#A to Z Challenge: Creating Calligraphy

AtoZ April2015Challenge

C is for the beautiful art of Calligraphy.

Last year, I was contemplating on sending handmade cards to family and friends. I was browsing through the Internet to find some inspiration when I suddenly came across a simple yet beautiful design. It only had a drawing of a Christmas tree in watercolour accompanied by an elegant calligraphy. Oh, I fell in love with the swirls and flourishes that just scream beautiful! The lettering geek in me got envious and prompted me to teach myself how to write like that.

I bought stuff (online) to begin writing practices. To my utter horror, I feared somebody would throw rocks at me once they see my first attempts! I think the use of computer has changed my handwriting into its deteriorated state now. So I practiced more and more. I was delighted to discover a treasure trove of tutorials and free downloadable practice sheets over the Internet. Thank you, generous people! That – and a good friend who’s learning calligraphy on her own – inspired me to go on. I practice writing an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon, and one more hour before I go to bed, for weeks. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what that is.

After so many wasted paper and spilled ink, I think my hard work is paying off – I am seeing improvements!

Creating calligraphy
Ready to practice. These are the basic tools - dip pen, ink and dotted pad.
Creating calligraphy
Daily drills.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Here I used mixed gouache paints as ink for the henna-ish effect.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Writing spiral text with mixed gouache paints.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Silver poster colour as ink and written on a black card stock.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Silver poster colour as ink and written on a black card stock.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. A birthday card I made for a friend, with a simple calligraphy and flowers.

I am still far from being an expert, I know that, but practicing calligraphy is very therapeutic and relaxing. I’m going to hone further my skills, and think of other ways where I can incorporate calligraphy into my snail mail hobby. While I do not expect to have any wedding commissions to deal with or make money out of this, I think calligraphy is a lovely, personal touch to handmade cards for any occasion. And boy, oh boy, it feels really good when you create something by hand. What was the last thing you made by hand?

#A to Z Challenge: Bokator battle

AtoZ April2015Challenge

A bit of action for today’s post.

B is for Bokator, Cambodia’s ancient and mysterious martial art that includes weapon techniques. It is believed to be created more than 2,000 years ago making it, according to some, possibly the oldest existing fighting system in Cambodia and may be the predecessor of Southeast Asian kickboxing styles. Many Khmers also believe that the bas-reliefs carved on the walls of Angkor Wat temple prove that the origin of Khmer Boxing predates Muay Thai.

Bokator, Cambodia's martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia’s martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia's martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia’s martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.

Bokator, or more formally Labokkatao, translates as “pounding a lion”: “bok“, to pound and “tor“, a lion.

This martial art has techniques that mimics animal movements while incorporating diverse kicks, knee-kicks, punches, elbow smashes, ground fighting, and many others, into its attacking postures. When fighting, the Bokator practitioners still wear symbols of the uniform of the ancient Khmer army. A krama (scarf) is tied around their waste and magic sangvar (silk cords) are tied around their heads and biceps for increased power and stamina. Ropes are also tied around their hands and wrists. The kramas also show the fighter’s level of expertise, very much like the belts used in most martial arts. White, green, blue, red, brown (lower levels) to black. The highest is the gold krama which is awarded to a grand master.

Bokator, Cambodia's martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia’s martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.

However, during the dark days of the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot, Bokator was almost lost as practitioners were sort out and exterminated along with other educated Cambodians, as they were perceived to be a threat to the society. However, Bokator is enjoying a revival these days.  San Kim Sean, the grandmaster of Bokator, survived the genocide and fled to the US where he settled for many years. But because he love his country so much and he had a burning passion to revive the Bokator, he returned to Cambodia in 2001.

Bokator, Cambodia's martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia’s martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.
Bokator, Cambodia’s martial art. Photo published with permission from my brother, JEDA.

There was a renewed interest in reviving Cambodian culture after years of a repressive regime and San Kim Sean found followers of Bokator, young and not so young as well. Even foreigners sought him to learn this ancient martial art. It has gained a lot of popularity since then and there are a lot of Bokator Clubs all over the country. These days, too, there are national and international Bokator tournaments held in the country and they are televised on national TV. It is a beautiful and exciting martial art, albeit it looks brutal to most, as any other martial arts there is. I have never seen a tournament yet so I’m keeping my fingers crossed to see a live match soon, and not on TV.

#AToZ Challenge: Angkor Wat

AtoZ April2015Challenge

Chum riep soo and welcome to my blog, Postcards Crossing.

This is my first time to join the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I’m quite excited about it. My blog covers mostly my hobby of collecting postcards, stamps, letters and a bit of my life as an expat in Cambodia. This, I think, provides me with plenty enough to choose from to cover the whole month of April.

So let’s start the ball rolling, shall we…

A is for Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, a truly magnificent masterpiece of Khmer architecture, and the source of pride of Cambodians.
Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, a truly magnificent masterpiece of Khmer architecture, and the source of pride of Cambodians. Photo taken by me, posted in 2008.

Angkor Wat (Angkor Temple) is the most famous of all the temples found inside the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was built in the 12th century by King Suyavarman II (Jayavarman). Angkor Wat’s architectural details – from the bas reliefs carved on the many gallery walls around the temple to the enormous barays (water reservoirs or systems) – clearly showcase Cambodian history, tales and legends, as well as, the incredible feats of Khmer engineering and architecture. International experts say that the temple’s balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest in the world.

Angkor Wat is the main tourist attraction in Cambodia. Millions of foreign tourists (as well as locals) visit to see it with their own eyes – and rarely leave disappointed.It truly is a world wonder. It is the highlight of every tourist’s visit to Cambodia, and, arguably the most photographed in all of Cambodia. I’ve been to Angkor Wat many, many times before (5-6hrs by bus from the capital, Phnom Penh) and it never fails to amaze me every time. It is an epitome of classical Khmer architecture and a world heritage site.

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NB: My apologies for posting this late. Earlier in the day I could not access my blog and, due to time differences between me and my tech support, the issue was fixed later in the day (night).

Postcard Friendship Friday: Knitting sheep

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I really wanted to post something related to Beth’s theme but my scanner boinked for the nth time. So I’m posting this instead:

How adorable and zen-looking is this knitting-sheep?
How adorable and zen-looking is this knitting-sheep?

The year 2015 is the year of the sheep (or goat, depending on who you ask). This is a special New Year greeting postcard featuring an adorable, adorable knitting sheep surrounded by sakuras (cherry blossoms)!I have to thank my good friend, Clarissa, at Kizuna – Ties and Bonds of Love, for this lovely postcard. She’s one of the few people I met through blogging whose friendship I treasure. I may not update my blog regularly, or check my Facebook account to leave messages for her, but she never fails to surprise me with little things, like sending me postcards. She also knows that I love making things – I crochet and I began learning how to knit recently. Hence, this postcard.

One of the things I treasure the most are the friendships I’ve made – whether virtual or in real life. Friendships don’t come easily – it takes time and effort to build it. I am incredibly fortunate to have met friends who treat me the same :) To Beth, and all my friends, thanks for the continuing friendship. Enjoy your weekend.

Postcard Friendship Friday: Mgarr Harbour

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Howdy, PFF friends!
It’s been a while, I know. Sorry for the long absence.

I have some many postcards worthy of posts but I could not find time to post them.
Now that I found a good system to balance my time, here I am again joining the PFF fun!

Here’s a postcard sent from Malta. It was sent through a swap I arranged from a postcard collector on Facebook. He was having a holiday there and offered postcards to those interested. Of course, I grabbed the opportunity.

Mgarr Harbour, Gozo, Malta
Mgarr Harbour, Gozo, Malta

The beautiful Mgarr Harbour is the gateway to Gozo.
According to an online article, Mgarr Harbour is bustling with activity due to the increase in the number of vessels using the facilities there. The harbour has a very scenic view – with verdant hills, cliffs and valleys overlooking the beautiful quay. Warehouses, stores, garages, and fishermen sheds are located right in the port and the broad square-like wharf is located at the foot of the hill.

To this day, Mgarr harbour is still the most important fishing base and provides the best winter shelter for the island’s fishing boats, while the adjacent marina hosts pleasure sea craft throughout he year.

Hello world!

I’m baaaaaacccckkk.

Welcome to Postcards Crossing!
I have successfully transferred my domain to another registrar and left Blogger and GoogleApps altogether and now, I am using WordPress as my platform.

So goodbye, Blogger and GoogleApps. I have moved to the other side.

I’m happier here now that I’m hosted by WordPress (my other sites are also here!) where I have full control of every aspect.  Regular blogging will resume shortly. I have tons of postcards waiting to be posted and stories to be told.

The blog is up and running and will be active while I’m doing some more tweaks in my chosen theme. So if you happen to see missing photos and/or broken links, kindly bear with me. I will need time to tackle all these theme issues.

Thank you and please come back again.

Sunday Stamps 090: Chocolove Stamp

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Now, now, I’m back again.
Please forgive me for being an irregular blogger.
I may have all the time in the world since quitting work. The truth is a lot and nothing have happened. Please excuse the babbling.

This week’s theme is anything you wish, according to Viridian. Not sure if this is acceptable, but here goes…

A very dear friend sent me this, among other things, for my birthday earlier this year.

Love at first sight! There's also a lovely poem inside.
Love at first sight! There’s also a lovely poem inside.

I fell in love with the packaging instantly – it resembles an envelope with a classic love poem inside. With the accompanying stamp (featuring the prized hazelnuts of Oregon) and postmark, it looks like it’s been sent by a lover from a land far, far away (California, USA, in this case)!

It’s a good chocolate bar with chunky bits of organic hazelnuts. It is truly a lovely combination of chocolate and love, and a wonderful birthday present to receive.

I admit my post is a “stretch” but I will make up for it in the following weeks :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Postcard Friendship Friday: Amazing Macedonia

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Howdy, friends here at Postcard Friendship Friday? I’ve been away for too long, I know. Sorry I could not join you the past months. I’m returning to the meme, if you’ll still accept me :). Here’s my comeback post for PFF.

postcard-friendship-friday-macedonia-map-card

I have always been fascinated by the Balkans, not only because of the regions natural beauty but also because of their tremendous cultural and historical heritage. So it is no surprise that there was never a day that I daydreamed about visiting this region. In particular, I would really love to visit Macedonia. A friend of mine was a volunteer there and she was talking non-stop about Macedonia even she already returned to her home country years ago.

Macedonia is a country so far from where I am, yet I am lucky to get a glimpse of it because of another good friend, Ana (My World of Postcards). She sent me the above map card showing the many splendours and treasures that are found in her country with the national colours as the background.

Will I ever set foot in Macedonia, and meet my friend Ana? That remains to be seen. My heart is set on finding a way.

Swapping days are here again!

Ohhhkaaaay, now that the big events are done and over with, I can safely say that I’m back to my swapping activities again. I know many of my readers (ahem) are waiting for this announcement. So sorry to keep you all waiting.

I'm back in business, swapping-postcards, that is.  Photo from Google Images.
I’m back in business, swapping-postcards, that is. Photo from Google Images.

At work, we have already done two major activities and with these all over, my life is returning to normal. That means I can turn my attention to my house – we’ve moved in this house three months ago and yet unpacking and decorating is never completed due to previous pressing responsibilities at work.

Apart from swapping postcards, I will catch up with my craft activities. Before 2013 ended, I purchased some fabric for some easy DIY sewing. I can’t wait to use my sewing machine again. And of course, my dogs. I feel bad that I haven’t played with them in a while. Yesterday, my husband and I went to a pet shop close to Olympic market to get some treats and we spotted a pack of dog training treats. Hah, I had the brilliant idea of trying them so we got a pack. Not sure how different it is from the ordinary dog treats, hehehehe. So, dear swap-friends. I’m now open for business. Leave a comment or send me a message via my blog’s message system. Looking forward to hearing from you.