7 Aug 2011

Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos is a small island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Greece. Skiathos is the westernmost island in the Northern Sporades group of islands. The mainland of Greece and Magnesia lie to the west, while the island of Skopelos lies to the east. The name of the island dates back to ancient times. The Municipality of Skíathos includes the islands of Tsougria and Tsougriaki, and of the islets of Maragos, Arkos, Troulonisi and Aspronisi. Total land area of the island is 50 km². The major settlement on the island is the town of Skiathos (pop. 4,988 in 2001), while other settlements are Χanemos (195), Kalyvia (179), Troulos (159), and Koukounaries (126).

3 Aug 2011

Minh Mang Tomb

Minh Mạng was the second emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam, reigning from 14 February 1820 until 20 January 1841. He was a younger son of Emperor Gia Long, whose eldest son, Crown Prince Canh, had died in 1801. He was well known for his opposition to French involvement in Vietnam and his rigid Confucian orthodoxy. As Gia Long aged, he took on a more isolationist foreign policy, and as a result favored Minh Mang especially for his outlook. Minh Mang was a classicist who was regarded as one of Vietnam's most scholarly monarchs. He was known as a poet and was regarded as an emperor who cared sincerely about his country and paid great attention to its rule, to the extent of micromanaging certain policies. He pursued a sceptical policy to Christian missionaries, often trying to inhibit their activities by administrative means, and later by explicitly banning proselytisation. His crackdowns led to negative European sentiment towards Vietnam and fomented discontent among Catholics at home and abroad which further antagonised Western attitudes towards Vietnam. As a result of his Confucian conservatism, Minh Mang allowed little innovation in Vietnamese society, and in time its military in particular became antiquated. He restricted trade and exchange with Western powers. At home he strengthened the central administration and had to contend with several rebellions, many of them Catholic-inspired. The most serious came in 1833 when southern Vietnam revolted, leading to a civil war lasting a year. This was further deepened by an invasion into the same area by Siamese forces who had attempted to retake Cambodia from Vietnam. After a long struggle, his forces managed to put down both enemies and regain control.

30 Jul 2011

FDC from Germany: Town Hall of Alsfeld

The town wall was built in an almost perfect circle centred on the market place (for strategic reasons). Roads lead mostly straight from the gates in the wall to the town centre. One can deduce where the town wall was from the picturesque narrow streets which remain in their original state: their bends and curves in those small streets follow the original town wall. Town Hall was constructed in medieval, Rähmbau style timber framing between 1512 and 1516. It is next to the market place in the center of the Altstadt. Its ground floor, built of stone, was once used as a market hall.

27 Jul 2011

Jinli old street, Chengdu

This old street is located in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

23 Jul 2011

FDC from Latvia: EUROPA 2011 - Forest

Many thanks to Juris for this nice FDC from Latvia!

21 Jul 2011

Tartu, Estonia

Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the city is the centre of southern Estonia. The Emajõgi river, which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, crosses Tartu. The city is served by Tartu Airport. Historical names of the town include Tarbatu, an Estonian fortress founded in the 5th century, Yuryev (Юрьев) named c. 1030 by Yaroslav I the Wise, and Dorpat as first known by the German crusaders in the 13th century.

20 Jul 2011

Big Tub Lighthouse-Tobermory

Tobermory is a small community located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula in the municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada. It is 300 km northwest of Toronto. The closest city to Tobermory is Owen Sound, 100 km south of Tobermory and connected by Highway 6. The community is known as the "fresh water SCUBA diving capital of the world", because of the numerous shipwrecks that lie in the surrounding waters, especially in Fathom Five National Marine Park. Tobermory and the surrounding area are popular vacation destinations. People come for the beaches, the diving, the unspoilt countryside and the relaxed pace of life. The town lies north of the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

The MS Chi-Cheemaun passenger-car ferry connects Tobermory to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. Tobermory is also the northern terminus of the Bruce Trail, and has twin harbours, known locally as "Big Tub" and "Little Tub".
The Grotto, Grotto - water carved rocks. Tobermory is typically a few degrees colder than Toronto. Most of the businesses in the town are open from May until the Thanksgiving long weekend in October, and are closed for the other seven months of the year.

19 Jul 2011

Cover from Indonesia

Many thanks to Irene Chen for this nice cover from Indonesia!

14 Jul 2011

Le Caudan Waterfront, Mauritius

Many thanks to David for this beautiful card from Mauritius!

13 Jul 2011

Cover from Sri Lanka

I sent this cover to myself, when I made a trip in Sri Lanka this April.

Daimonji Bon-Fire, Kyoto

Daimonji is one of the iconic festivals of Kyoto, Japan. It is the culmination of the O-Bon festival on August 16th, in which five giant bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding the city. It signifies the moment when the spirits of deceased family members, who are said to visit this world during O-Bon, are believed to be returning to the spirit world—thus the name Okuribi (送り火) (roughly, "send-off fire").

The origins of the festival are obscure, but it is believed to be ancient. Specific families have the hereditary duty of organizing all the logistics of the bonfires, and they spend many hours annually providing volunteer labor to maintain this tradition.

12 Jul 2011

Donetsk, Ukraine

Donetsk is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin (Donbass) region. The city was founded in 1869 by a Welsh businessman, John Hughes, who constructed a steel plant and several coal mines in the region; the town was thus named Yuzovka (Юзовка) in recognition of his role in its founding ("Yuz" being a Russian or Ukrainian approximation of Hughes). During Soviet times, the city's steel industry was expanded.

In 1924 at the plenum Yuzovsky executive committee had decided to rename the town from Yuzovka to Stalin (Сталiн). In 1929-1931 the town was renamed in Stalino (Сталино). In 1932 the city became the center of Donetsk region. In 1961, during the De-Stalinisation the city was again renamed to its modern name Donetsk after the Seversky Donets river. In addition, some sources state that the city was briefly called Trotsk—after Leon Trotsky—for a few months in 1923. Today, the city still remains an important industrial centre for coal and steel in Ukraine.

11 Jul 2011

Cover from France

Many thanks to Eric for this great registered mail with so many stamps on the cover!

3 Jul 2011

Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Chinese: 秦始皇陵; pinyin: Qín Shǐhuáng Ling).

The figures vary in height, according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.

1 Jul 2011

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg is the capital of the United States Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton, Bethlehem and Lancaster. Harrisburg is the county seat of Dauphin County and lies on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, 105 miles (169 km) west-northwest of Philadelphia.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry counties, had a population of 509,074 in 2000. A July 1, 2007 estimate placed the population at 528,892, making it the fifth largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton (the Lehigh Valley), and Scranton–Wilkes Barre. The Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon Combined Statistical Area, including both the Harrisburg-Carlisle and Lebanon Metropolitan Statistical Areas, had an estimated population of 656,781 in 2007 and was the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the state.

Harrisburg played a notable role in American history during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution. During part of the 19th century, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and later the Pennsylvania Railroad allowed Harrisburg to become one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeastern United States. The U.S. Navy ship USS Harrisburg, which served from 1918 to 1919 at the end of World War I, was named in honor of the city.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, the city's economic fortunes fluctuated with its major industries consisting of government, heavy manufacturing including the production of steel, agriculture (the greater Harrisburg area is at the heart of the fertile Pennsylvania Dutch Country), and food services (nearby Hershey is home of the chocolate maker, located just 10 miles east of Harrisburg). In 1981, following contractions in the steel and dairy industries, Harrisburg was declared the second most distressed city in the nation. The city subsequently experienced a resurgence under its former mayor Stephen R. Reed, with nearly $3 billion in new investment realized during his lengthy tenure.

31 May 2011

Cover from Australia

Many thanks to Juris for this nice cover sent from Tasmania, Australia!

29 May 2011

Temple on Mount Qingcheng

Mount Qingcheng is a mountain in Dujiangyan, Sichuan, China. It is amongst the most important centres of Taoism (Daoism) in China. In Daoist mythology, it was the site of the Yellow Emperor's studies with Ning Fengzhi. As a centre of the Daoist religion it became host to many temples. The mountain has 36 peaks.