Saturday, 29 November 2014


One more post for today. I received my first ever written and stamped postcard from Barbados earlier this year, thanks to Lindsay. I did have an unwritten postcard from Barbados from a swap earlier and I'm actually wondering if I received it from the same person as according to the description I put on my Flickr (that card is unwritten), it was also sent by Lindsay in Canada. Hmmmm...?!

Anyway, this is the card I received earlier this year, showing historic Bridgetown. Bridgetown (metropolitan pop 110,000 (2014)) is the capital and largest city of the nation of Barbados. Formerly, the Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael. Bridgetown is sometimes locally referred to as "The City", but the most common reference is simply "Town".

The Bridgetown port, found along Carlisle Bay lies on the southwestern coast of the island. Parts of the Greater Bridgetown area (as roughly defined by the Ring Road Bypass or more commonly known as the ABC Highway), sit close to the borders of the neighbouring parishes Christ Church and St. James. The Grantley Adams International Airport for Barbados, is located 16 kilometres southeast of Bridgetown city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. While there is no longer local municipal government, it is governed as a political constituency within the national Parliament. During the short lived 1950s-1960s Federation of the British West Indian Territories, Bridgetown was one of three capital cities within the region being considered to be the Federal capital of region.

The present day location of the city was established by English settlers in 1628 following a prior settlement under the authority of Sir William Courten at St. James Town. Bridgetown is a major West Indies tourist destination, and the city acts as an important financial, informatics, convention centre, and cruise ship port of call in the Caribbean region. On 25 June 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison were added as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 kilometres in width, covering an area of 432 square kilometres. It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometres east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometres north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.

In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is ranked as a leading tourist destination. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (after Canada) and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

...and this is the other card of Barbados that I have, showing a beach in Batsheba, Saint Joseph. The parish of Saint Joseph is a parish of Barbados on the eastern side of the island. The parish is home to two of the more notable botanic gardens in the country - Flower Forest and Andromeda Gardens. Parts of St. Joseph are also referred to as the Scotland District, a reference to the appearance of the landscape. Bathsheba is the main town in the parish. One of the highest points in the island is Chimborazo in Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is also the home of the "Soup Bowl" where international surfing competitions are held.

Luang Prabang, Laos

This was a bit of a surprise in my mailbox back in 2009... A postcard from Laos! ...and with such a small postcard ID as well. It's just a shame that the card wasn't actually mailed from Laos but from Thailand, it would've been nice to get a stamp and cancellation from Laos as well.. :/ Incidentally, a friend of mine in Finland received a postcard from the same person around the same time! What are the chances?!?

If I understood the description on the back of the card, this is a photo from a Lao New Year's festival ('Pii Mai', taking place in April.

Luang Prabang is a city located in north central Laos, at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong River about 300 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The population of the city is about 50,000. The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. It had also been known by the ancient name of Chiang Thong. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Its population was estimated to be around 6.5 million in 2012.

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three kingdoms. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms — Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak — uniting to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Laos is a single-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People's Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40% of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.


My first ever postcard from Kuwait! I was so happy to receive this one :)

If you can't read the text on the card, it says "Throughout the Arabian Peninsular, beautifully-wrought, heavy wooden doors once defended from marauding enemies." 

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is an Arab country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2013, Kuwait has a population of 4 million people.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kuwait was a prosperous center of trade and commerce. Starting in the early 20th century, its regional economic importance declined, and by 1934 Kuwait had lost its prominence in long-distance trade. Kuwait's economy was devastated by several trade blockades. During World War I, the British Empire imposed a blockade against Kuwait because its ruler supported the Ottoman Empire. Following the Kuwait–Najd War of 1919–1920, Saudi Arabia maintained a trade blockade against the country from 1923 until 1937. In 1990, Kuwait was annexed by Iraq. The Iraqi occupation came to an end after military intervention by United States-led forces.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliamentary system. The country ranks highly in regional comparisons of national performance, including protection of civil liberties, press freedom and judicial independence. Kuwait is frequently ranked as having the freest press in the Arab world. The country is currently attempting to diversify its oil-reliant economy. In recent years, the hostile relationship between the elected parliament and government has prevented the implementation of economic reforms.


Andorra is one of those countries where I only have about three cards from. I just realised I hadn't posted any here yet so here are a couple of them. The first one is from a swap, the second one from a RR on the Postcrossing forum.

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Created under a charter in A.D. 988, the present Principality was formed in A.D. 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.

Andorra is a prosperous country, mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and because of its status as a tax haven, although it is in the process of reforming its tax regime. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. The people of Andorra have the 2nd highest human life expectancy at birth in the world – 84 years.

Andorra has two postal systems, the Spanish and the French one. These stamps are from the Spanish post...

I'm not sure of the exact location of this place, it only says 'Valls d'Andorra' on the back of the card.

... and these stamps are from the French post.

Russia map

I just realised I haven't posted any Russian postcards here for a while so here's one, a lovely map card I received from a swap a couple of years ago.

Not much to say about this card, except that I really like it. The background pattern is really pretty as well!

Kronborg Castle, Denmark

Another card from a swap with Chris in Denmark last year.

Kronborg is a castle and stronghold in the town of Helsingør, Denmark. Immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list (2000).

The castle is situated on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Zealand at the narrowest point of the Øresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden. In this part, the sound is only 4 km wide, hence the strategic importance of maintaining a coastal fortification at this location commanding one of the few outlets of the Baltic Sea.

The castle's story dates back to a stronghold, Krogen, built by King Eric VII in the 1420s. Along with the fortress Kärnan, Helsingborg on the opposite coast of Øresund, it controlled the entranceway to the Baltic Sea. From 1574 to 1585 King Frederick II had the medieval fortress radically transformed into a magnificent Renaissance castle. The main architects were the Flemings Hans Hendrik van Paesschen and Anthonis van Obbergen, whereas the sculptural work was coordinated by Gert van Groningen. In 1629 a fire destroyed much of the castle, but King Christian IV subsequently had it rebuilt. The castle also has a church within its walls. In 1658 Kronborg was besieged and captured by the Swedes who took many of its valuable art treasures as war booty. In 1785 the castle ceased to be a royal residence and was converted into barracks for the army. The army left the castle in 1923, and after a thorough renovation it was opened to the public.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Talofofo River, Guam

One more card for today, and another new country/territory to my collection! I received this card from a facebook swap with Sayaka, thank you so much for offering to send me this!

Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of seventeen Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations. The island's capital is Hagåtña (formerly rendered Agana). Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.

The Chamorros, Guam's indigenous people, first inhabited the island approximately 4,000 years ago. The island has a long history of European colonialism, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan's Spanish expedition landing on March 6, 1521. The first colony was established in 1668 by Spain with the arrival of settlers including Padre San Vitores, a Catholic missionary. For more than two centuries Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons that crossed the Pacific annually. The island was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered to the United States during the Spanish–American War and later formally ceded as part of the Treaty of Paris.

Guam is the largest island in Micronesia and was the only U.S.-held island in the region before World War II. Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was occupied for two and a half years. During the occupation, the people of Guam were subjected to acts that included forced labor, torture, beheadings, and rape, and were forced to adopt the Japanese culture. Guam was subject to fierce fighting when U.S. troops recaptured the island on July 21, 1944, a date commemorated every year as Liberation Day.

Today, Guam's economy is supported by its principal industry, tourism, which is composed primarily of visitors from Japan. Guam's second largest source of income is the United States Armed Forces.

Tatev monastery, Armenia

This is my first ever written and stamped postcard from Armenia! I never really expected to ever receive one so I'm really happy to have this one. ...and Armenian cancellations look pretty cool, too!

The Tatev monastery is a 9th-century monastery located on a large basalt plateau near the Tatev village in Syunik Province in southeastern Armenia. The term "Tatev" usually refers to the monastery. The monastic ensemble stands on the edge of a deep gorge of the Vorotan River. Tatev is known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual and cultural activity.

In the 14th and 15th centuries Tatev Monastery hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev, which contributed to the advancement of science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting. Scholars of the Tatev University contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.

The Tatev monastery is also a tentative Unesco site.

Saudi Arabia

This is one of my only postcards received from Saudi Arabia. ...and I was lucky to receive this one - Ellen, who I swapped with, had to resend this as the first card never turned up, and the same happened to a lot of cards she sent at the time. I can't even imagine how gutted she must have been; I hate it when that happens!

The description on the back of this card says this is "an old farm boundary, Ughdah - Hail". Now, I tried to find out if Ughdah is a place but had no luck so I don't really know where in Saudi Arabia this place is...

Vegetable market, Vietnam

Another swap card from earlier this year, this time from the lovely Jo in Vietnam.

I have no idea whereabouts in Vietnam this particular market is located, but I do like this picture. I love postcards depicting markets in general as they tend to be so colourful and the atmosphere looks so lively. ...and to be able to cook with so much fresh produce... mmmmm...! Vietnamese cuisine fascinates me, I'd love to try more Vietnamese dishes but unfortunately there are no Vietnamese restaurants in my area. My experiences are limited to having had summer rolls and pho once. I really enjoyed both and have actually tried to make summer rolls at home although I'm not sure how authentic the end result was. It was really tasty, though!

Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

I received this lovely postcard from a swap earlier this year. There was a special Postcrossing cancellation available in Prague and I was lucky enough to get one on this card. :)

Kutná Hora is a city situated in the Central Bohemian Region of Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic.

The town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260 German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property. The name of the mountain is said to have derived from the monks' cowls (the Kutten) or from the word mining (kutání in old Czech). Under Abbot Heidenreich the territory greatly advanced due to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century.

The earliest traces of silver have been found dating back to the 10th century, when Bohemia already had been in the crossroads of long-distance trade for many centuries. Silver dinars have been discovered belonging to the period between 982–995 in the settlement of Malín, which is now a part of Kutná Hora.

From the 13th to 16th centuries the city competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Braslau Lakes National Park, Belarus

A rather lovely official I received from Belarus earlier this year. Speaking of official Postcrossing, I think I'll be taking a break from it for the time being. I might go back if it eventually goes back to the "send a postcard and receive one back" model it used to have, but I don't like the way it is at the moment, and has been like that for a while. It seems to be designed for people who have cards travelling all the time but they don't seem to care about those of us who would only like to send cards occasionally. For over a year now, every time I've sent cards I've ended up receiving way more cards back than the number of cards I've sent. It wouldn't be such an issue but then it means I won't receive anything until the numbers are even, and what with my not being able to afford to send that many, it takes ages to get the numbers even. ...and once that happens and I send cards out again, the same happens AGAIN. It's like a vicious circle and I'm not impressed. I don't like to receive my cards in advance. It's like receiving Christmas presents in July and that wouldn't be much fun either. I'd like to send maybe a couple of cards a month and then hopefully receive a couple of cards as well, but it just hasn't been like that for ages now, it doesn't work like that. I think it's a bit misleading for Postcrossing to say "send a postcard and receive a postcard back". If they would at least give an option of opting out of receiving tons of cards in advance, but they don't seem to care. It's a strange system at the moment really, with people in some countries receiving too many cards while in other countries (mainly Russia I think?) people are not receiving enough. I hope they'll find a solution eventually but until that happens, I'll be sticking to sending cards to friends and doing occasional private swaps and maybe participating in some RRs and tags from time to time (although I might try to even out the gap between my sent and received a little bit as well, just in case). It's a shame because the idea behind the official Postcrossing site is so lovely.

Braslau Lakes is one of the four national parks in Belarus. The National Park was set up in September 1995. It is a unique ecosystem with a number of lakes and a large area of pine forests. It has a total area of about 700 km² (270 square miles). This includes 30 lakes. Three largest lakes are Dryvyaty (fifth largest in the country), Snudy (ninth largest in the country) and Strusta (sixteenth largest in the country). On this card you can see the Catholic Church of the Heart of Jesus in Braslau District.