Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Greetings from Canada

One more postcard for today - Greetings from Canada. :) This one is from a swap with Susannah in Canada. Thank you so much!!

What to say about this one? I had a bit of a discussion with Susannah about maple syrup - I asked her for suggestions for what to use it in. I'll have to try some of her suggestions; I think so far I've only ever had maple syrup a couple of times in my life!

village store, Malawi

I'm not usually all that much into unwritten postcards, but I do like this one from Malawi. I love this sort of views, plus it's not like the likelihood of ever receiving a written and stamped postcard from Malawi is very big.

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 with an estimated population of 16,777,547 (July 2013 est.). Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa".

The area of Africa now known as Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century. Centuries later in 1891 the area was colonized by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, became part of the semi-independent Central African Federation (CAF). The Federation was dissolved in 1963, and in 1964, Nyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi. Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he lost an election. Prof. Peter Mutharika is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organisations.

Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent. Malawi has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.

Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labour force and government expenditures. There is a diverse population of native peoples, Asians and Europeans, with several languages spoken and an array of religious beliefs. Although there was periodic regional conflict fuelled in part by ethnic divisions in the past, by 2008 it had diminished considerably and the concept of a Malawian nationality had re-emerged. Malawian cultural practices and Malawian cuisine are rich in local, southern African, and overseas influences, as well as this, they have many peculiar forms of cuisine found no where else. These include eating ants, honey soaked beetles and a type of native fish which is dried, baked in spices and then soaked in goat milk and various leaves for up to two days creating a type of tea flavored jerky, though this is only prevalent in rural areas within small communities.

Meknes, Morocco

A wonderful Unesco card from Morocco that I received last year. I was supposed to receive another card from the same person as well but that never arrived.. I'm kind of wondering whether they just forgot to send it or what happened there, but I wasn't very happy... :/ Anyway, Meknes is one of the so-called "King Cities" in Morocco.

The Historic City of Meknes has exerted a considerable influence on the development of the civil and military architecture (the kasbah) and works of art. Founded in 1061 A.D. by the Almoravids as a military stronghold, its name originates from the great Berber tribe Meknassa who dominated eastern Morocco as far back as the Tafilalet in the 8th century. Geographically, it is remarkably located in the Saïss Plain between the Middle Atlas and the pre-rifan massif of Zerhoun. It contains the vestiges of the Medina that bears witness to ancient socio-economic fabric and the imperial city created by the Sultan Moulay Ismail (1672-1727). It is the presence today of this historic city containing the rare remains and important monuments located within a rapidly changing urban environment that gives this urban heritage its universal value. The two ensembles are surrounded by a series of ramparts that separate them from one another. In addition to its architectural interest of being built in the Hispano-Moorish style, Meknes is of particular interest as it represents the first great work of the Alaouite dynasty, reflecting the grandeur of its creator. It also provides a remarkable approach of urban design, integrating elements of both Islamic and European architecture and town planning.

Behind the high defensive walls, pierced by nine monumental gates, are key monuments including twenty-five mosques, ten hammams, palaces, vast graneries, vestiges of fondouks (inns for merchants) and private houses, testimonies to the Almoravid, Merinid and Alaouite Periods.

Bohinj, Slovenia

Just a small update for today as I'll have to go out soon. Today's first card is another postcard I've received through 'Postcard United' (with the ID 'SVN-15'), a lovely view from Slovenia. I'm not entirely sure but I might have received the same postcard before through Postcrossing. I never posted it here, though, so here's the most recent one.

Bohinj is a 20 km long and 5 km wide basin within the Julian Alps, in the Upper Carniola region of northwestern Slovenia. It is traversed by the Sava Bohinjka river. Its main feature is the periglacial Lake Bohinj. Bohinj is part of the Municipality of Bohinj, the seat of which is Bohinjska Bistrica.

The Julian Alps are a mountain range of the Southern Limestone Alps that stretch from northeastern Italy to Slovenia, where they rise to 2,864 m at Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia and of the former Yugoslavia. They are named after Julius Caesar, who founded the municipium of Cividale del Friuli at the foot of the mountains. A large part of the Julian Alps is included in Triglav National Park. The second highest peak of the range, the 2,775m high Jôf di Montasio, lies in Italy. The Julian Alps cover an estimated 4,400 km² (of which 1,542 km² lies in Slovenia). They are located between Sava valley and Kanalska Dolina. They are divided into the Eastern and Western Julian Alps. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Torghatten, Norway

This gorgeous view from Norway had been in my favourites for quite a while so I was really excited to finally receive it earlier this week from Cathrine in Norway. Thank you so much!

Torghatten is a granite mountain on Torget island in Brønnøy municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is known for its characteristic hole, or natural tunnel, through its center. It is possible to walk up to the tunnel on a well-prepared path, and through it on a natural path.

According to legend, the hole was made by the troll Hestmannen while he was chasing the beautiful girl Lekamøya. As the troll realized he would not get the girl, he released an arrow to kill her, but the troll-king of Sømna threw his hat into the arrow's path to save her. The hat turned into the mountain with a hole in the middle. Also, Felice Vinci has linked the legends about Torghatten to the Homeric myth of Polyphemus.

The tunnel is 160 metres long, 35 metres wide, and 20 metres high. It was formed during the Scandinavian ice age. Ice and water eroded the looser rocks, while the harder ones in the mountain top have resisted erosion.

Paramaribo, Suriname

Late last year I discovered this new postcard exchange website called Postcard United. I thought I'd give it a try, I was hoping it could be an alternative to official Postcrossing which I've given up on for the time being as I kept receiving too many postcards through it. Well, I'm not too impressed with Postcard United. It seems too much like a carbon copy of Postcrossing for one thing. Also, I think there's something suspicious about the fact that you have to be registered and logged in to be able to see pretty much anything at all, and nowhere on the website does it say who's behind the project - no names are given. There's also no option of deleting your account. I'd like to do this and am pretty annoyed that you have to have your address there - there's not even an option to delete just your address! I might email them at some point to ask, but another person reported than when he asked Postcard United to delete his account, they refused to do it and wouldn't given give a proper reason as to why not. Also, nine of the postcards I've sent have been registered, but seven (!) are still 'travelling' and I'm not exactly holding my breath for those to ever be registered. ...and meanwhile I still keep receiving more postcards - I've now received 28 postcards through the site! How is that supposed to work?! Admittedly I *have* received some very nice postcards through the site, and I actually got my first ever written and stamped postcard from Suriname that way. Still, I would certainly NOT recommend the site - stick to Postcrossing who are a lot more open about everything as well.

This is the postcard I received through Postcard United. ...with a postcard ID 'SUR-66'. It's weird, at the time the UK ID's I was drawing were a lot lower than that, so Suriname at least used to be a more common country in this project than the UK! O_o

Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the northern coast of tropical South America. The original and highly characteristic street plan of the historic centre remains intact. Its buildings illustrate the gradual fusion of Dutch architectural influence with traditional local techniques and materials.

Suriname is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south.

Suriname was colonized by the English and the Dutch in the 17th century. In 1667 it was captured by the Dutch, who governed Suriname as Dutch Guiana until 1954. At that time it was designated as one of the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, next to the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles (dissolved in 2010). On 25 November 1975, the country of Suriname left the Kingdom of the Netherlands to become independent. A member of CARICOM, it is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country and has extensive trade and cultural exchange with the Caribbean nations.

At just under 165,000 km2, Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America. (French Guiana, while less extensive and populous, is an overseas department of France.) Suriname has a population of approximately 566,000, most of whom live on the country's north coast, where the capital Paramaribo is located. Suriname is a mostly Dutch-speaking country; Sranang, an English-based creole language, is a widely used lingua franca. It is the only independent entity in the Americas where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population.

I had received this postcard of Suriname a few years earlier, but it was mailed from the Netherlands.

South Africa map

A lovely South Africa map card I received some years ago. I still don't have too many postcards from South Africa...

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is a country located in Southern Africa. It has 2,798 kilometres of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. To the north lie the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 25th-most populous nation.

South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans, based on history. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language.

About 80 percent of South Africans are of black sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (white), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (coloured) ancestry. Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have had political representation in the country's constitutional democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is often referred to as the "Rainbow Nation," a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and later adopted by then-President Nelson Mandela as a metaphor to describe the country's newly developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. But the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalizing previous racial segregation. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists, Discriminatory laws began to be repealed or abolished from 1990 onwards.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialised country. Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa. But poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.

Greetings from Finland

Today's 'Greetings from' postcard comes from Finland. Another favourite of mine in this series, although I might be a little bit biased here... ;)

I do like the fact that Tove Jansson and saunas are mentioned! :D I really miss sauna, especially now that it's pretty chilly here still.

Year of the Goat, Indonesia

It's Year of the Sheep/Goat this year. I'm trying to collect these stamps from different countries again and have a pretty reasonable collection already. This one is from dear Shinta in Indonesia.

It seems like this year is the Year of Goat rather than Sheep in a lot of countries. I seem to remember someone saying this is because a goat is a higher status animal...??

I love the special cancellations! I wish you could get them in England, too, when sending regular postcards/letters, but it seems like you have to do some special arrangements to get them..?

The Pink Lotus, Vietnam

I have a soft spot for postcards from Vietnam as they so often depict people in what look like pretty everyday scenes. ...and I really like the colours in this one, too.

The stamps on this card are lovely as well! The theme of the RR this card came from was to fit as many stamps on the card as possible, and Jo certainly did that!

National Orchid Garden, Singapore

A lovely postcard from Singapore I received a couple of years ago. This is also a tentative Unesco site. :)

The National Orchid Garden, located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens, was opened on 20 October 1995 by Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been developed along a 3-Core Concept. The three Cores consist of Tanglin, which is the heritage core that retains the old favourites and rustic charms of the historic Gardens; Central, which is the tourist belt of the Gardens; and Bukit Timah, which is the educational and recreational zone. Each Core offers an array of attractions.

The Garden is located on the highest hill in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Providing a place for 60,000 orchid plants - consisting of 1000 species and more than 2,000 hybrids - is the three hectares of carefully landscaped slopes.

The design concept presenting the display of plants in four separate color zones: the spring zone with its prevailing colours of bright and lively shades of gold, yellow and creams; the summer zone with its major tones of strong reds and pinks; the autumn zone of matured shades; and the winter zone of whites and cool blues. A careful combination of selected trees, shrubs, herbs and orchids (mostly hybrids) with matching foliage and floral colours depicts the colour combination.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Market place, Surin, Thailand

Today's last card is from dear Heather. I love market scenes like this, so pretty and colourful!

This is an early morning scene at a market in Surin, a town in Thailand, capital of Surin province. It is the site of the annual Surin Elephant Round-up. As of 2000, Surin had a population of 41,582.

Heather mailed the card from Australia. I just love Australian stamps and these are no exception.