyone every got angry at you for flirting with their partner or date?
No, flirting is not my game.



2. What is your favourite movie line or speech? (Set the scene so we appreciate the context.)`
Okay, this line is from the movie Zombieland, a hysterical zombie-comedy movie set in the 21st century when zombies have taken over America. The main character, named Columbus (after his hometown in Ohio), a very shy university student in Texas who survived by making up and following his 30rules. In the movie, Columbus narrates them all. The first rule in Zombieland, according to Columbus:

The first rule of Zombieland: Cardio. When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go for obvious reasons… the fatties.

Ouch. Somebody please pass me the best weight loss pills pronto! Otherwise, I don’t stand a chance against these zombies should it happen in real life! *lol*
 
3. What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?

Being able to salvage most of my old postcards and stamps collection after a series of typhoons and strong monsoon rains that hit my province in the Philippines.

4. What do you try to stay away from?
Credit cards and unnecessary purchases.



5. What it is too late for?
Regrets.



6. If you could write three newspaper headlines, which would come true, what would they be?
All I could this of at the moment is this: Post Office in Cambodia to implement standard postage rates for domestic and international mails.

7. When was the last time you apologised to someone?
It is difficult to apologise to someone, isn’t it? But I make an effort to do so when the situation calls for it.

8. If you were to find out now that you would very well known after you die, what do you think it might be for?
Just for being a good person, that’s all.



9. Are you easily angered or able to handle every situation calmly?
I try my hardest to keep my cool at all times but it is very impossible to do so, especially when I’m hungry. I easily get angry and vent on anyone who crosses my path :P Wait, is that what PMS is about? :D

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bali, Indonesia







I have always been fascinated by Indonesian culture since I was in grade school. I was especially drawn to the touristic town of Bali… where life in charming villages is slow  but prosperous; where active volcanoes are tucked amidst the lush green ricelands and the beaches are among the best in the world.


















Who wouldn’t be fascinated by the sight of pretty Indonesian women garbed in colourful traditional clothes,  perilously balancing on their heads a basketful of fruits for offerings as they troop Purah Besakih? Located at the foot of the mighty Mount Agung, Purak Besakih is one of the most important Hindu temples in Bali, a complex if you like with puras or temples scattered all over the place.








   Or, the highly intense kecak, a kind of monkey dance performed only by males and is most recognisable through the chak-chak chants they sing while sitting around a fire?

The Balinese culture and people interest me tremendously. In one of the shows at the National Geographic Channel, they featured the Balinese cycle of life. It showed how the different stages of life is celebrated with oh-so-elaborate ceremonies and rituals. What caught my attention was how funeral ceremonies and rituals are being strictly observed. Most notably, the cremation has the most spectacular, colourful and unbelievably long and noisy event. Talking about sending someone to the other world with a big bang! Imagine what kind of funeral planning that transpires within family members and community folks to ensure  that the  elaborate rituals and ceremonies are conducted worthy of a traditional Balinese burial?














Ooops, I got carried away again. All I wanted today is to post these two postcards from Indonesia that I saw tucked in one of my notebooks. I remember receiving this last year – so my apologies to the sender, Nina, for not posting them right away. I promise each postcard will have its own post in the coming weeks.





Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Postcard-perfect!

 


I just want to share this cute story about me and my doggie Joe.
Last Saturday we organised a BBQ lunch for friends here in Phnom Penh. There was no particular reason -  it’s one of those “just because” kind of things we thought of doing for the new year. Isn’t it nice to have friends to come to over to your house “just because”? When food and wine are at stake, it is never difficult to make friends come over! *lol*



Seriously, my husband and I wanted to do this because we’ve already been invited to our friends’ houses many times and we felt that it is about time we do it at home. Of course we had to tidy the house a little bit, changed our curtains and checked our faulty pendant lighting fixtures. Then I remembered an incident that happened before the New Year. My husband doesn’t speak the Khmer language while mine’s a bit rusty, so every time we need something from the shops that we don’t know in the Khmer language, we take photos of these items. That time, we took a picture of the broken light bulbs. In order to do that, my  husband climbed while I supported the ladder. For some reason, my dog Joe, followed behind me and the next thing I know he was standing on his hind legs and stretched front legs and paws to support me.

This is how we looked like; thanks to my husband’s quick thinking, we have this photo to show friends what a mighty great dog our Joe is:


What a sweet-sweet Joe. This is a great photo that could be used as a  greeting card or something, don’t you think so, too?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday Stamps 004: Hungry for Love, Hungry for Food

 

 



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I had a bit of a travel emergency earlier this week so pardon the lack of posts (again).
I’m glad I came back on time for Sunday Stamps. This week’s theme is “any stamp you wish”. Easy, you say, but it was difficult to choose for me because I have a lot of favourites that I wish to feature right away. Since Valentine’s day is just a day away, I thought of featuring something that is an important part of Valentine’s Day, and other special celebrations…  and that is… food!

The stamp below features the scrumptious no caloeira a tempura, unmistakably a Japanese cuisine. I hope my translation is correct – otherwise, please correct me – it means low-calorie tempura.


   
It is one of the seven stamps and souvenir sheets issued by the Portuguese Postal Office in 2009. The series is called Sabores da Lusofonia – which means “Flavours of Lusophony”. I didn’t actually know what Lusofonia or “Lusophony” means but it sure does look delicious!

Sabor in the Bisaya-Hiligaynon dialect in the south-central Philippines (where I come from) means taste or flavour. Lusophony, I learned, is a collective word to mean Portuguese-speaking countries and territories. So the stamp series illustrate the dishes from Portugal and other countries who share the Portuguese language. Unknown to most of us, Portuguese is spoken as a home-language by more than 300,000 Brazilians of Japanese descent in Japan, known as dekassegui. A quick reference to the Wikipedia never fails to educate me every time!



Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sunday Stamps 003: PoGOLite in outer space


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I have to admit I took a peek at Viridian’s blog first  before deciding what to post for this week’s Sunday Stamps. Having missed two themes successively, this week I made sure my entry fits the theme.

Anyhow, here is my entry. I think a lot of astronomy enthusiasts were happy when the following stamp was issued by the Swedish Postal Office in January 2009 marking the International Year of Astronomy:
The stamp features the direction or path the PoGOLite gondola took as it zoomed off in space in August 2010 for a pathfinder mission in space. PoGOLite is a light-weight Polarized Gamma-ray Observer experiment designed to measure the polarization of soft gamma rays in the outerspace. The PoGOLite gondola lifted off from Estrange, Sweden  six months ago, and, I wonder if significant data were already collected and being studied now back here on Earth.  More about the PoGOLite here: http://www.particle.kth.se/pogolite/.  It’s amazing what our scientists can do now. If modern science can now conduct more advanced studies in the outer space, surely there is no reason why cures for all forms of cancer and other deadly diseases could  not be discovered sooner than soon.

Till next Sunday Stamps. Ta-ta.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

At the outset, I would like to apologise for this very delayed post.
If you could recall, I asked my visitors to name the items shown in the Greek FDC I featured previously. I also promised to give the correct answers as well as pick out a winner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do so because in the past few days, my laptop was infected by viruses and malwares (from downloading PC games, gah!) that damaged the registry file. It took my husband all day to figure out what was wrong and several days to fix it all up.

Anyhow… Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

There’s a large Khmer-Chinese community here so it is a big thing. Most of the shops are closed for the three-day celebration. My landlady is Khmer-Chinese and she prepared a feast the other night and we were, of course, invited. While I am happy that my husband and I were invited to join their family for a sumptuous New Year meal, at the back of my mind I was sad...

… I was sad for my dieting regimen – it has to be set aside for the moment for how could I say no to home-cooked Khmer and Chinese food? So now I am feeling tremendous, tremendous guilt that I swear never to go to parties again nor step on any kind of scales until the time comes that it feels right for me to do so. *lol*

Anyways… please bear with me for now, dear friends. I’ll have the answers and the lucky winner’s name posted over the weekend. It was fun reading your answers and had some lol moments, too. Much as I want to make a post now, I don’t want to stay long as it is movie night tonight with my husband. Have a great weekend!

Toodles.
 
Images by Freepik