Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Hairat Khan Jahan Ali Nine Gambuj Mosque, Bangladesh

Today's last card is from a swap with Md. Imran in Bangladesh. Thank you so much, this is beautiful!

This is the Hairat Khan Jahan Ali Nine Gambuj Mosque. I have been trying to work out whether it's one of the mosques of the Unesco site 'Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat', but so far with no luck. If anyone here knows, please let me know, I would be really grateful!

Penang, Malaysia

I received this postcard from Matthew in Malaysia through the SouthEast Asia RR on the Postcrossing forum. I was honestly quite surprised to receive this - the value of the stamp is way above the rate of sending a postcard in Malaysia. It is lovely, though, thank you a million again, Matthew!

George Town (also less commonly spelt as Georgetown) is the capital and largest city of the state of Penang in Malaysia.

George Town is known as the city of condos and apartments in Malaysia like Singapore and Hong Kong. Trishaws and foreigners are also seen in Penang like in Malacca. The Hip Hop Open Air and Rapid Penang buses are the public transports for Penang. George Town is also the district capital of North East Penang Island.

Named after Britain's King George III, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island. The inner city has a population of 510,996 and the metropolitan area known as George Town Conurbation which consists of Jelutong, Sungai Pinang, Sungai Nibong, Glugor, Air Itam, Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong have a combined population of 2,251,792, making it the second largest metropolitan area in Malaysia.

The settlement was declared a city in 1957 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2015, Penang island, on which George Town is located, was also awarded city status.

The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Khoo Kongsi is a large Chinese clanhouse with elaborate and highly ornamented architecture. It is located in Cannon Square in the heart of the oldest part of the city of George Town, hidden amidst the crowded gridiron of terrace houses and shophouses.

Greetings from Indonesia

I somehow ended up with two 'Greetings from' Indonesia cards. Ooops. I don't really mind, though, as they are both lovely - beautiful stamps and gorgeous decorations on the back. ^_^

I had to look up the symbol in the middle as I seem to remember there was initially a picture of a coconut tree there but it was changed. This is what I found, and I think it's pretty cool:  

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is the official national motto of Indonesia. The phrase is Old Javanese translated as "Unity in Diversity". It is inscribed in the Indonesian national symbol, Garuda Pancasila (written on the scroll gripped by the Garuda's claws), and is mentioned specifically in article 36A of the Constitution of Indonesia. The Garuda is a mythical bird and the mount of Lord Vishnu.

 It is a quotation from an Old Javanese poem Kakawin Sutasoma, written by Mpu Tantular during the reign of the Majapahit empire sometime in the 14th century, under the reign of King Rājasanagara, also known as Hayam Wuruk. Kakawin contains epic poems written in metres.

This poem is notable as it promotes tolerance between Hindus (especially Shivaites) and Buddhists.

...and the stamps on the second card:

Serra da Capivara National Park, Brazil

A nice Unesco card I received last month. My Unesco collection has been growing again and I reckon it would be even bigger if I could afford more swaps.

Serra da Capivara National Park is a national park in the Northeastern region of Brazil. It has many prehistoric paintings. The park was created to protect the prehistoric artifacts and paintings found there. It became a World Heritage Site in 1991. Its head archaeologist is Niède Guidon. Its best known archaeological site is Pedra Furada.

 It is located in northeast state of Piauí. It falls within the municipal areas of São Raimundo Nonato, São João do Piauí, Coronel José Dias and Canto do Buriti. It has an area of 1291.4 square kilometres. The area has the largest concentration of prehistoric sites in the Americas. Scientific studies confirm that the Capivara mountain range was densely populated in the pre-Columbian Era.

Craggaunowen Project, Quin, Co. Clare, Ireland

A lovely postcard I received from Ireland earlier this year.

Info from the back of the card:  

16th century Craggaunowen Castle has been restored and now contains part of the Hunt Collection of medieval art objects. In the grounds of the castle is a reconstructed Crannog - a Bronze Age lake dwelling and a ring fort - a reconstruction of a farmer's house of the 4th century. Archaeological date from many sources were used in the reconstruction and furnishing of both projects.

Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany

Getting *really* behind with this blog again so time for an update. ...although I should probably be outside instead as it's such a gorgeous, sunny, warm day. Uh oh...

Today's first card is from the Unesco tag on the Postcrossing forum.

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann, who lived nearby for the last eleven years of his life. It is located in the foothills of the Alps, in the municipality of Steingaden in the Weilheim-Schongau district, Bavaria, Germany.

It is said that, in 1738, tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour. This miracle resulted in a pilgrimage rush to see the sculpture. In 1740, a small chapel was built to house the statue but it was soon realized that the building would be too small for the number of pilgrims it attracted, and so Steingaden Abbey decided to commission a separate shrine. Many who have prayed in front of the statue of Jesus on the altar have claimed that people have been miraculously cured of their diseases, which has made this church even more of a pilgrimage site.

Construction took place between 1745 and 1754, and the interior was decorated with frescoes and with stuccowork in the tradition of the Wessobrunner School. "Everything was done throughout the church to make the supernatural visible. Sculpture and murals combined to unleash the divine in visible form".

There is a popular belief that the Bavarian government planned to sell or demolish the rococo masterpiece during the secularization of Bavaria at the beginning of the 19th century, and that only protests from the local farmers saved it from destruction. Available sources, however, document that the responsible state commission clearly advocated the continuation of Wies as a pilgrimage site, even in spite of economic objections from the abbot of Steingaden.

The Wieskirche was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983 and underwent extensive restoration between 1985 and 1991.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Burundi coffee

I don't get to add a new country to my postcard collection too often anymore. This is the most recent addition to that collection. I never really expected to receive a postcard from Burundi, so I was very happy to receive this one.

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also sometimes considered part of Central Africa. Burundi's capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least five hundred years. For more than 200 years, Burundi had an indigenous kingdom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany colonized the region. After the First World War and Germany's defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. The Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Their intervention exacerbated social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, which contributed to political unrest in the region. There was civil war in Burundi as it fought for independence in the middle of the twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic.

Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world. The country has suffered from warfare, corruption and poor access to education. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. According to a 2012 DHL Global Connectedness Index, Burundi is the least globalized of 140 surveyed countries.

 According to the Global Hunger Index of 2013, Burundi has an indicator ratio of 38.8, earning the nation the distinction of being the hungriest country in the world in terms of percentage.

 Burundi's largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for just over 30% of the GDP. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. The nation's largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi's exports. Other agricultural products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, and hides. Foreign Policy reports, Subsistence farming is highly relied upon, however due to large population growth and no coherent policies governing land ownership, many people don't have the resources to sustain themselves. In 2014, the average farm size was about one acre.

Bangkok, Thailand

I've received two postcards from Bangkok, Thailand, from Jobbo, who emailed me a while back and very kindly offered to contribute to this blog. Thank you so very much, Jobbo, for being so generous! If you have a website I can link to, do let me know!

Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population. Over 14 million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.

Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of Siam's (as Thailand used to be known) modernization during the later 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of Thailand's political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact among Thailand's politics, economy, education, media and modern society.

The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and is emerging as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The city is known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts. The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the world's top tourist destinations. It is named the most visited city in MasterCard's Global Destination Cities Index, and was named "World's Best City" for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Bangkok's rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have resulted in chronic and crippling traffic congestion. This in turn caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Four rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Greetings from Slovenia

Today's 'greetings from' postcard comes from Slovenia. I actually ended up with two of these. :D Well, it IS very pretty, the views in Slovenia look pretty amazing!

So there will be new countries to the series again soon... I'm going to have to give up trying to get them all sent from country of origin; there's no way I could find anyone from Tajikistan, and probably not from Pakistan either. I mean, I don't have a single postcard from Tajikistan so far, so how likely would it be to get this one sent from there?? I'll just get a blank one I think...

Mateja, who sent back my card, pointed out that Slovenia is the only country in the world with the world 'love' in the name. I quite like that! :) The other copy I received is from a swap with Kristijan who tells me that there are at least 48 dialects and subdialects in 7 dialect groups in Slovenia. Pretty impressive! I wonder how difficult it is to understand the different dialects...?!

Srebarna Nature Reserve, Bulgaria

Another Unesco card, this time from Bulgaria.

The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a nature reserve in northeastern Bulgaria (Southern Dobruja), near the village of the same name, 18 km west of Silistra and 2 km south of the Danube. It comprises Lake Srebarna and its surroundings and is located on the Via Pontica, a bird migration route between Europe and Africa.

The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a freshwater lake adjacent to the Danube and extending over 600 ha. It is the breeding ground of almost 100 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered. Some 80 other bird species migrate and seek refuge there every winter. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill.

Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska, Poland

My Unesco collection has been growing slowly. This is one of the cards I've received this year.

The wooden churches of southern Little Poland represent outstanding examples of the different aspects of medieval church-building traditions in Roman Catholic culture. Built using the horizontal log technique, common in eastern and northern Europe since the Middle Ages, these churches were sponsored by noble families and became status symbols. They offered an alternative to the stone structures erected in urban centres. The churches are located in Gorlice, Nowy Targ, Bochnia counties (Lesser Poland Voivodeship or Małopolskie), and Brzozów County (Subcarpathian Voivodeship) and are in Binarowa, Blizne, Dębno, Haczów, Lipnica Dolna, and Sękowa.

The wooden church style of the region originated in the late Medieval, the late sixteenth century, and began with Gothic ornament and polychrome detail, but because they were timber construction, the structure, general form, and feeling is entirely different from the gothic architecture or Polish Gothic (in stone or brick). Later construction show Rococo and Baroque ornamental influence. The form of these Roman Catholic churches is deeply influenced by the Greco-Catholic and Orthodox presence in the region. Some display Greek cross plans and onion domes, but the most interesting of the churches combine these features with the Roman forms with elongated naves and steeples. Other collections of wooden churches of the region are in the open-air museums in Sanok and Nowy Sącz.

Joshua Tree National Park, USA

I'm getting so behind with this blog. ...and I can't see things improving very soon. I thought I'd update now that I have the time AND inspiration. To be fair, most of the time I'm just not very organised.. :P

Today's first card is from the Vacation RR from earlier this year. I do have a bit of a soft spot for postcards showing national parks.

Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. Declared a U.S. National Park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act (Public Law 103-433), it had previously been a U.S. National Monument since 1936. It is named for the Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) native to the park. It covers a land area of 3,199.59 km2 – an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. A large part of the park, some 173,890 ha, is a designated wilderness area. Straddling the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.