Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Postcard Perfect 018 : Le Chateau de Gruyeres

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This has got to be one of the most breath-taking views I have ever laid my eyes on. OH.MY.GOD.  It just shows how awesome God’s creations are.


The perfectly-preserved Château de Gruyères sits on top of a low hill in the midst of the green pre-Alpine foothills of Fribourg .

Château de Gruyères  is one of the most splendid castles in all of Switzerland and it is overlooking the charming medieval town of Gruyères, Switzerland. With cobbled stone town centre it is one of Switzerland’s most photogenic sights and attracts hundreds of day-trippers throughout the summer season.


The château was formerly the regional seat of power, occupied from 1080 to 1554 by the nineteen counts of Gruyères, but was decimated by a fire in 1493 which destroyed virtually everything but the dungeons. The last occupants reconstructed the living quarters in a lavish Savoyard style; Michael, the final Count of Gruyères, ran up huge debts doing this and then fled, leaving his creditors – the governments of Fribourg and Bern – to divide up his lands between them. A rich Geneva dynasty, the Bovy and Balland families, bought the castle in 1848 and supported a number of artists in residence, including the French landscape painter Corot, before the cantonal government of Fribourg took over maintenance of the castle in 1938. To approach it, you must walk the length of Gruyères’s dipping, picturesque main street with its central fountain and quaint old houses on either side bedecked with hanging signs. (Source)

 

The name of Gruyère comes from the French word for Crane (grue), the bird featured on the heraldic arms of the house of the counts (shown at the bottom right-hand side of the postcard). Gruyères is also the home to the famous Gruyères cheese, a sweet, slightly salty cheese with a flavour that varies with age.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Stamps 023: Butterflies of Botswana

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Summer, and anything related to this season. So here’s my share for this week, two butterflies on stamp from Botswana. They were affixed to two postcards sent to me by my very good friend Fe who lives there with her family.

 

 

 

 

 

These fantastic butterfly definitives are great additions to my  collections. Both stamps are part of a 14-set of stamps  classified as Standard Postage B and issued by the Botswana Post under the Butterflies theme. These butterflies were beautifully illustrated by Philip Huebosch and came out in November 2007. 

 

I just learned that the Botswana Post releases four to six commemorative issues per year, and definitives after every five years. 
 

Just a bit of info about Botswana.

 

Botswana is a country unrivalled in its abundance of wildlife and natural resources, which are as diverse as the Kalahari Desert in the southern and eastern parts of the country, to the lush Okavango Delta swamps and river plains of the north.

It is a land locked country that straddles the Tropic of Capricorn and shares borders with Namibia to the west and north, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the north-east and South Africa to the east and south. Botswana is approximately the size of France and twice the size of Arizona. Most of the country is arid and desert like with large tracts of land set aside for maintenance and development of national parks and wild life sanctuaries by the Government of Botswana.

Botswana is the worlds leading gem diamond producer and relies heavily on mineral exports to provide one of the most stable economies in Africa. Eco-tourism is also an integral part of the economy with the country deeply committed to the conservation of wildlife heritage. (Source)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Pink Saturday 016: Her pink floral dress

Pink Saturday


My nephew and niece – they’re cousins - showing off the toys they received during their school’s Christmas party.  She was wearing the pink–and-yellow floral dress I bought here in Phnom Penh. Isn’t she lovely? He, on the other hand, is mimicking his favourite superhero.

 

joshua and julianna

I miss them both! They used to follow me around the house, with their big, round, questioning eyes, bugging me for answers to their unending “whys” and “why-nots”… they – Joshua and Julianna - were four and one and half years old, respectively, when I was on holiday there. My, they have grown a lot!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Postcard Friendship 038: Preah Vihear Temple, another Khmer architectural masterpiece

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A bit of history lesson this week… please excuse this lengthy post.

I won’t be delving into the hot issue of ownership between countries concerned as I think this topic isn’t worthy of getting all hot and bothered. Let’s focus on the good side instead, shall we?


The great Khmer Empire was once the most powerful in Southeast Asia ruling over parts of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia and King Jayavarman II declared himself the chakravartin, or the king of kings. The Khmer Empire is no more but the legacy it left behind still survives. The Angkor Wat  Temple complex, or the Angkor Archeological Park as it is called by some, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features the most beautiful and awe-inspiring temples in all of Southeast Asia – Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, just to name a few. 

However, a century or so prior to Angkor Wat,  the construction of the Preah Vihear Temple was started. Prasat Preah Vihear (below), or simply Preah Vihear Temple, is a stunning Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province in northern Cambodia. It is one of the most revered Cambodian temples and sits beautifully on top of a cliff in Dangrek Mountains that divide the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Although it is still in ruins and has not been restored yet, the amazing carvings and spectacular lintels grab your attention right away! 

Preah Vihear self-made maxicard2


What sets this apart from the Angkor Wat Temple is its location on top of a mountain. I cannot imagine how the ancient Khmers brought heavy stones up to this mountain to build this beauty. I hope someday, when the tension eases, to visit Preah Vihear Temple and see it with my own eyes. More information and pictures about this newest Heritage Site in Cambodia can be found at the UNESCO World Heritage Convention site.

Construction started in the late 9th century, 100 years before the start of Angkor and was used to worship Shiva Brahmanism. Preah Vihear was the ultimate sacred temple for the Khmers and provided a place for worship and respect for kings and scholars during more than 300 years. Preah Vihear was more than a temple it was a special sanctuary for study and reflection on the close connection between the heavens and the earth as well as the divinity of Shiva. (Source)

Preah Vihear Temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 7, 2008. Now that UNESCO has categorically stated that this is a Cambodian site (amidst the protests of Thailand), the Cambodian flag flies proudly over the temple. It is such a source of national pride of the Cambodians that the Cambodian National Bank issued a new 2000-riel bank note (below) with the Preah Vihear Temple on it to commemorate the significant milestone in Cambodian history.

Cambodia_2007_2000R_front                                                                       Source: BankNoteAsia

 

Lastly, this post is dedicated to Dorin of Dorincard for egging me to make my own maxicard. Here it is now, Dorin… is it any good, dear sir? :) Next step is for me to go to the Post Office and see if they’ll give me the needed postmarks. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Postcard Perfect 017: Not just cheese

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This week’s postcard came all the way from Gouda, Netherlands.

Gouda, Netherlands

A home-made postcard by the sender named Fouchour, it shows the map of Gouda, a city and municipality in western Netherlands, with pictures of Gouda’s gothic stadhuis (city hall) and the town’s coat-of-arms, and other cute stuffs.  The pics on the upper right hand side and on the lower left are unrecognizable. 

Like any other towns in the Netherlands, Gouda is famous its cheese (Gouda cheese, of course), candles, waffle syrups, and smoking pipes as well. Not only that, Gouda also prides itself of its most beautiful Gothic stadhuis  in the whole Netherlands and some of the best glass-stained windows in all of Europe.

 

The blue dot on the postcard is where Fouchour lives. Thanks, Fouchour.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Stamps 022 : The King and Queen of Hearts

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This week’s theme still dwells on se-tenants, so…  another se-tenant today!

Just got back from our Sunday lunch-date out and window shopping for plasma tvs  with my husband (just looked at the prices for reference, we didn’t buy yet!) and immediately went on a hunt for se-tenants. Happily, I found some more in my stash. It’s affixed to an envelope sent to me a year ago by my very good friend, Conniechiwa.


This se-tenant pair belongs to the USPS Love series, the King and Queen of Hearts, issued in 2009 and a clever tribute to the world’s most favourite “game”.  Do you know what is it? It’s the game of love, of course! :)

 

The artist, Jeanne Greco, said that she used the 18th century French playing cards as a reference and created her own interpretation on a computer. She retained the traditional colour of playing cards – a white or cream background – with only basic colours as accents. Lovely, design, isn’t it? If only my stamps weren’t covered by the postmarks!  But here, I’m posting a mint copy for your viewing pleasure. If you’d look closer, you will notice that the design flows through the stamp perforations to make a continuous pattern. 


The (US) Postal Service began issuing its popular Love stamps in 1973. Over the years these stamps have featured a wide variety of designs, including heart motifs, colorful flowers, and the word “LOVE” itself. (Source)

As an aside… may I ask if any of you know the David Pomeranz song “King and Queen of Hearts”? Oh, raise your hands, don’t be shy! Click here to listen to the song, it might help you remember :) 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pink Saturday 015: Don’t touch my poodle!

Pink Saturday


I have mixed feelings about this postcard. Tell me what you think:


I love dogs in general;  I have two at home.
I know dyeing poodles is done by professional groomers (although some owners do it themselves) and are using “safe” dyes but  I just don’t think it’s right to do so.  It’s the same as dressing up your dogs in silly costumes. I can understand why some people put on make up or dress up in a sexy nurse costume  every Halloween party but to do that to a dog seems ridiculous to me. I just don’t like it.

But hey, it’s just me. To each his own.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 037: Taiwanese rice bowls

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From the beautiful island of Taiwan and hand made by its indigenous people…


These are rice and noodle bowls, and my, they are beautiful. I love rice and noodles; they are the staple food of most people in Asia.  A traditional rice and noodle bowl is made of porcelain and when it is dropped it breaks (naturally, lol!).

No, it’s not my birthday yet but if you ask me what kind of birthday gifts I would love to get, I will tell you that rice/noodle bowls is one of them. In fact, I have several of them in my cupboard ready for use on special occasions.  Sounds crazy, yes? Bowls look alike but, yeah, that’s just me. And I have a lot of room for more! lol. My friend Conniechiwa tweeted that she would probably eat more rice and noodles using these pretty bowls. I concur!

Don’t you just love the designs – they’re made by the craftsmen coming from the different indigenous groups of Taiwan. They are all hand-painted and the designs tell which indigenous groups they belong too. 

The sender said she didn’t know what kind of postcard to send me but chose this one by instinct after seeing it in the rack. I’m impressed, I do love this card!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Postcard Perfect 016: Orthodox churches in Minsk

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This postcard came from Мінск (Minsk), the vibrant capital of Беларусь (Belarus), a former state of the Soviet Union. Belarus gained its sovereignty  in July 1990 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Minsk is best known as a living monument to the grandiose aspirations of Soviet architecture and urban planning.

 

Orthodox churches in Minsk, Belarus

 

Orthodox is the main religion in Belarus and there are thousands of Orthodox churches in Belarus. Five of the most popular  found in Minsk are shown in the postcard, namely: top left, the Protection of the Holy Virgin Church; top right, St. Mary Magdalene Church; bottom left, the Icon of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church;  middle, the Holy Spirit Cathedral; and bottom right, the Nativity of Christ Church. There are also other religions practised there including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Judaism and Islam.

 

The sender, Anna, wrote at the back of the postcard:

I live in Minsk,  Belarus. This is so very far from your country. Our country is not very big,  but very beautiful. And the Navapolatsk City situated on the north of Belarus is the geographical centre of Europe.

Дзякуй, Ганна. Thank you very much, Anna. I hope all is well with you.

 

*As an aside, Belarus was one of the badly affected by radiation when the Chernobyl nuclear plant  exploded some twenty-five years ago.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sunday Stamps 021: Fairytales of Croatia

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This week’s stamps are from Croatia.

 

Again, I did not cut out the two other stamps that came together with the se-tenant ones because I do not like ruining the nice frank marks.  I think the design and artwork on the stamps are fantastic! These were issued on a 20-stamp sheet (10sets in se-tenant) on a gummed white paper. By the way, I think the ships on stamps are equally fantastic. I don’t have any info about them though.

 

Svarožić and Bjesomar are characters in the popular and well-loved chidlren’s fairy tale, Potjeh, written by Croatia’s renowned and prolific  writer Ivana Brlić Mažuranić (1874 – 1938). Because of her successful work, she is considered as the “Croatian Andersen”. Her imagination was playful; she was in touch with Slavic mythology and created unforgettable characters with magical names like Vjest, Ljutiša, Potjeh, Stribor, Malik, Tinilinić, Kosjenka. Many of her characters became synonyms for people’s moral and emotional characteristics. (Source).

 

Potjeh is a story about a grandfather and his three grandsons. The grandsons need to choose between the Good and Evil, where god Svarožić represents the Good, and the Master of Anger, Bjesomar, represents the Evil. This story tells about the struggle between reason and emotions in finding the Truth in life. (Source) 

I love how the colours of each character’s clothes really define their characters, without having to read story about Potjeh. Svarožić in golden yellow as the golden boy=good; and Bjesomar, the evil one, in blue (reminds me of the Genie from Aladdin’s lamp)  with wispy mustache and nasty look on his face, and trailed by animals obviously terrified of him. lol.  I would like to thank Tomi for the wonderful stamps and covers he sent – you don’t know how much I am learning a lot about Croatia!


Here is a link to the story of Potjeh; it is in Croatian though. I wish I could find English translations online one of these days.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pink Friday 014: Her pink bag

Pink Saturday


My three year-old niece and her favourite pink shoulder bag.

 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 036: The beautiful landscape of Oberösterreich

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A breath-taking view of a rural village in Oberösterreich. At a quick glance, the view reminds me of rural England as well. The European countryside is so postcard-pretty!

 

 Oberösterreich, or Upper Austria, is one of the nine states, or Bundesländer, of Austria and has a population of 1.3million. According to the Wiki, Oberösterreich is the fourth largest Austrian state in terms of land size and the third largest by population.

 

Bettina wrote at the back of the postcard:

Diese karte ziegt unseren wohnart, hier ist es selu ruhig knapp 1000 einwohner. Liebe grusse  aus Oberosterreich.

Rough translation:
The postcard shows our quiet life in a village of nearly 1,000 residents. With love from Upper Austria.

 

I hope I got that right.

I welcome any corrections :)

Check out the ridged edges of the postcard!  The ridges plus the colours added to the vintage-y feel to the postcard – which I really, really like. Could this be a genuine photo card? Or perhaps a reprint? Who knows. I did see  a logo with a “KS Luftbild Aufnahmen” printed at the back of the postcard, probably referring to the kind of camera used for aerial photography.


Anyways… the stamps used were two definitive featuring the flowers of Austria:

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Postcard Perfect 015: Protaras, Cyprus

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Here’s one that came from my  husband’s late grandmother. It’s from a box of postcards she collected over the years  from family members who were on holiday. I “inherited” the postcards not long ago, much to my delight.

 


Protaras is a popular holiday destination located on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. It is under the administrative responsibility of Paralimni Municipality and boasts of fabulous sandy beaches and splendid weather all-year round.

 

The sender of the postcard (my husband’s cousin) was somehow disappointed. At the back of the postcard, she wrote:

Cyprus is lovely although the weather is awful – I should have packed thermal vests rather than bikinis! We’ve hired a car though and are going exploring instead of sunbathing.

At least their holiday in Cyprus didn’t end up a total disaster!  There were charming, quaint villages, natural rock formations and caves and nature parks around Protaras for day-time exploration that saved their holiday which found very enjoyable.

 

The stamps used are the following:


The stamp on the right is a part of the 5-set definitive stamps issued in 1994, showing the traditional costumes of Cyprus. The one on the left is the current issue of what the Cyprus Postal Service Office calls a Refugee Fund Tax Stamp.

Every letter, postcard and parcel has to have an additional refugee postage stamp on it (cost as at January 2011 is 2 cents) in order for it to enter the sending process. The proceeds of the refugee stamps go to the refugee fund, i.e. for the Greek Cypriots who became refugees from their homes in the north of Cyprus after the invasion in 1974. (Source)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday Stamps 020: Stamps from Russia, with love

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This week’s stamps are from Russia and they were affixed in the Russian Museum postcard I received long ago.  Alexander wrote that he sent this postcard from the Russian museum so it bore special cancelation marks. I don’t  know which one of though because it’s all written in Russian! Help, please :)


I could not find any info on the stamp on the upper left side; the year to indicate when it was issued is there but it’s not in the list of registered stamps of Russia (n.b.: thanks to Postcardy for the help).  Must be some printing error, or something. That’s why it’s important for companies that provide printing services to have someone with sharp eyes to proofread. Anyway, the stamp is probably a definitive.

 

On the upper right side, however, is a definitive stamp showing the traditional Margial wedding headdress with “sewn on” pendant, usually made of silver with coins, turquoise and pink coral accents. It’s  part of a 4-set issued by the Russian Postal Service in 2008 featuring the decorative art (traditional headdresses) of Dagestan. Look at how intricate the design is. It’s been said that the more coins there are on the headdress, the wealthier the girl’s family. Some coins in these headdresses date back to the 1800s. Dagestan, by the way, is a republic of Russia (Республика Дагестан) located in the North Caucasus region (south of Russia); the capital is Makhachkala.


The stamp on the lower left, is a special stamp issued in 2007 commemorating the 300th anniversary of the voluntary affiliation of Khakasia to the Russian state. Khakasia, with its capital Abakan, is located in the southern part of Eastern Siberia. It is one of the most beautiful Siberian regions with its mountain slopes, steppes, and  megaliths, as reflected in the stamp.

 

Update:  Joy of Postal Picture kindly supplied me with the information about the “unknown” 2004 stamp on top. It’s from a mini-sheet for the 60th Anniversary of Offensive of the Soviet Army in 1944.  The stamp shows the monument to the Soviet soldier; and the margins of the Souvenir Sheet show a map of offensive of the Soviet Army in 1944. (Source) Thanks a lot, Joy!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Pink Saturday 013: Kiss my pink heels

Pink Saturday


Lookie-lookie… here are some pink goodness that I found while visiting Japan Thrift shop several weeks ago.

 


The pair on the left looks worn out now but the one on the left could still be useful, especially on rainy days. Yes, it is made of plastic and great to use especially during the rainy season when the streets of Phnom Penh gets flooded. Despite the rising flood water, you can still look fashionable with this plastic high-heeled shoes (two inch cigarette heels). LOL.

Each pair is sold for about $3. Any takers?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 035: Feliz cumpleaños y felicitaciones!

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Warning, fan-girl talking here. If you find tennis boring, or you simply are not into tennis, please skip this post.

Yes, I am a tennis fan and I am not ashamed to admit it.
Because today is a very, very  special day, I am posting this postcard.

First, because it is Rafael Nadal’s 25th birthday today. Happy birthday, Rafa. My, he has grown right before my eyes.


I echo Neil Harman’s sentiments (from his twitter):

Rafael Nadal is 25 today. All I shall say is that if everyone had a bit of Rafa in them, the world would be a better place. – Neil Harman Times

 

Second, because he is through to the finals of the Roland Garros tournament in Paris. Just a few minutes ago, I watched him (on television)  beat Andy Murray in three straight sets with a score of 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

 

With this win, this birthday boy has just booked his place for  a shot at a 6th title at the Roland Garros. He already holds 5 RG titles winning in 2005 (the second teenager to win RG in his first attempt after Mats Wilander in 1982 and the second teenager to win a Grand Slam title after Pete Sampras won the US Open in 1990 at 19 years old), 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010. Apart from this, he also holds two Wimbledon titles, and one title each for the Australian Open and the US Open. These, of course, aside from the ATP titles he has in his pocket, errr, cabinet, if you like. Tonight’s match lasted for 3hours and 17minutes. On finals, this Sunday, it will give him a chance to equal Bjorn Borg’s record of 6 titles in Paris. Congratulations, and vamos, Rafa!

 

As a tennis fan-girl, I am not alone. I found one through postcards. My dear friend, Ana, and I may have established our friendship through our hobby of collecting  postcards but we have cemented this friendship through our mutual admiration for Rafa so I am sharing this postcard and this post with her :)

The postcardon top was sent to me by another tennis fan from Germany.  Danke schön, Olli.Ich habe immer noch bei Ihnen für Ihre Güte zu erwidern. It showed Rafa in his fighting form. Judging from his shirt,  this postcard must have been taken during one of his matches at the ATP Tour in Montreal, Canada back in 2009. He didn’t win the title though.

 

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Photo Credit: USA Golf Tennis

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Postcard Perfect 014: The gothic churches of Lithuania

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Lietuva (Lithuania) is located in Northern Europe and the southernmost of the three Baltic states. Lithuania is the first Soviet republic to declare its independence in March 1990.

 

The St. Anne Cathedral (Šv. Onos bažnyčia, left) and the St. Bernadine Churches (right).

 

One of the national prides of Lithuania is the St. Anne Cathedral – the masterpiece of Lithuanian gothic. According to Wikipedia, it is a prime example of flamboyant gothic and brick gothic architectural styles. This iconic landmark is located in the Old Town centre in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital,  and is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

It is thought that this church was built during 1495-1500 by the Franciscans and has remained almost unchanged over the centuries.  It has been said that this church was built using 33 kinds of bricks in a colour that lends its natural look.  The elaborate details on the main facade  is the most favourite area for visitors to have their photos taken making it the most photographed area of the church.

 

Legend has it that the Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte, was so enthralled by St. Anne’s Church’s beauty and magnificence that he desired to take the church back with him to Paris “in the palm of his hand”.  Okay this piece of information caught my attention, and had me chuckling for awhile. Knowing that Bonaparte  was not exactly a “big man” by European standards – I guess the Lithuanians were lucky his palm was not big enough, and the church of St. Anne was safe where it stood!


The older and much higher (or taller, in terms of the church’s height), St. Bernadine Church is directly behind St. Anne’s and also built by the Franciscans. Its renaissance and baroque details added to its original gothic style in the 16th century contrasts with the purely gothic style of  St. Anne’s. Old photographs show that St. Bernadine had a fantastic interior but during the Soviet times, the Soviet took control of the church and was made into a warehouse. Soon after the Independence, the church was returned to the Franciscans and has been undergoing a massive, massive renovation up to this day.

 

Affixed in the postcard are the following stamps:

 

Above, right, is a commemorative stamp on the 400 years anniversary (1608-2008) of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparition in Šiluva, a small town with about 1,000 inhabitants in the region of Samogitia in Lithuania.  On the left, is one of the two stamps in a set issued as definitive in Nov 2007 under the theme Holy-days and Celebrations.

 

I’d like to share how the sender creatively wrote her message at the back of the postcard, I love it! It showed a bit of her personality :)

 

 
Images by Freepik