Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Postcard Perfect 031: Colourful macaws

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From Asia, we go to the beautiful South American continent... to the exotic country of Brazil.

 A pair of colourful macaws, from Brazil's Amazon forest. (Postcard ID:  BR-162091)
Undeniably, Brazil has one of the most breath-taking biodiversity. I have to admit, I'm afraid of birds. I'm particularly terrified of their talons and humonguos, sharp beaks. Nevertheless, I admire their beauty, like these macaws on the postcard - the blue-and-yellow macaw (foreground), and the scarlet macaw (background). Macaws are large, colourful birds. They live in the thick, undisturbed rainforest of Brazil and feed on fruits, nuts, flowers, and nectars. 

These days, macaws are threatened because of massive deforestation. They are also being taken from their natural habitat to be sold illegally as pets. I believe these beautiful creatures should be left in the wild and not be taken as pets. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sunday Stamps 034: Christmas stamps fund fight against TB

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From the South American continent, this week we feature stamps from the great continent of Africa.


My stamps for this week comes from Suid Afrika (South Africa) which was issued in 1966:

An online auction site says this is a one-of-a-kind issue.
This is a full sheet of mint Christmas stamps, oh what a joy! I have to thank my bestfriend, Fe, for sending this to me, along with postcards and stamps from Botswana. Salamat, Fe!

Christmas stamps were issued and sold worldwide to raise money for charity through the Christmas Stamp Fund. Proceeds were used for things such as Tuberculosis (TB). South Africa was one of the later countries to issue Christmas stamps (in 1929). Various themes are featured on these stamps, from culture, landmarks, nature, traditional arts or folk art, costumes, produce, and nature and wildlife that represent South Africa. The map of South Africa serves as the background of the sheet - very clever, in my opinon - the colourful artwork and the blue ocean pops out of the page. One of the notable features to me is that  the stamps in the sheet were alternately in  English and Afrikaan. Also of particular interest in the stamp design is the cross with two horizontal bars, which is the patriarchal cross, that has become known as the international symbol for the fight against TB. It is also known as the Cross of Lorraine. 

The South African Christmas stamp 1966 was issued in support of Sunshine homes in South Africa. I could not find any info about Sunshine homes but I'm assuming it is a centre caring and providing treatment for people afflicted with TB. This makes me also wonder...  Now that TB is no longer considered a deadly disease, I wonder if the Christmas Stamp Fund provides funding to research on other diseases such as mental illnesses and new methods of treatments, like dual diagnosis treatment and many more.

I found this comprehensive information on South African Christmas stamps.




Friday, 23 September 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 050: Valletta, a UNESCO Heritage City

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I haven't exactly participated every week but I would like to mention that this postcard is my 50th entry for Postcard Friendship Friday. 50 postcards in PFF!! Yipeee! and I am posting a very special one to celebrate this milestone -  a beautiful postcard from the UNESCO Heritage city - Valletta, the capital of Malta!!

A breath-taking view of the city of Valletta. Another new country that I can now tick off my list, although, I certainly won't mind receiving more!

The postcard shows an aerial view of Valletta. We don't need Telescopes to see clearly the centuries-old fortification walls and the Island of Manoel and the city of Sliema that are found in the background of the postcard. At the back of the postcard, text reads:
Part of the landfront of Valletta showing the modern Duke of York Avenue that cuts across the walls into the city. The serried walls of Valletta were the last line of defensive network that stretched out as far as Floriana.
Malta, or the Republic of Malta, is a country in southeastern Europe, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily and east of Tunisia, with the strait of Gibraltar and Alexandria City to the east and west, respectively. Malti is the constitutional national language of Malta and its official language alongside English, replacing Italian in 1934.

This island-nation - just a tiny, barely noticeable dot on the world map - is an eclectic mix of influences - Northern African and Arabic. However small Malta's size is, it is packed with a lot of punch! From a distance, you will think that there's not much to see and do in this tiny rock and limestone island. Well, travel sites online tells me a different story. The city of Valletta, is like a living "open-air museum" with streets dotted with Baroque-style churches, buildings and monuments, timber balconies, and quaint cafes and wine bars.

Researching about Malta I realise that it is such an amazing country with so much fascinating history and culture. I wrote it down in my personal list of dream destination and would love to go there someday. For  sure I'm going to pack a Telescope to see more of the fantastic sights, and, yes, maybe go on a celebrity sight-seeing walk in Valletta.

Oh, wait. For sure there are telescopes for sale there so I don't need to bring one myself. Extra baggage. heh.


 ***
Sources:
Wikipedia: Valletta, Malta
The Official Website of the City of Valletta

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Postcard Perfect 030: Feel the sumo, hai!

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A fantastic postcard from Japan, sent by Mommy Clarissa of Brilliant Days ...

Dohyo-iri ceremony performed by sumo wrestlers.
This is a delightful ukiyo-e postcard! どうもありがとうございましたThe artwork was done by Toyokuni Kunisada III, the most popular, prolific and financially successful ukiyo-e woodblock designer of his time. Ukiyo-e, according to the Wiki, is a genre of  Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters.

Sumo wrestling is one of the many traditions of Japan that has survived despite the rapid development there. Sumo is steeped in formal rituals and traditional etiquettes which is why it is one of the most fascinating sports in the world. Dohyo-iri is a colourful ceremony performed by the sumotoris (sumo wrestlers) before the makuuchi (the top division in sumo) matches begin. Dohyo-iri literally means "entering the ring".
Down one aisle in reverse order of their rank comes a team of makuuchi rikishi (or sumotori) wearing keshomawashi or ceremonial aprons. These aprons are beautifully made of silk, richly embroidered with different designs and hemmed with gold fringe and cost at least a million yen. More info  here.
I have long dreamed of visiting Japan and this dream of mine finally came true in 2006 when a Japanese non-governmental organisation invited me along with other Cambodians to visit the country. It was such a heady, exhilirating, exciting experience, setting foot to the pulsating metropolis of Tokyo, enjoyed its beautiful countryside, and experienced local culture and food.I planned on watching a sumo match live but, my golly, a general admission ticket costs ¥5,000 (about US$50) at the time of my visit. I figured that it is too much for a budget traveler like me. I extended my stay for 3 more days in Tokyo and the ¥5,000 would take me to several other places of interest in the city. So, I shelved my plan and went to other places instead.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday Stamps 033: My South American stamps...

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... came from Venezuela, the exotic beautiful home country of my dearest friend, Luisito. He never fails to surprise me, sending me postcards (take note, it's plural!hahaha) while on holiday.

Anyhoo, here are the stamps from Venezuela. They are commemorative stamps in honor of the Bicentenario de la Independencia Republica de Bolivaria de Venezuela (Bicentennial of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela):


Estas tres están entre los firmantes del Acta de Independencia de Venezuela (These three are among the signatories of Venezuela's Act of Independence).  From left to right: Lino de Clemente, Archbishop Ramón Ignacio Méndez, and Bishop José Vicente de Unda.
Click here for more info on the declaration of the Independence of Venezuela.
The English text of the Act of Independence is here. Just an additional info, the Russian Post issued a commemorative stamp in 2011 congratulating the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the 200th Anniversary of Independence.

 I remember the day one of his envelopes came at the same time as Christmas presents from family arrived, including the small box of item I purchased online from a bulk shea butter seller overseas. What a haul for one day!

Muchas gracias, mi querido, Luisito. The stamps you used gave me a brief history of your beloved Venezuela. Our countries have so much similarities in history and struggle for independence, among others. My forefathers, too, fought for our freedom from Spain.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Must. Decide. Soon.

I'm currently having laptop troubles. I'm using my husband's desktop computer and even if I want to publish advance posts in this blog I could not do so as my scanned postcards and stamps are in the laptop.

Big problem!
My laptop is overheating. Since last week it is making an awful, loud noise. I turn it on and for only 30mins it gets really hot I'm afraid the whole unit would melt! I scoured the computer shops here, and even online, but the spare part - the fan - is proving to be difficult to find. It brings me to the point of getting a new laptop. There may be lots of affordable mini netbooks in the market these days but I'm broke and the money I have now I am saving for a new DSLR. My husband also has desk-work, so I guess we'll just have to work out something. I only have two choices... wait for the spare part and have the laptop fixed or purchase a new one. Decisions... decisions...

For now, I think this will lesser online presence and blog posts. Just so you all know :)

**
ClipArt Source.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 049: Chisinau: Cheesy what...nao?

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Hey, hey, hey!
After waiting for the breakdown service guys to come for a car emergency, I'm now home with heaps of postcards. I'm so happy about this particular postcard - the newest addition to my collection. It comes from a new country (and one of the hardest countries to receive a postcard from) in my list - MOLDOVA - and was sent by my good friend Maia, who is a noted media practitioner in Chişinău, the capital. I could not believe I now have in my hands two postcards from two new countries- Kazakhstan last week, and Moldova this week. What a joy!

The National Library of Moldova, nearly two centuries old. The statue in front of the building is of the poet, Vasili Alecsandri.
Founded in 1832, the National Library of Moldova is the largest in the country. The building looks impressive, no? But what till you see what's behind that massive pillars!
Its fund amounts to 2.5 million books stacked on 50 kilometers of shelves. Over the 170 years of its existence the library has accumulated an exclusive encyclopedic collection that includes traditional documents (books and diskettes) and other sources of information like compact disks and cassettes. Besides books the library fund includes over 4500 magazine names, 2500 newspaper names, and nearly 60 manuscripts dating back to the 18th century. Old books fund has 13 thousand volumes and approximately 2000 periodicals exhibited in over 20 different collections. Annually 16 to 17 million readers that go over one million storage items visit the National Library. It is attended by 500 readers and signs out three thousand publications daily. Most of its employees have higher education and are very familiar with bibliography and librarianship.  (More info here.)
Moldova (Republic of Moldova) is a country in the southeastern part of Europe, landlocked and bordered by Romania and Ukraine. In the past, Moldova was a part of Russian, later on, Romania, and then back to Russia again. It is only in 1991 that Moldova declared itself an independent state, as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I am so interested about Moldova's interconnection with Russia and Romania that I did a little digging about its political history.
The interconnected history of Moldova, Romania and Russia is complex, to say the least. In the 19th century, Moldova was called Bessarabia and was ruled by the Russian Empire. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Moldova briefly declared independence from Moscow, before joining Romania. As part of the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop (aka Hitler-Stalin) Pact that carved up Eastern Europe into Soviet and Nazi spheres of influence in 1940, Moldova became part of the USSR, with the eastern part allotted to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. (More details here. Here is another link to an interesting article of Moldova's geopolitical history. And for a quick glimpse of Moldovan history, here's a chronological timeline of events.)
The state language of Moldova is Moldovan/Romanian while Russian is also widely-spoken there, both as a first and second language.



Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Postcard Perfect 029: Sunshine and smiles in Spain

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Hola!

Here's a new addition to my map card collection - un mapa de la diversión de España:

What a fun card is this! The playful illustrations and the bright colours do represent the fun and food in sunny Spain.
 The map simply shows the fun (if not typical) things to see, eat and do all over Spain.

Monday, 12 September 2011

My heart is in San Francisco

My dearest friend Jaja Mozabella sent me this lovely postcard from San Francisco when she visited her mom, the juvenescent Tita Violy. 

Nothing beats the exhilarating open-air ride on a cable car scaling the steep hills, with a breathtaking view of Alcatraz Island in the background.
San Francisco is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in California and the United States. One thing that sets it apart from the other cities in America is its rich ethnic and cultural diversity. And, add to that,  there are countless of television shows and movies that were set in or about this city. Oh, and let's not forget the very popular song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

The postcard above shows a historical landmark in San Francisco! The steep hills of San Francisco is so known for made the cable cars a popular mode of transportation for most San Franciscans.

Ja, this post is for you and G. Happy anniversary, lovebirds. Maski na ngani belated ang greetings :) We may not be blood sisters, but waddaheck, in my heart, I will always think of you as one.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sunday Stamps 032: Fly me to the moon and... planet Mercury

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With an unending fascination over our universe (or what's there in the outer space) I'm over the moon when I received an official Postcrossing postcard with this commemorative stamp affixed to it:

The Project Mercury and Messenger Mission on US Forever Stamps
It's a Forever stamp featuring the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around the planet Mercury. NASA's unmanned Messenger Mission is a scientific investigation project of the planet Mercury.  This stamp, along with another one featuring the American astronaut Alan Shepard (featured for being the first American in space on his historic flight on May 5, 1961 aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7)  were issued in May 4 this year, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of America's first manned flight. On March 17, 2011, MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Mercury. These two historic missions frame a remarkable fifty-year period in which America has advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights. (Source)

Postcard Friendship Friday 048: North Kazakhstan Regional Russian Drama Theatre

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This is my most-awaited postcard from Kazakhstan! My first postcard  from the said country via private swap.

 

Northern Kazakhstan Regional Russian Drama Theatre Sent by Boris
Postmarked Петропавл Пстy  (Petropavlovsk), Солтүстік Қазақстан облысы (North Kazakhstan Province),
20 June, 2011


The Nikolai Pogodin Northern Kazakhstan Regional Russian Drama Theatre, located in Petropavlosk City in  North Kazakhstan. This theatre located in the northern region’s capital Petropavlovsk was named after Nikolai Pogodin, a famous Russian writer and playwright.  Performances are given for children in the morning and grown-ups in the evening.  I’m afraid there is not much information to be had about this theatre but you can find out about its history here (translated texts).


The sender and his wife confesses to being fond of this theatre and the wonderful performances held there.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Postcard Perfect 028: Battle of the lefties tonight

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It’s Day 9 at the US Open today and defending champion and second seed Spanish Rafael Nadal (aka, Rafa) will be playing against the unseeded Gilles Muller for a place in the quarterfinal round.

 

Muller and Nadal met in Wimbledon this year  and, although Muller gave Rafa a tough two sets, Rafa is expected to cruise through to the next round. If Rafa crushed the very tough opponent Argentinian David Nalbandian in the third round, the odds are very much against Muller, for how can you expect a less accomplished player (Muller) to fare against the defending champion (Rafa)? Just my humble opinion, and I could be wrong.  We’ll see later tonight (err, perhaps early morning hours, local time).

 

Muller, also a lefty like Rafa, hails from Luxembourg (officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) and once won the USO Boy’s title some years ago. I’m a Rafa Nadal fan through and through but I’m giving a space for this multi-view postcard – my first one from Luxembourg -  as my entry to this week’s Postcard Perfect:

 

Luxembourg postcard front LU – 3643. Clockwise, from top left: Cathédrale et  Bibliothèque Nationale (nocturne); Vallée du Grund; Fontaine Côte d'Eich; and the Monument Nationale de la Solidarité


Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries and the second richest country in the world. It is a landlocked country bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany and has a population of over 500,000. A founding member of the EU,  Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, the national language that is akin to German; German, the first foreign language for most Luxembourgers and is used in the media; and French, the administrative language.

 

 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 047: Round-shaped mapcard from Poland

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Look what was in my mailbox this week  --

 

Poland round mapcard

A round-shaped card showing the outline map of Poland - showing its 16 administrative regions and their corresponding coat-of-arms – over the Polish national flag (or national colours). Around the outline is Poland’s name written in different languages. Printed at the back is Poland’s national coat-of-arms.

 

This card was sent by Ania via private swap. What I love about this card is that it has two elements that I prefer in postcards – map and national flag – and to top it all, the shape is unusual for a postcard. Which I think is fun! This is not my first odd-shaped postcard. I have these two to boast of:

 

New York yellow cab

A taxi-shaped postcard from New York. One of my dreams is to gallivant around New York, snapping pictures.  If I already have a baby (or babies) by then, no worries. I can always get a cool Mountain Buggy Duet Stroller for the kids to make my photo-walk easier. I know… dream on, Sreisaat ^.^

 

Vir Cheese, Croatia Cheese-shaped postcard from Croatia.  The postcards I received from Croatia – odd-shaped or otherwise - are all enough to convince me how beautiful this country is.

 

These two were featured in my previous Postcard Friendship Friday posts. I think they’re fun to look at and great additions to my collection! I have three other unusual-shaped postcards waiting to be posted so watch out for them in the coming weeks.

 
Images by Freepik