November 17, 2017

3199 THAILAND (Bangkok) - Wat Saket in Bangkok


Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok, which dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was known as Wat Sakae. When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I (r. 1782-1809) renovated the temple and gave it its present name. King Rama III (r. 1824-1851) built a chedi inside Wat Saket, but it collapsed during construction because of the soft soil of Bangkok. Over time, the abandoned mud-and-brick structure acquired the shape of a low hill and was overgrown with weeds. The locals called it the Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mountain).

November 16, 2017

1318, 2232, 2647, 3104, 3198 TANZANIA / KENYA - Maasai people

3104 Tanzania - Young maasai milking a cow

Posted on 26.10.2014, 22.01.2016, 03.07.2016, 01.07.2017, 16.11.2017
The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people, pastoralists, inhabiting southern Kenya (840,000) and northern Tanzania (800,000), i.e. the African Great Lakes region. They originated from the lower Nile valley and began migrating south around the 15th century. Their territory reached its largest size in the mid-19th century, and covered almost all of the Great Rift Valley and adjacent lands. Followed a period of epidemics and drought (1883-1902), then the British evicted them from the fertile lands between Meru and Kilimanjaro, and most of the fertile highlands near Ngorongoro, to make room for ranches.

2647 Tanzania - Maasai men

As with the Bantu, and the Nilotes in Eastern Africa, the Maasai have adopted many customs and practices from the neighboring Cushitic groups, including the age set system of social organization, circumcision, and vocabulary terms. They are herdsmen, and had a fearsome reputation as warriors and cattle-rustlers. The raiders used spears and shields, but were most feared for throwing clubs (orinka) which could be accurately thrown from up to 100m. In modern time they have resisted the urging of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle.

1318 Kenya - Maasai morans

The Maasai are monotheistic, worshipping a single deity called Enkai or Engai, who has a dual nature: Engai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Engai Nanyokie (Red God) is vengeful. The end of life is virtually without ceremony, and the dead are left out for scavengers. A corpse rejected by hyenas is seen as having something wrong with it. The Maasai lifestyle centres around their cattle which constitute their primary source of food. They eat the meat, drink the milk and on occasion, drink the blood. The measure of a man's wealth is in terms of cattle and children.

2232  Tanzania - Maasai dancers

Maasai society is strongly patriarchal, with elder men deciding most major matters. A full body of oral law covers many aspects of behavior. The men are born and raised to be warriors, and the central unit of the society is the age-set. Every 15 years or so, a new generation of Morans or Il-murran (warriors), formed boys between 12 and 25, will be initiated. One rite of passage to the status of junior warrior is a painful circumcision (emorata) ceremony. The healing process will take 3-4 months, during which urination is painful and nearly impossible at times, and boys must remain in black clothes for a period of 4-8 months.

3198  Tanzania - Maasai woman

The junior warriors live together in a circle of huts built by their mothers (manyatta), until they have passed on to senior warrior status and are allowed to start families. This period generally last between 5-7 years, although 8-12 years is not uncommon. Effectively a military garrison, in the manyatta they learn the arts of survival, cattle raiding and warfare (Eng Kipaata), although nowadays this period is more symbolic than practical. In the past a moran could be expected to prove his manhood by killing a lion armed with nothing more than a spear (olamayio).

November 14, 2017

3197 RUSSIA (Arkhangelsk Oblast) - Hooker Island (Franz Josef Land)


Located within the Arctic Ocean, 360km north of Novaya Zemlya and 260km east of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land constitutes the northernmost part of Russia's  Arkhangelsk Oblast. These 191 islands are 900km from the North Pole and 750km from the Yamal Peninsula, the closest point of the Eurasian mainland. At 81° north the archipelago experiences 141 annual days of midnight sun, from 12 April to 30 August.

November 13, 2017

3196 CHINA (Hong Kong) - Former Marine Police Headquarters


Now officially renamed as 1881 Heritage, the Former Marine Police Headquarters Compound is one of the four oldest surviving government buildings in Hong Kong. It compound used to be occupied by the Marine Police, now a unit within the Hong Kong Police Force, since its establishment until late 1996, when it was moved to Sai Wan Ho. The Compound and the Old Kowloon Fire Station have been re-developed into a heritage hotel, opened in 2009.

November 12, 2017

2599, 3183, 3186, 3190, 3195 SLOVENIA (Slovene Littoral) - Piran and its inhabitants


Posted on 07.06.2016, 29.10.2017, 31.10.2017, 05.11.2017, 12.11.2017
Located in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea, Piran is one of the three major towns of Slovenian Istria. The town has much medieval architecture, with narrow streets and compact houses. It was heavily influenced by the Venetian Republic and Austria-Hungary, therefore the monuments differ greatly from those in inner parts of Slovenia. The Piran town walls were constructed to protect the town from Ottoman incursions.

3183 Piran - Fisherman square, next to the town's inner port (mandracchio)

Inhabited at the beginning by Illyrian Histri tribes, the Piran peninsula was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 178 and 177 BC and settled in the following years with rural homes (villae rusticae). Incursions of Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6th century, prompted the Roman population to withdraw into easily defensible locations such as islands or peninsulas. This started local urbanisation and by the 7th century, under Byzantine rule, Piran had become heavily fortified.

3186 Piran - Fisherman repairing a fishing net

Despite the defences, the Franks conquered Istria in 788 and Slavs settled in the region. By 952, Piran had become a part of he Holy Roman Empire. During the 13th century Venice decided that it would like to have full control of the salt pans surrounding Piran, and launched a short successful war in 1282. Venetian rule lasted for over 500 years, only coming to an end in 1797 at the hands of Napoleon, but the Austrians invaded shortly thereafter, in 1813.

3190 Piran - The crier informed the townspeople about all
the important events.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Piran was an Austro-Hungarian city with over 12,000 inhabitants, larger than the nearby Koper. It was a flourishing market and spa town with good transport connections. After WWI all of Istria came under the rule of Italy, which neglected the region leading to significant decline. Following WWII, Piran became part of Yugoslavia in 1954. It gained independence as part of the Republic of Slovenia in 1991.

3195 Piran - At the well

In 1910 Piran had 7,379 inhabitants in the town proper, 95.97% Italians and 0.09% Slovenes. In the surrounding countryside, the population was mixed, both Italian and Slovene. In 1945, the town proper had 5,035 inhabitants, 91.32% Italian and 8.54% Slovene speakers. After 1947, the ethnic composition changed radically, because a significant part of the population chose to emigrate in the final phase of the Istrian exodus, rather than stay in socialist Yugoslavia. In 1956 there were 3.574 inhabitants, 67.6% Slovene and 15.5% Italian. Even today the municipality is bilingual, both Slovene and Italian are official languages.

November 11, 2017

3194 VIETNAM - The map of the country


Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula, bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, with Ho Chi Minh City as a historical city as well. With 94.6 million inhabitants (2016) is the world's 14th-most-populous country.

November 10, 2017

3193 INDIA (Assam) - Kaziranga National Park (UNESCO WHS)


Located in the heart of the state of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is one of the last areas in north-eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. The fluctuations of the Brahmaputra River result in spectacular examples of riverine and fluvial processes in this vast area of wet alluvial tall grassland interspersed with numerous broad shallow pools fringed with reeds and patches of deciduous to semi-evergreen woodlands.

November 8, 2017

3192 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - Mary Rose


Launched in 1511, during the reign of King Henry VIII, the Mary Rose was named after the King's younger sister, Mary Tudor (1496-1533), who was later briefly Queen of France. The rose was the emblem of the Tudors. She was a carrack-type warship, with high "castles" in the bow and stern with a low waist of open decking in the middle. The shape of the hull has a so-called tumblehome form and reflected the use of the ship as a platform for heavy guns.

November 7, 2017

3191 CHINA (Hong Kong) - Pottinger Street


Known also as the Stone Slabs Street (since it is paved unevenly by granite stone steps), Pottinger Street is located in Central District, and was named in 1858 after Henry Pottinger, the first Governor of Hong Kong, serving from 1843 to 1844. The street was originally on the slope between Queen's Road Central and Hollywood Road. It then crosses Stanley Street and Wellington Street and ends at the western end of Hollywood Road, just after it meets Wyndham Street.

November 3, 2017

3189 POLAND (West Pomerania) - Gąski Lighthouse


Located on the Polish coast of the Baltic Sea, next to the road between Ustronie Morskie and Mielno, Gąski Lighthouse was built between 1876 and 1878 from red bricks. The height of the lighthouse is 41.2m; with the lighthouse's light having a focal length of 50.1m. Originally it was fitted with a Fresnel lens with the light source provided by kerosene lamps. The intermittent beam was achieved by three screens rotated by a clock-work mechanism.

3188 VIETNAM (Red River Delta) - St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi


Located west of Hoàn Kiếm Lake, in a small square within the Old Quarter of Hanoi, St. Joseph's Cathedral is a late 19th-century Gothic Revival church (resembling Notre Dame de Paris), that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country. Construction was completed in 1886, a year before the federation of French Indochina was established as part of its colonial empire.

November 2, 2017

3120, 3187 MALAYSIA (Malacca / Penang) - Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca (UNESCO WHS)

3120 Saint Paul's Church in Melaka

Posted on 12.08.2017, 02.11.2017
Melaka and George Town have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. Both towns bear testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the many religions and cultures met and coexisted, creating a unique architecture, culture and townscape.

3187 Christ Church in Melaka

With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

3187 ROMANIA - Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476/77)

Ambras Castle portrait of Vlad III (c. 1560),
reputedly a copy of an original
made during his lifetime

Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler (Romanian: Vlad Țepeș), was voivode of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death. Even if he didn't reign more then 7 years, he remained in the collective memory of the Romanians as a national hero, because on the one hand he constantly fought with the Ottoman Empire, regardless of the consequences, trying to preserve the country's independence, and on the other he strengthened the voivode's position and the rule of law.

October 30, 2017

3185 SINGAPORE - Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum


Located in the Chinatown district of Singapore, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is based on the Tang dynasty architectural style and built to house the tooth relic of the historical Buddha. The ground breaking ceremony was conducted on 13 March 2005. It is claimed that the relic of Buddha from which it gains its name was found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar. The relic is housed in a giant stupa weighing a whopping 3500kg and made from 320kg of gold, of which 234kg were donated by devotees.

3184 NORWAY - Greetings from Norway


Norway is an unitary monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the Kingdom. It covers an area of 385,252 square kilometres, and has a population of 5,258,317 (January 2017). The country shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia, and the Skagerrak strait separates it from Denmark.  Norway has an extensive coastline, facing the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea.

October 28, 2017

3182 FRANCE (Saint Barthélemy) - Colombier Beach


Located in the northwestern part of the island, Colombier Beach is a secluded beach - an entire bay area only accessible by boat or foot. It is a lovely white sand beach lined with vegetation, and the only building which can be seen from there is the home of billionaire David Rockefeller, origin of the development of a high-end tourism in Saint-Bartholomew. L'Anse de Colombier is now part of the natural marine reserve of Saint Barthemlemy.