Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Postcard Perfect 038: Dreaming of Finland

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Why do I have the urge to grab my passport and board on a plane to Finland? The answers, my friends, lie here:

Beautiful sights of Finland for different seasons

Most of us think snow-capped landscapes when we hear the word "Finland" but, in reality, it has a whole lot more to offer, as you can see in the postcard. Aside from the fantastic natural environment, Finland also boasts of its fine architecture, rich culture and people. My dream is to explore Finland's countryside with the help of a dependable vehicle and a trusty tom tom gps!

With a stunning and unspoilt nature and a sheer possibility to see Santa Claus in his homestead and the aurora borealis - and not to mention the fun of berry-picking every summer - I really wouldn't think twice, if given the opportunity. Who's coming with me? :) 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Stamps 043: Outlaws on Chinese stamps


Art on stamps - this is the theme this week at Viridian's Sunday Stamps. First thing comes to mind is a painting but then saw this Chinese stamps sent to me years ago that does not only show a painting but also illustrate one of the four great Chinese classical masterpieces, The Outlaws of the Marsh. It is a story of 108 characters - all kindhearted outlaws - who fight for people's rights against an evil, corrupt government. Familiar, isn't it? Seems like an Asian Robin Hood or any other characters in Western literature that waged war against the evil.

Here are the much-touted stamps:

Although there are lots of materials about this story in the Internet, this is the first time I've heard of it and I'm very interested!

It has been said that this story has never before shown on stamps so that the Chinese Post issued stamps in a series that span over a period of ten years beginning in 1987! 

The stamps on the left are only two from the four-set in the 5th series that came out in 1997.  Top stamp, Hu Yanzhuo tricks Guan Sheng. Below, Yan Qing wrestles Qing Tianchu.

Along with the stamps corresponding souvenir sheets were also issued, except in the second series. The souvenir sheets show a conglomeration of the stories told on stamps and are all beautifully illustrated and painted by contemporary, anonymous Chinese painters. 

I'm very interested to learn more about this epic classic and I now have this urge to complete the set.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Postcard Perfect 037: The Sights of Aix-en-Provence

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Coming all the way from the beautiful south of France, the Aix-en-Provence:

The sights of Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence is a lively city 30kms away from Marseille and best known for its thermal hot springs. It also boasts of more than 300days of sunshine. Not surprising that a lot of foreigners chose to live here, including the sender of this postcard, because of the nice weather.

In late June or July, the lavender fields of Aix-en-Provence is one of the main tourist drawers, with the beautiful rows of blue and lavender flowers dominating the landscape. Aix is also known for its art schools and universities that attract thousands of foreign students to the city.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Sunday Stamps 042: The People's Republic of Kampuchea stamp


This week's Sunday Stamps is a theme-free day and our host, Viridian, suggests posting anything that we wish. So, today, I'd like to share this old Cambodian stamp, circa 1987, when Cambodia was still under the Vietnamese rule and was known then as the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea.

Baument technologique avec l'antenne de radio micro-onde
Valued at 1 riel.
 It can be recalled that so much fighting happened between Cambodia and neighboring Vietnam concerning border disputes in the 60s. Then we all know about the Pol Pot regime in 1975 that lasted till 1979 when the Vietnamese troops captured and freed Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge. It is then when the whole country was under the occupation of Vietnamese forces and the pro-Hanoi People's Republic of Kampuchea was established.
Despite its inherent weaknesses and the odds stacked against it, which included being dismissed as a "puppet state" of Vietnam and being imposed grievous economic sanctions, as well as a debilitating Civil War, the PRK/SOC (State of Cambodia, État du Cambodge) remained stronger than its enemies.[2] Overcoming grinding poverty and isolation, it was able to achieve the reconstruction of Cambodia as a nation. - Source
Taking into consideration the last sentence in the above paragraph, this explains why there is an microwave antenna on this stamp. It shows that the country is well on its way to reconstruction and development. Unfortunately, there is not much information to be had about this stamp. In fact, I don't think the Cambodian Post Office has a complete stamp archive. So sad really because, aside from stamps,  there are countless valuable documents and records have been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and are now lost forever.

Postcard Friendship Friday 057: I dream of picking blueberries in Finland

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This is another beautiful postcard from Finland showing one of its national prides and favourite summer pastimes:

Blueberries of Finland, where picking berries is a national pastime.
Postcard ID: 1138334

This card left Finland in early of July this year, the time when, the sender told me, that the blueberry season is in full-swing. This is a very charming postcard and the kind that I really like - the style of the artwork, the woods, the blueberries, and the wooden box made of birch... all capture what the berry season is all about. I'm sure many Finnish nationals who live outside their country undoubtedly get nostalgic and homesick when they receive this kind of postcard.

At the time of her writing this postcard, she just had finished picking her first berries of the season and enjoys them with her muesli. When she was younger, she said, she likes to eat them with milk and a bit of sugar. Don't we all love eating fruits with milk and sugar? I do. I love bits of information like this. It brings me to the doorstep of Sipi's beautiful country and gives me a sneak-peek of their fascinating way of life. Here's another interesting post about blueberries in Finland captured in a stamp.

Paljon kiitoksia näyttämiseen minulle kulttuuria, Sipi, siitä sydämeni pohjasta.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

I have been remiss in my blogging duties

I have been so lax about updating this blog this week. My apologies, dear friends, but I have a very good reason. I've been busy with a consultancy work, it's extremely hot in the city, I am feeling a bit lethargic (due to that time of the month again)... so many excuses, eh?

Wait for me. I'll see you this Christmas :)
I have so many postcards (not so new arrivals) that needed sorting out and posting but all I want to do is just laze around all day and snooze. I have also been dreaming about Kep again - it's been almost a year since I last went there. I miss the green hills, the fantastic view of the Gulf of Thailand, the sea breeze, and, of course, the fresh seafood of Kep. 

My younger brother, who was recently there on a short holiday with my other brother, sent me this picture (right) adding insult to injury :( Waaaah.  Sob. What a brat he is.

Anyways, the picture shows the newly-constructed swimming pool at my favourite guesthouse. Isn't the view gorgeous and the pool very inviting? I could imagine myself swimming or lazing by the pool with a refreshing drink in hand. With the nice tropical sunshiny weather there for most of the year it doesn't need any pool heat pumps at any time. My husband said we might spend the holidays there - which is great news to me!

So with that, I want to say please bear with me for the time being. I'll be back to my normal self in no time, I promise.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday Stamps 041: Rugby and cycling on Italian stamps


I actually have two maxicards from Italy that I am excited to share with you this week.

The Azurris, the national rugby  team of Italy, on this awesome maxicard. On the left you can also see the emblems of the other countries which partake in the Six Nations Rugby Championship. Can you name one or all of them?

I wasn't a fan of rugby until recently and I love this maxicard. It showcases the Italian Rugby Team during the first time they were added to the five nations, thus creating "Sei Nazioni", or what is now known as the Six Nations Rugby Championship.

Fausto Coppi, the Il Campionissimo, or the Champion of Champions. He is an all-around cyclist, excelled in climbing and time trialling, and also great on sprinting. The Italians are so passionate about cycling.
 Another beautiful maxicard honouring the most successful and popular cyclist of all time, the Italian Fausto Coppi, on his birthday. He won his first Giro d’Italia in 1940 at age 20 - to this day the youngest ever to do so. He went on to win Giro d'Italia four more times, in 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953. He also won Tour de France two times (1949 and 1952) as well as the World Championship in 1953. More about Fausto Coppi's illustrious cycling career here and here.

Both maxicards were sent by two of my favourite Italian sisters/postcrossers back in 2009. Did you see the cool FDC postmarks on the cards? Awesome!
Grazie mille, ragazze!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 056: Aboriginal Australian

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This beauty is an official Postcrossing postcard that came all the way from Western Australia.

The didgeridoo is an iconic Aboriginal Australian musical instrument and is used in traditional dances and ceremonies.
Postcard ID: AU 144-749
The sender said the postcard doesn't show much of a "traditional costume" (pertaining to my postcard preference) but it is a traditional way to dress for Aboriginal people. Heather, this is more than okay - this is perfect! Thank you very much. It shows not only the traditional way of dressing for the Aboriginal Australians but also two of their ancient traditions - body art and playing the didgeridoo - that still thrives amongst modern-day Aborigines.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Postcard Perfect 036: Madurodam: Mini-Netherlands!

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This is the world's smallest city found in the Netherlands - Madurodam:

If I'm in the country with limited time, visiting Madurodam would be the best way for me to see all of Netherlands. All the sights of Netherlands are found here, only on a smaller scale. I'd probably be feeling like Godzilla while strolling in this place.
Madurodam was built in 1952 and named after a student George Maduro, a Jewish from Curacao studying law in the Netherlands. He fought the Nazi ccupation forces as a member of the Dutch resistance and died at Dachau concentration camp in 1945. His parents donated the money to start the Madurodam project.

Here in Madurodam you can see virtually every building, every monument, palace, and tourist attraction (red light district, cheese market, various windmills, and much, much more) of the Netherlands that were recreated in miniature forms, including a railway, a highway, and the Schiphol Airport!

I will definitely write this all down in my wish-list!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sunday Stamps 040: Going wild over blueberries!


I'm late, I'm late! Sunday came flying by quickly and I had forgotten to post my entry for this week.

Here you go, anyway:

 The Finnish people love their forests but they are also mighty proud of their berries, too. Every summer, I was told that berry-picking is the favourite activity to do there (and neighbouring Norway), a national pastime or an obsession of sorts for some. is In fact, they are so proud of their berries, particularly blueberries that they even dedicated a stamp to them, shown above.

In 2006, Posti Finland issued the above stamp as a definitive with value equal to the first class postage. The design shows the beloved blueberries - on a cup and others still attached to the stems - and the traditional summer dish of blueberry pie. Yum! I love blueberries in pies, muffins, and pancakes. The jam or preserve is best for sandwich spread too. Send grandma something special today, like a big jar of blueberry jam or fresh berries. Geez, it always makes my mouth water every time I look at this stamp :)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday 055: Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire

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From the beautiful, historic city of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, comes this postcard sent by a good friend and fellow ex-pat Myron. He is currently residing in Baku for several months now as part of an international exchange program there. 

The impressive building shown in the postcard is the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after M.F. Akhundov (Mirza Fatali Akhundov), a great academic and a celebrated author, playwright, and philosopher.

The building, built in 1911, was designed along the lines of Renaissance style of architecture. Today it stands as one of the most beautiful and majestic symbols of cultural life in Azerbaijan. No wonder my friend is in love with this building which is just a block away from where he lives. I wonder how many performances  has he seen there, if ever he has.

Azerbaijan, located on the western edge of the Caspian Sea, sits at the crossroad between East and West (Asia and Europe) and is considered to be one of the oldest sites of humankind.

Azerbaijan is a geographical name. On the one hand this name is linked with the population, which lived in this region for thousand of years before our era, and who were mostly fire-worshippers. Local population considered that fire was their God and so they worshipped the fire. "Azer" means fire. The Turkic name "Azer" was used for this territory for a long time. The word "Azer" consists of two parts - "az" and "er". In Turkic languages, "az" means a good intention and a fate of success. Thus, the word "Azer" means "a brave man", "a brave boy", "the fire keeper". The word "Azerbaijan" originates from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe, who resided in those territories. (Source)

Many thanks, Myron. This is my first postcard from Azerbaijan and I hope this won't be the last one.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The sights of Toronto!

Was running errands again earlier this morning. There was some kind of emergency at home and I had to get the stuff needed to repair a busted water pipe. I hate going out unplanned, it disrupts my routine. I so wish there are on-call handymen to do the fixing stuff at home. You know, just like the toronto bathroom renovations or repair team that are available 24-7. But I digress now.

Of course, I took the opportunity to visit the Post Office again to check if I have postcards in my mailbox. Nada. But that's okay, at least, I was able to go out of the house, had coffee and a bit of fresh air to keep things off my mind. 

Here's the postcard for today, a postcard from a nice, 28-year old dude from Toronto, Canada:

The sights of Toronto. I love that apart from the various Toronto landmarks, included in the postcard is the familiar maple leaf and red-and-white colours of the Canadian flag.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada with five million people living in this multi-cultural and friendly city. It is also home to the CN Tower, the second highest tower in the whole world.

Looking at the postcard I can only imagine the vibrant city and the people of different backgrounds and culture who migrated to this country. With the influx of migrants, the demand for housing, rental or owned, must be high that there is also a high demand for work for toronto contractors. I am saying this because the sender has indicated that he works in the construction industry, basically handling toronto home additions in the company where he is working.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Postcard Perfect 035: The New Zealand Experience

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From the capital city of Wellington on the north island of New Zealand comes this fantastic postcard. This is also my tribute to the NZ All Blacks, this year's Rugby World Cup champions :)

Experience New Zealand, a slogan enticing tourists of all ages to a more personalised experience of what NZ has to offer.
Postcard ID: NZ - 6305

Imagine the beautiful setting where the Hollywood movie Lord of the Rings series was filmed, the mecca for thrill-seekers (bungee and base jumping, etc.), the haka, the rich culture, and more! Who doesn't want to Experience New Zealand?

Dubbed as the country of wonderful contrasts, NZ has cosmopolitan cities, outdoor adventures and magnificent scenery to explore and experience.
Images by Freepik