31 May 2010

FDC from Hong Kong: Fujian Tulou

Fujian Tulou is "the most extraordinary type of Chinese rural dwellings" of the Hakka and others in the mountainous areas in southwestern Fujian, China. They were mostly built between the 12th and the 20th centuries.

A tulou is usually a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 80 families. Smaller interior buildings are often enclosed by these huge peripheral walls which can contain halls, storehouses, wells and living areas, the whole structure resembling a small fortified city.

The fortified outer structures are formed by compacting earth, mixed with stone, bamboo, wood and other readily-available materials, to form walls up to six feet (≈2m) thick. Branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips are often laid in the wall as additional reinforcement. The end result is a well lit, well-ventilated, windproof and earthquake-proof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer. Tulous usually have only one main gate, guarded by 4-5 inch thick wooden doors reinforced with an outer shell of iron plate. The top level of these earth buildings has gun holes for defensive purposes.

30 May 2010

National flag of Cuba

The flag of Cuba was adopted on May 20, 1902, containing a field with three blue stripes and two white stripes, and a red equilateral triangle at the hoist with a white 5-pointed star. The flag of Cuba was designed in 1848 for the liberation movement, which sought independence from Spain. The flag was briefly hoisted in 1850 at Cardenas but was not officially adopted until 1902, when independence was granted by the United States.

The Cuban flag was created by Narciso López in 1849, and put together by Emilia Teurbe Tolón. The Cuban flag's origins date from 1849, when various movements to liberate Cuba from Spanish rule emerged, mainly among Cuban exiles in the United States. Anti-Spanish Cuban exiles under the leadership of Narciso López adopted a flag suggested by the poet Miguel Teurbe Tolón. His design incorporates three blue stripes, representing the three parts that the country was divided during the independence wars, central, occidental, and oriental areas of the country, and two white stripes symbolizing the purity of the patriotic cause. The red triangle (triangle of masonic significance) stands for the blood shed to free the nation, which is placed where the star is, symbolizing the sky turned red from the blood shed in battle. The white star in the triangle stands for independence. López carried this flag in battle at Cárdenas (1850) and Playitas (1851). Although Lopez was not victorious, this was the first instance of the flag being raised in Cuba. At the first independence war, the Ten Years' War, there was another flag in use, the "flag of Yara" also called "flag of La Demajagua"; while the one with the triangle and the stripes became the official Cuban flag, the Yara one is hoisted "wherever the legislators of the Cuban people meet"; in particular it is displayed, along with the national flag, in the National Assembly

Is Helsinki crowded?

Is Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, crowded? I don't think so, because I live in Shanghai, a city with a population of 20,000,000.

29 May 2010

Exploring the Expo 2010 in Shanghai (1)

I major in German and now study in Shanghai. Last week I went to visit the Expo Park with my mother and here are some photos.

The park is devided into two big parts by the Huangpu River:Area A,B and C parts are in Pudong und Area D and E in Puxi. There are eight entrances and we chose the Gate 1. On the morning we visited these Pavillions mainly showing the companies.

I sent some covers just in this small office.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne (currently Cardinal Joachim Meisner), and is under the administration of the archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of German Catholicism in particular, of Gothic architecture and of the continuing faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an "exceptional work of human creative genius". It is visited by 20 thousand people every day.

Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Minster, completed 10 years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir of the cathedral, measured between the piers, also holds the distinction of having the largest height to width ratio of any Medieval church, 3.6:1, exceeding even Beauvais Cathedral which has a slightly higher vault.

Specially there is also a picture of this cathedral on the postage label.

28 May 2010

Cover from Philippines

It's a great pity that this cover is not a real posted FDC, because the dates on the first issue cancellation and on the postmark are different. I just prefer FDC's sent on the first issue day und these with the whole sets on them.

27 May 2010

Moose country, Upper Peninsula

The moose (North America) or common European elk (Europe), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a "twig-like" configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates.

In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada, most of Alaska, much of New England and upstate New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, Northeastern Minnesota, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Isolated moose populations have been verified as far south as the mountains of Utah and Colorado. In 1978, a few breeding pairs were introduced in western Colorado, and the state's moose population is now more than 1,000. In Europe, moose are found in large numbers throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States. They are also widespread through Russia. Small populations remain in Poland (Biebrza Nat. Park), Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Moose were successfully introduced on Newfoundland in 1904 where they are now the dominant ungulate, and somewhat less successfully on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ten moose were introduced in Fiordland, New Zealand, in 1910. At one time this population was thought to have died off, but sightings have been reported, and in fact moose hair samples were found by a New Zealand scientist in 2002. In 2008, two moose were reintroduced into the Scottish Highlands. There are plans for dozens more of the animals to be shipped to Scotland by spring 2010

26 May 2010

Hello from Luxembourg

Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. Luxembourg has a population of over half a million people in an area of approximately 2,586 square kilometres (999 sq mi).

Luxembourg is a parliamentary representative democracy with a constitutional monarch; it is ruled by a Grand Duke. It is the world's only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy. The country has a highly developed economy, with the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita in the world as per IMF and WB. Its historic and strategic importance dates back to its founding as a Roman era fortress site and Frankish count's castle site in the Early Middle Ages. It was an important bastion along the Spanish Road when Spain was the principal European power influencing the whole western hemisphere and beyond in the 16th–17th centuries.

Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, NATO, OECD, the United Nations, Benelux, and the Western European Union, reflecting the political consensus in favour of economic, political, and military integration. The city of Luxembourg, the capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the European Union.

Luxembourg lies on the cultural divide between Romance Europe and Germanic Europe, borrowing customs from each of the distinct traditions. Luxembourg is a trilingual country; German, French and Luxembourgish are official languages. Although a secular state, Luxembourg is predominantly Roman Catholic.

25 May 2010

Bournemouth, England

Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the county of Dorset, England. The town has a population of 163,444 according to the 2001 Census, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth. With Poole and Christchurch it forms the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a total population of approximately 400,000.Founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, Bournemouth's growth accelerated with the arrival of the railway, becoming a recognised town in 1870. Originally part of Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Since 1997 the town has been administered by a unitary authority, meaning that it has autonomy from Dorset County Council.

Bournemouth's location on the south coast of England has made it a popular destination for tourists. The town is a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centre and financial companies that include: Liverpool Victoria and Standard Life Healthcare.

24 May 2010

Cover of China: Sending a cover from the Expo Park

I went to the Expo Park with my mother last Thursday and sent a cover on Expo there in a post office.

This pre-paid envolope was issued last year and I sticked a set of two stamps of the Expo logo and "Haibao". It costs 4.20 Yuan to send a covil registered letter within 20g here in China, so I affixed another definitive with a face value of 60 Fen. There I also sent some covers to my friends in Germany, France, Singapore, Brazil, Italy and Hong Kong. Hope all of you can get them soon!

23 May 2010

White House, Moscow

Do you know that there is also a White House in the capital of Russia?

The White House, also known as the Russian White House, is a government building in Moscow. It was designed by the architects Dmitry Chechulin and P. Shteller. Construction started in 1965 and ended in 1981. Overall design follows Chechulin's 1934 draft of the Aeroflot building. The White House was pictured on a 50 kopeck stamp in 1991, honoring the resistance to the failed coup attempt of 1991. The building stood damaged for some time after the 1993 crisis, and the black burns became famous, so much so that it became tradition for newlyweds to be photographed in front of its damaged facade. It was shown in the seventh Police Academy movie, "Mission to Moscow". The reformed parliament, known thereafter by its Tsarist era title of Duma, was elected in 1994 and moved to another building on Moscow's Okhotny Ryad. The renovated White House now houses the Russian government. An inscription at the base of the tower reads, "House of the Government of the Russian Federation."

19 May 2010

Altar mound in Kernavė

Kernavė was a medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and today is a tourist attraction and an archeological site (population 318, 1999). It is located in the Širvintos district municipality located in southeast Lithuania. A Lithuanian state cultural reserve was established in Kernavė in 2003. Kernavė is situated near the bend of the Neris and the Pajauta valley, next to the area of historic hillfort mounds, piliakalnis.

Kernavė is situated on the right bank of the river Neris, on the upper Neris terrace. The distance to Širvintos is 21 kilometres, to Vilnius - 35 km. It is close to the Vilnius-Kaunas (18 km) and Vilnius-Panevėžys (17 km) highways. It is possible to travel to Kernavė from Vilnius by the river Neris. Kernavė is at the center of one of the Lithuanian districts. The southern part of the town borders on a nature reservation.

18 May 2010

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611. It was the seat of the Tsugaru clan, a 47,000 koku tozama daimyō clan who ruled over Hirosaki Domain, Mutsu Province, in what is now central Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Hirosaki Castle measures 612 meters east-west and 947 meters north-south. Its grounds are divided into six concentric baileys, which were formerly walled and separated by moats. It is unusual in that its Edo period donjon and most of its outline remains intact. Noted historian and author Shiba Ryōtarō praised it as one of the "Seven Famous Castles of Japan" in his travel essay series Kaidō wo Yuku.

The current donjon of the castle was completed in 1811. It is a three-story building with three roofs, and a height of 14.4 meters. The design is smaller than early Edo-period varieties of donjons, and it was built on a corner of the inner bailey on the site of a yagura, rather than the stone base of the original donjon. The small size was partly due to the restricted finances of the domain towards the end of the Edo period, but its location and design were also intended to alleviate concerns which might be raised by the Tokugawa shogunate should a larger structure be built. At present, it is a separate standing structure; however, prior to 1896 it had an attached gatehouse. The donjon is surrounded by three surviving yagura from the Edo period, on its second bailey, and five surviving gates in the walls of its second and third baileys. All of these structures, including the donjon itself, are National Important Cultural Properties.

The surrounding Hirosaki Park around the castle grounds is one of Japan's most famous cherry blossom spots. Over a million people enjoy the park's 2600 trees during the sakura matsuri when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, usually during the Japanese Golden Week holidays in the end of April and beginning of May

The USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial, located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oʻahu was the action that led to United States involvement in World War II.

The memorial, dedicated in 1962 and visited by more than one million people annually, spans the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. Historical information about the attack, boat access to the memorial, and general visitor services are available at the associated USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, opened in 1980 and operated by the National Park Service. The sunken remains of the battleship were declared a National Historic Landmark on 5 May 1989.

17 May 2010

FDC from India: Muthuramalinga Sethupathy

Muthuramalinga Sethupathy was born on 30 March 1760 at Ramanathapuram to Shri Nerunchithevar and Muthuthiruvirayee Nachiyar.The infant prince , the last Marava ruler, was crowned when he was only 72 days old by his uncle, the King of Ramanthapuram in 1760. His mother acted as Regent and took care of him and ruled over the Kingdom on his behalf, assisted by some wise ministers.

16 May 2010

Cienfuegos, Cuba

This is a second card sent by Osmany from his hometown Cienfuegos, Cuba. Many thanks!

Theaterplatz of Dresden

Dresden's Theaterplatz is a beautiful square framed by some of the city's most important landmarks such as the Zwinger Palace, the Hofkirche and the Semper Opera House. The most prominent building at the mostly pedestrianized square is the Semper Opera House, originally known as the Hoftheater, hence the name of the square. A first version of the opera house was built in the 17th century, but was replaced by a new, grander structure between 1838 and 1841. After it was destroyed by fire the opera house was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century.

15 May 2010

Minsk, Belarus

Minsk is the capital and largest city in Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers. Minsk is also a headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As the national capital, Minsk has a special administrative status in Belarus and is also the administrative centre of Minsk voblast (province) and Minsk raion (district). It has a population of 1,830,000 inhabitants (2008). An urban area that includes about thirty satellite cities (e.g. Krupki) holds 3,000,000.

The earliest references to Minsk date to the 11th century (1067), when it was a provincial city within the principality of Polotsk. In 1242, Minsk became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and it received its town privileges in 1499. From 1569, it was a capital of the Minsk Voivodship in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was annexed by Russia in 1793, as a consequence of the Second Partition of Poland. From 1919–1991, Minsk was the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Wintry Hangzhou

Hangzhou is a sub-provincial city located in the Yangtze River Delta in the People's Republic of China, and the capital of Zhejiang province. Located 180 kilometres (112 mi) southwest of Shanghai, as of 2004 the entire Hangzhou Region or Prefecture-level city had a registered population of 6.4 million people. The urban agglomeration of the Hangzhou metropolitan area has a resident population of 3.9319 million as of 2003, of which 2.6367 million are permanent residents. There are 1.91 million residents in the six urban core districts.

As one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, Hangzhou is also well-known for its beautiful natural scenery, with the West Lake as the most well-known location.

Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur

Petaling Street is a Chinatown located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is infamous for pirated clothes and accessories along with bootleg DVDs and CDs. Petaling Street however does not exclusively offer pirated products. Haggling is a common sight here and the place is usually crowded with locals as well as tourists.

The area has dozens of restaurants and food stalls, serving local favourites such as Hokkien mee, ikan bakar (barbecued fish), asam laksa and curry noodles. Traders here are mainly Chinese but there are also Indian, Malay, and Bangladeshi traders.

14 May 2010

FDC from France: Abbé Pierre

L'Abbé Pierre, GOQ (born Henri Marie Joseph Grouès; 5 August 1912–22 January 2007) was a French Catholic priest, member of the Resistance during World War II, and deputy of the Popular Republican Movement (MRP). He founded in 1949 the Emmaus movement, which has the goal of helping poor and homeless people and refugees. Abbé means abbot in French, and is also used as a courtesy title given to Catholic priests in French-speaking countries. He was one of the most popular figures in France, but had his name removed from such polls after some time.

He was born in Lyon, and Eric sent this FDC just right in this city. On the cover he affixed a definitive and a ATM-label besides the Abbé Pierre piece.

Old town of Bruges

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country.

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is egg-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge ("Seabruges" in literal translation). The city's total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as "The Venice of the North". Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time it was the "chief commercial city" of the world. Bruges is also home to the College of Europe.Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m (401.25 ft), making it one of the world's highest brick towers/buildings. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo's only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime. Bruges' most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis.

Many thanks to my Belgian friend Manuel for this nice card sent from his hometown Bruges (Brugge)!

13 May 2010

Pilies Street, Vilnius

Pilies Street is one of the main streets in the Old Town of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It is rather a short street, running from Cathedral Square to the Town Hall Square.

Out of several locations across Vilnius used by market traders to sell the wares of folk artists, Pilies Street is the most popular. It has a natural advantage over the Town Hall Square as the street is generally busy and less likely to be interrupted by the political or cultural events commonly held at the Town Hall. Many people visit the street to buy gifts at Christmas or before going abroad to visit friends. The market is also popular with souvenir hunters. Souvenir shops offer amberware and amber jewelry as well as linen clothes. The street is also known for the Kaziukas Fair, when folk artists from all four corners of Lithuania gather here to display and sell their latest merchandise.

Speaking of festivals, if something is being celebrated in Vilnius, Pilies Street is usually an excellent vantage point - most processions will make their way through here at some point. This is true whatever the festival – be it Christmas, Easter, the day of Restoration of Independence, or just a spontaneous celebration following a major win for the Lithuanian basketball team.

12 May 2010

University of Oxford

A card shows the University of Oxford! Just looking forward to another one from Cambridge.

The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University, or simply Oxford), located in the English city of Oxford, is the oldest surviving university in the English-speaking world and is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Although the exact date of foundation remains unclear, there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century.The University grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. In post-nominals the University of Oxford is typically abbreviated as Oxon. (from the Latin Oxoniensis), although Oxf is sometimes used in official publications.

After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge, where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two "ancient universities" have many common features and are often jointly referred to as Oxbridge. In addition to cultural and practical associations as a historic part of British society, the two universities have a long history of rivalry with each other.

Most undergraduate teaching at Oxford is organised around weekly essay-based tutorials at self-governing colleges and halls, supported by lectures and laboratory classes organised by University faculties and departments. League tables consistently list Oxford as one of the UK's best universities, and Oxford consistently ranks in the world's top 10.The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-led British universities, the Coimbra Group, the League of European Research Universities, International Alliance of Research Universities and is also a core member of the Europaeum. For more than a century, it has served as the home of the Rhodes Scholarship, which brings students from a number of countries to study at Oxford as postgraduates.