Friday, January 31, 2014

Live ... Like Someone Left the Gate Open

Postcard US-2598772 to Latvia just arrived in time on the first day in the Year of the Horse.  Horse (馬) is one of the 12-year cycle of animals, in the order of the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Horse starts on January 31, 2014, and ends on February 18, 2015.

While the Horse represents animated, active and energetic characteristics, the Year of the Horse marks a time with conflicts and challenges that has to be met with endurance, hard work, and persistence. As President Obama noted in his State of Union address, it is a "Year of Action" that will result to a "Year of Progress".

Now, the gate is open ...

In the Chinese New Year display, Seven life-size horses running around a three-tier mountain with a majestic gold stallion on the top in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The total number of eight represents good fortune in Chinese culture.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Goodbye! Sophie the Blue Snake

Today marks the end of Year of the Snake that runs from February 10, 2013 to January, 30, 2014. Postcard US-2134679 to China shows the Year of Snake art installation that features Sophie Chow, an animated blue snake twisted around a giant peach tree at the Waterfall and Atrium Gardens of The Palazzo  in February 2013. Sophie is 98-feet long, can blink her eyes, sticks her tongue in and out, and move her head side to side. The peach tree that she perches on, at 38-feet tall and 28-feet wide,  has 8,800 blossom vines on the tree, adorned with 193,600 flowers and 28 custom dancing lanterns. Golden I Ching coins, representing an abundance of wealth, are placed around the tree.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shimokita Peninsula, Japan

Postcard JP-492787 came from the Shimokita Peninsula (下北半島),  located in the remote northeastern cape of the Japanese island of Honshū, separated from Hokkaido from the Tsugaru Strait. Shaped like an axe pointing to the west, the peninsula has a thin "handle" in the east connecting to the mountainous "blade" to the mainland.

The whole Shimokita area was designated as a quasi-national park (下北半島国定公園 Shimokita-hantō Kokutei Kōen) on July 22, 1968. All Quasi-National Parks in Japan are managed by the local prefectural governments. The card shows many swans, migrated from Siberia for the winter, at Ominato Bay inside Mutsu Bay.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yes, We Still Can

Postcard US-1939267 to Germany shows President Obama greeted the audience before a campaign speech for reelection at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas on August 20, 2012. He chose North Las Vegas, where foreclosures was the worst in the entire country in 2011, to highlight the need for another term for him to battle the sluggish economy.

More than a year later, in his fifth State of the Union address tonight, Obama focuses on America's economic divide and inequality. Facing a divided Congress and uncooperative Republican leadership, President Obama vows to use the executive power pursue his campaign agenda and outlines modest steps, with or without the help of Congress, to help Americans left behind amid the economic recovery.

NBCNews: Speaker of the House John Boehner gives President Barack Obama a thumbs up after the president noted "how the son of a barkeep is the Speaker of the House" in an effort to highlight the opportunities available to Americans during the State of the Union address. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tunbridge-ware Tea Poy

Outgoing postcard US-2598762 to China shows an English School's Tunbridge-ware tea poy, possibly by G. & J. Burrows circa. 1830. Interestingly, recipient is an American who has lived in China for 10 years and owns a tea-ware store.

This postcard is available at

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wuzhen, Zhejiang, China

Postcard CN-1163302 from China shows a winter scene at Wuzhen (乌镇), a historic scenic town, in Tongxiang, northern Zhejiang Province, China. It is only lies 68 km south of Tongli, Wujiang county, Jiangsu Province, another historic scenic town that we featured before. Within the proximity of triangle formed by three major cities: Hangzhou (80 km), Suzhou (80 km) and Shanghai (140 km), Wuzhen is a small town that covers an area of 71.19 sq km or 27.49 sq mi, with a total population of 60,000, of which 12,000 permanent residents.

Wuzhen is noted for its historic buildings, stone bridges, stone pathways and delicate wood carvings, mostly from Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

National Finals Rodeo Here to Stay

The National Finals Rodeo (NFR), organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), is a 10-day premier championship rodeo event held in the first full week of December in Las Vegas since 1984, with Wrangler Jeans becoming the title sponsor since 2001.

As the current contract with Las Vegas through 2014 was up to renew in December 2013,  PRCA board, the sanctioning body overseeing the NFR, had voted  6-3 to reject Las Vegas' initial offer to keep the NFR beyond 2014. Orlando, Florida and Dallas, Texas started to pursue the role of host city by offering a more lucrative deal to move the NFR. However, after more than a month of negotiations, a new deal was reached yesterday on January 24, 2013 so that the National Finals Rodeo would stay in Las Vegas for another 10 years through 2024.

Outgoing postcard US-2598769 to New Zealand shows a giant cowboy boot at the Cowboy Fan Fest and the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show during the National Finals Rodeo on December 7, 2013.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk

Postcard BY-1136358 from Belarus shows the Holy Spirit Cathedral, the central cathedral of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, in Minsk, Belarus. The Cathedral dates back to 1633-1642 when the city was in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It suffered fire damages in 1741 and was reconstructed afterwards.

Among the various images of saints inside the Cathedral, the Theotokos icon of Virgin Mary, "Mother of God", has been believed as miraculous with tears of diamonds to help people in poverty.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brackenheim, Dekanat

Postcard DE-2831814 from Germany shows a historical building at Brackenheim, a town in the Landkreis Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg, in southern Germany. Brackenheim is located 15 km or 9.3 m southwest of Heilbronn. With more than 800 hectare of vineyards, it is the largest grape-growing municipality in Württemberg.

The Protestant dean's office building was built in 1749 and had been in use until 1977. You can see more of its photo at Panoramio.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hyvää Uutta Vuotta

Postcard FI-1978040 from Finland brought fireworks and a message of "Happy New Year" to Las Vegas. Interestingly, according to wikipedia, "fireworks (other than novelties and sparklers) are sold only between Christmas and New Year in Finland, and their use is allowed only on New Year's Eve from 6pm to 2am the following morning."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Map of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

Postcard RU-2308129, sent on the New Year's Day from Russia, shows a map of Krasnoyarsk, the third largest city in Siberia, Russia, after Novosibirsk and Omsk. It had  a population of  almost 1 million in 2010. Located on the Yenisei River. it is an important junction of the Trans-Siberian Railway that connects Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan, with branch lines going into Mongolia, China and North Korea.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., an activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his "I have a dream" speech, delivered at the 1963 March on Washington gathering, as shown on the Postcard US-2474576 to China.

Whereas King's birthday is January 15, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a floating holiday observed on the third Monday of January each year under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. In 2014, it falls on January 20.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Free Ride to the Top

Postcard US-1669739 to Taiwan shows the Stratosphere Tower at 1,149 ft or 350.2 m, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, It is also the second tallest freestanding observation tower in the Western Hemisphere, next to the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in January, 2014, Nevada residents can get a free Stratosphere Tower pass for access to the indoor and outdoor observation decks with a valid Nevada ID. The general admission would cost $18. The Stratosphere Tower is open from 10 am to 1 am, Sunday to Thursday;  and from 10 am to 2 am, Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Postcard FI-1980870 from Hämeenlinna, Finland shows views of Tampere, the most populous inland city in any of the Nordic countriesa city in southern Finland. Its metropolitan area has a population of 364,000 in 2011. Tampere is the second-largest urban area and third most-populous municipality in Finland, next to the Greater Helsinki municipalities of Helsinki and Espoo.

On the other hand, City of Hämeenlinna has about 68,000 inhabitants, 78 km south to Hämeenlinna and 101 km north to Helsinki. It is the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius. I have featured a postcard of Jean Sibelius' home in my previous blog. I also found a Youtube video of Jean Sibelius' Finlandia (芬蘭頌) performed by the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (長榮交響樂團) in Taiwan with conductor Kek-tjiang Lim (林克昌).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Year of the Horse

Postcard JP-412981 arrived after 218 days. Actually, the first card was sent around June 12, 2013 and it got lost. The sender was kind enough to send this second card. And it's the first postcard with the Year of the Horse theme. The Horse (馬) is one of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese/Lunar Calendar. The Year of the Horse starts on January 31, 2014 and ends on February 18, 2015.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moonlight Serenade

Postcard US-2574042 is traveling to Russia, showing cute frogs in love under a full moon. "Two froggy sweethearts spoon under the smiling June moon. Turtle and Snail look on as the fragrance of water lilies and soft sounds of waving cattails fill the evening air." You can purchase a copy from Zazzle.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Our Lives Begin to End the Day We Become Silent about Things that Matter

As we honor the 85th Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on January 15, 1929, he is remembered as the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement that challenged racial discrimination in federal and state laws. What he once said "Our Lives Begin to End the Day We Become Silent about Things that Matter" still rings true today.

The postcard shows the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in Washington D.C. with a 2013 USPS March on Washington 50th Anniversary forever stamp. The first-day-of-issue cancellation was requested on October 23, 2013 and received on December 7, 2013.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, an American federal holiday that celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., is observed on the third Monday of January each year. For 2014, it will be on January 20. It is not trivia to note that some states had resisted observing the holiday, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It had not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Colorful Train on Neiwan Line

Postcard TW-1123145 from Taiwan shows a colorful train running on the Neiwan Line (內灣線), a railway branch railway line in Hsinchu County, Taiwan. The line was constructed in 1950 and was fully open on September 11, 1951, with a length of 27.9 km and 14 stations from Hsinchu to Neiwan. It became a popular tourist attraction in the early 2000s.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Behalte stets im Herzen

Postcard DE-2794333 from Germany shows a Volkswagen Minibus with the split windshield. Starting from Hanover, Germany from the 1950s to 1979 and then continuing in Brazil until the end of 2013, its production had been the longest in automotive history.

"Always keep in mind,
what you have encountered on your way,
every joy, every smile,
every preserved moment!"

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Orchid Island Scenery of Taiwan

Postcard TW-1105414 from Taiwan shows a beautiful sunset view of Orchid Island (蘭嶼), a volcanic island in Taitung County off the southeastern coast of Taiwan. The island is home to the aboriginal Tao (達悟族), an ethnic minority group who migrated to the island from the Batan Archipelago 800 years ago. Out of a total current population of 4,000, approximately 2,400 belong to the aboriginal Tao, who are Austronesian people linguistically and culturally closer to the Ivatan people of the Batanes islands in the Philippines. The rest 1,600 are Han Chinese.

The island has been a nuclear waste storage site at its southern tip since 1982, with 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste from Taiwan's three nuclear power plants. Following years of protests by local residents since 2002, demands to remove the nuclear waste have intensified after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.

The card came with a newly issued the Year of the Horse stamp by the Chunghwa POST.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hula Hoop

I have been looking for fitness themed postcards for a while but rarely receive one. So I am extremely please to receive NL-2257435 from the Netherlands, showing a lady exercising a hula hoop. The modern hula hoop, which is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck, was invented by Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr in 1958. However, various hoops have been twirled, rolled and thrown around the world throughout history.

Cirque Du Soleil shows have many hoop acts. The one from Quidam is unique and one of the best. Quidam is currently touring in London.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Piccadilly Circus, London

Postcard GB-498496 shows Piccadilly Circus, a public space of the famous West End in the City of Westminster near London. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping area of Piccadilly by a "circus",  which means "circle" in Latin, i.e. a round open space at a street junction.

Since the Circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End. It is noted as a public meeting place and a major tourist attraction. According to Wikipedia, "the Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue of Eros. It is surrounded by several noted buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre." As someone living in the self-centric America, I can't resist the idea of labeling it as London's equivalence to Time Square in New York City.

Directly beneath the Piccadilly Circus lies the London Underground System.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Finnish Winter Activities

Postcard FI-1968291 from Finland shows typical Finnish winter activities. Ice swimming in Finland is a tradition connected to the sauna culture where the activity of swimming occurs during the winter season, either in outdoor open water or unheated pools. Equally entertaining and challenging is Ice fishing where you try to catch fish with lines, hooks or spears through holes on a frozen water body. Skiing is another popular winter sport. However, due to recent warm weather, snows were melted in some parts of Central Finland, which makes skiing impossible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter in Colorado

Postcard US-2578514 from Denver, Colorado shows a typical winter scene there. Winters can range from mild to occasional bitter cold, with common snowfalls, averaging 53.5 inches or 136 cm for 1981−2010. Temperature can get as high as 50°F or 10°C at day and as low as 0°F  or −18°C at night. During the first 9 days from January 1 to January 9 in 2014, the highest temperature was 61°F or 16°C and the lowest was -4°F or -20°C with a total precipitation of 0.16 in. or 0.4 cm.

Click for Denver, Colorado Forecast

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

International Consumer Electronics Show

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 officially starts today. With 3,200 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees. it is expected to be the largest event in CES history. At this world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, companies are showing off new technologies and gadgets. One of the hottest topic this year is the wearable gadgets that range from a voice-recognition headset to a fitness tracker. Various keynotes, presentations, demonstrations and lectures will last until January 10, 2014.

Postcard US-1706628 to MN, USA shows that dancers at Canon Theater, performing for the CES 2012 in Las Vegas, morphed into a turtle and other sea creatures.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grand Canyon of North Carolina

Postcard US-2575442 from SC, USA shows "the Plunge Basin Trail that leads to views of Linville Falls from the bottom of Linville Gorge, a 1500-foot deep chasm which, in 1951, became the first designated wildness area in the eastern United State."

Linville Gorge is know as the Grand Canyon of North Carolina.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Julien Dubuque Monument

Postcard US-2566039 shows the Julien Dubuque Monument, final resting place of the founder of Dubuque, Iowa. Julien Dubuque was a French Canadian from Champlain, Quebec, one of the first European men to settle in the area that is now known as Dubuque, Iowa. He initially received permission from the Meskwaki Indian tribe to mine the lead in 1788,  eventually married Potosa, daughter of Peosta, the chief of the Mesquakie Indians. He subsequently submitted the claim to Spain since Spain controlled the territory prior to 1801. The Spanish approved a land grant for him in 1796.

Julien died of pneumonia on March 24,1810, and was buried on the bluff above Catfish Creek. After his death, the Meskwaki built a log crypt for him, covering his grave with a wooden and stone shelter. In 1897, the structure was replaced by an imposing stone monument built of Galena limestone quarried from the bluff. The founder was buried four feet into the ground inside the monument. The final cost of the twelve-foot diameter, twenty-nine foot high Late-Gothic-Revival style structure was $560.

The Monument was listed on National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 1988; it was declared a National Historic Landmark on November 4, 1993.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Visionary Vietnam

Postcard SG-126067 from Singapore arrived today with a street view of Hanoi, Vietnam. Printed on the card, the description says "the architecture in Hanoi's old quarter is well worth exploring. Pagodas and colonial shophouses abound."

Friday, January 3, 2014

A View towards the Dead Sea from Sodom Mountain

Postcard IL-31029 from Israel shows the Dead Sea, a salted water lake on the border between Israel and Jordan. The description on the postcard reads: "Its shore is lowest place on Earth, over 400 meters below sea level. Sodom Mountain is in the North East of the Negev Desert. It's about 11 km long and and 200 meters high and was probably created about 20,000 years ago. It's named after the Biblical city of Sodom which is thought to have been located nearby."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Last in 2013 or First in 2014?

Postcard ES-215704 from Spain was the last official card I received in 2013. However, since the PostCrossing server resides in UTC/GMT zone, the registered arrival date was January 1, 2014. That would make this card my first in the New Year.

The postcard shows a night view of Seville, the fourth-largest city in Spain, with the Torre del Oro (Gold Tower) at the left-center by the Guadalquivir River and the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See at the top-right in the background.

Built in the early 13th century, the Torre del Oro was a military watch tower that controlled access to Seville via the river. It got its name due to its golden shine projected on the river, caused by its building materials: a mixture of mortar, lime and pressed hay. It served as a prison during the Middle Ages. 

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral that ranks as the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, along with the Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Fireworks in Las Vegas

Watching fireworks shot from rooftops at multiple casinos and hotels is an annual tradition of celebrating New Year in Las Vegas. However, during 2008 and 2009, fireworks were banned from rooftops because of a rooftop fire caused by a welding accident at the Monte Carlo on January 25, 2008. As a result, 2009 New Year's Fireworks were set off at ground level on January 1, 2009. After poor reviews from visitors, fireworks returned to rooftops on January 1, 2010 with increased safety precautions.

Postcard US-2133896 to Germany shows the 2013 fireworks at Stratosphere on New Year's Day. This morning I was at Mirage where fireworks from Treasure Island and The Venetian could be seen at the same time. I will see whether I got some good pictures to make postcards.