Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nijmegen, Netherlands

I got this card from Desiree for the October "surprise me" round robin. Nijmegen, near the German border, is the oldest city in the Netherlands, having celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 2005. This card is a map of the center of the city. Nijmegen is famous for its International Four Day Marches, held every year in July since 1916. Participants walk 30, 40, or 50 kilometers each day for four days. Originally it was mainly a military event, but nowadays civilians greatly outnumber military participants. Those who finish are showered with gladiolus flowers and receive a medal. Naturally, there are also festivities to accompany the march, drawing as many as a million visitors to Nijmegen.

The stamp on the right features Petrus Plancius, a Dutch cartographer of the 1500s. I think this stamp was issued in 1996. The stamp on the left is dated 1992. Thank you Hans for the information on this stamp! (See comment below.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Malaysian Animals

I got this as a thank-you card from Lim a long time ago. It features the three "highly photographed" animals of Malaysia: Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), and orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus).

The Rhinoceros Hornbill is the state bird of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and represents the god of war for the native Dayak people. The hornbill on this card is male, which you can tell by his red eyes. Females have pale, whitish eyes. Hornbills lay their eggs inside a cavity in a tree. The female stays inside with the eggs, and the male uses mud to seal up the cavity except for a small hole through which the male brings the female and chicks food. When the chicks are ready to leave the nest, their parents chip the mud away again.

There are thought to be about 700 Malayan tigers in the wild, making it the most common tiger subspecies, however they are still endangered. According to wikipedia, there are usually 1.1 - 1.98 tigers per hundred square kilometers of rainforest. Well I've never seen 1.98 of a tiger... The tiger is a Malaysian national symbol, appearing on their coat of arms, symbolizing bravery and strength.

At one time, orangutans lived wild in Malaysia, but now the only wild orangutans live on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They are great apes, along with humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. "Orang utan" means "forest person" in Malay, and orangutans are indeed the most arboreal of all the apes, spending almost all their time in trees, and making a new nest of leaves and branches every night. Like other apes, orangutans have been shown to make, modify, and use tools in foraging for food.

Two bird stamps issued in 2005: the ochraceous bulbul (left) and the spotted dove (right).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Munich, Germany

This is the very first card I received on my second account, and I was tickled that it was from a place I've actually been to! Marienplatz is the central square of Munich, and the building in the center with the tower is the new city hall. Inside the clock tower, 43 bells and 32 life-size figures replay the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V and Renata of Lorraine on the top half, and the coopers' dance on the bottom. The tradition of the coopers' dance comes from an outbreak of the plague in the 16th century. Everyone hid inside their homes to avoid infection, until the coopers came out and danced to show that it was safe to emerge. Apparently.

Anyway, I had the chance to see this little play firsthand at Marienplatz in March 2009. I stayed for 3 nights at Wombats Hostel in Munich (right next to the train station) and went on the Wombats walking city-tour. Highly recommended to anyone travelling in Bavaria!

100 Eurocent stamp featuring the bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis).


I received this hand-drawn card as an official from Skuld in Taiwan.

Tongzhu lighthouse, issued in a set of 4 lighthouses in 1991!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bingie, Australia

This is a stamped card with a first-day-of-issue cancellation. Unlike the other stamped cards I've gotten from Australia, which only have a picture of the stamp on the front, this one has an actual stamp affixed to the front. The stamp is one of an issue of 8 "corrugated landscapes" from August 2009.

Magney House is located on the southern coast of New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Glenn Murcutt, an architect who works alone, almost solely on small, rural houses. He takes his inspiration from an Aboriginal proverb, "touch the earth lightly," and Magney House embodies Murcutt's philosophy by conserving energy and blending with the environment. The long, low roof and large windows are supposed to capitalize on natural sunlight. Rainwater is collected in the v-shaped roof and recycled for drinking and heating.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Russia With Love

This Russia map card came from mzk for the big groups midmonth RR. I'm actually not sure what the two photos are. In the middle is, of course, the Russian coat of arms, with its two main symbols a two-headed eagle, and a horseman slaying a dragon.

Four great stamps! This big one is textured and has a shiny gold frame. It is one of a set of five issued in 2002 commemorating Monasteries of Russian Orthodox Church. This one is the Pskov Cave Monastery of the Holy Assumption. The one on the bottom is the definitive showing a hare.

These two are from a 3-stamp set of 2009 representing regions of Russia. Left is Saratov Region, right is Chelyabinsk Region.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain. The back of the card says only "Barcelona: Diverse Aspects." Very descriptive...
But actually, it was pretty easy to Google my way to the answer for all four of these unique buildings.

1. On the left is the Barcelona Cathedral, constructed in the 14th century. It is dedicated to Saint Eulalia, martyred in the city during Roman times. She was supposedly exposed naked in the public square, and a miraculous spring snowfall shielded her from view.
2. Next is the Sagrada Familia, a huge, not-yet-complete, privately funded Catholic church designed by Spanish architect Anton Gaudi.
3. Second from right is another Gaudi masterpiece, the Casa Battló. The local name for this building is "house of bones." The turret-like thing, which looks kind of like the tip of an icing tube to me, may be supposed to be the sword of St. George (patron saint of Catalonia), plunged into the back of the dragon.
4. On the right is yet another Gaudi creation, Casa Milà

Apparently, "works of Anton Gaudi" is a UNESCO site, too!

The stamp is one of a set of three issued in 2010 representing renewable energy. This one shows biomass: organic matter used as fuel.

Montana, USA

An old ad card for skiing in Montana. My dad's friend Peggy sent it to me. She said she found it at the bottom of a box of computers someone had brought in to be recycled.

A stamp from 2008 featuring a sunflower.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gash-Barka, Eritrea

This card came as a private swap. Eee! It shows a Hidareb woman. Hidareb are one of the nine ethnic groups of Eritrea. They make up 2.5% of the population and inhabit the northwestern valley. Most of them are nomadic and travel great distances in search of pasture. So writes the sender of the card.

I could not find any information on the stamp.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Krtek, the little Czech mole

Krtek, or "Little Mole," is a cartoon character by Czech animator Zdeněk Miler. Krtek first appeared in a 1956 movie entitled "How the mole got his pants," and has been featured in many more films, both short and full-length, the most recent from 2002. Right now I only have two Krtek cards, but I hope to receive many more. The more I see of him, the cuter he gets. ^_^

How the mole got his pants:

The stamp, issued in 2010, features the Vancouver Paralympic Games.

Wuzhen, China

Wuzhen is a small town in Zhejiang Province. It is ranked first among six ancient towns south of the Yangtze River, and is heavily regulated to maintain its "traditionality" - no new businesses are allowed to be created. The town is crisscrossed with rivers and canals, earning it the nickname "the Venice of the east". This card shows "Ding-Sheng Bridge River" (according to the back of the card).

The stamp on the left is from a 1996 issue celebrating economic construction in Hong Kong; this particular stamp depicts the stock exchange of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese government in 1997, and the information given for this set of stamps proclaims "Hong Kong will maintain its prosperity and development after 1997 when it comes back to its motherland."
The stamp on the right is number 4 in a 1994 issue of the Dunhuang Murals, artwork of the Tang Dynasty. This one is called "Female Devil."

Friday, October 1, 2010

County Meath, Ireland

Trim is Ireland's largest castle. It was built over the course of 30 years by Hugh de Lacy, an English nobleman of the 12th century. Although the castle is 25 miles from the sea, in medieval times it was easily accessible by boat, as it overlooks the River Boyne. The then-owners of the castle sold it to the Irish government in 1993, and after six million euro worth of restoration, it was opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 2000. Part of the movie Braveheart was also filmed here.

My roommate (who lived in Ireland for a while) says she thinks she saw Trim Castle from a bus once. "But you can't swing a cat in Ireland without hitting a castle," she says.

The "Wild Flowers of Ireland" definitive for the overseas rate, depicting the sea aster (Aster tripolium).