Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mid-Autumn festival

Few days back it was the mooncake festival and we all know that were all so fattened up bythe stuff but most of us dont know why they exist and what are we eating it for.

Amongst all traditional Chinese festivals, Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) can be said to be the second most significant festival to the Chinese worldwide, after Chinese New Year (农历新年). This festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month annually in the Chinese Lunar calendar, which is usually within the months of August or September in the Gregorian Solar calendar that we usually use everyday. It coincides with the autumn equinox in the Gregorian Solar calendar. On this night, the moon is at its fullest, brightest and roundest. This festival is not only celebrated by the Chinese in China, Taiwan and throughout the global Chinese Diaspora, but it is also widely observed in Vietnam and Japan as well.

To the Chinese, this festival is known as Zhong Qiu Jie (中秋节), or literally, Mid-Autumn Festival. However, it is also known as Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival to the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. In Vietnam, it is known as Tet Trung Thu, while in Japan, it is known as Tsukimi Festival (月見), which literally means ‘moon-viewing.’ This festival is widely observed in Japan since the Nara (奈良) and Heian (平安) Periods (710 – 1185 A.D.).

The Mid-Autumn Festival is highly significant to the Chinese. This festival traditionally marks the end of the summer harvesting season and provides a means for family members, relatives and friends to gather together under the bright moonlight of the full moon. In modern times, its agricultural significance has, to a certain extent, faded but its familial and social significances still remain. For families and friends, this day is a day of reunion and gathering, whereby they enjoy each other’s company, share stories and experiences as well as have fun under the full moon. It is also perceived to be a romantic night by some, as couples enjoy each other’s company and love under the bright moonlight, viewing the beauty of the full moon together and perhaps even confessing feelings for one another amidst the romantic atmosphere of the night. It is frequently said by the Chinese that “when the moon is full, mankind is one.”

Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in many ways by the Chinese. Some of the customs of this festival include viewing the full moon together, eating mooncakes and pomeloes under the moonlight, gathering dandelions leaves and distributing them to others, as well as performing fire dragon dances. All these activities are done under the full moon of the night. On this night, children often carry bright lanterns and walk around with them under the moon, as it is believed that the brightly-lit lanterns are able to scare away demons and evil spirits.

A notable thing in this festival is the presence of the special Chinese delicacy known as the mooncake (月饼). As the name suggests, it is round in shape so as to resemble the full moon. These mooncakes are made only during the month of this festival and cannot be seen in any other parts of the year. Some families buy ready-made mooncakes for the festival while others prefer to make these mooncakes themselves. Mooncakes are made mainly of bean paste, with melon seeds, lotus seeds, almonds or nuts embedded within the paste. Some mooncakes have extra flavourings added in the bean paste, which enhance their taste and sometimes even change their colours. A salted duck egg yolk is added in the centre of the mooncake, while flour is used to make the golden brown crust of the mooncake. The upper surface of the mooncake is frequently stamped with Chinese characters carrying good wishes and messages of prosperity, longevity and happiness. Indeed, without this delicious Chinese delicacy, the Mid-Autumn Festival is rendered incomplete and somewhat insignificant.

Emperor Hongwu (洪武帝) (Reigned 1368 - 1398 A.D.)

The popularity of eating mooncakes dates back to many centuries ago in Imperial China, throughout many dynasties. A popular folklore pertaining to mooncakes during this festive season involves the overthrow of the Yuan Dynasty (元朝) (1271 – 1368 A.D.) and the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (明朝) (1368 – 1644 A.D.). The period of the Yuan Dynasty saw the rule of China under the Mongols, which created great dissatisfaction amongst the Chinese people, having to live under the rule of a foreign power. During the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongol rulers had banned all forms of public or group gatherings so as to prevent the Chinese people from grouping together to plan and stage a rebellion.

Kublai Khan-founder of Yuan dynasty

At that time, the Chinese rebellion against the Yuan Dynasty was led by Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋), with his faithful and wise advisor Liu Bowen (刘伯温). According to the folklore, Liu Bowen thought of staging the rebellion during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Since the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, he decided to distribute mooncakes widely to the Chinese people. He obtained permission from the Mongol authorities to do so, on the grounds that he and the Chinese people wished to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor on the special day. Many Chinese people in the cities received the mooncakes, but each found a piece of paper hidden within each mooncake, written with a short message:

“Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th Moon.”

On the very night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, many Mongols were killed by the Chinese people, including many of the rulers. The entire Yuan government collapsed overnight, thus the Ming Dynasty was subsequently established, with Zhu Yuanzhang as its first Ming emperor, taking the name of Emperor Hongwu (洪武帝). Liu Bowen remained as Emperor Hongwu’s trusted advisor, owing to his great wisdom in planning strategies. Many in the imperial court were amazed at Liu Bowen’s great wisdom and capability in planning successful strategies, which greatly enhanced the Ming government and strengthened the Ming Dynasty. In fact, many Chinese serials today depict Liu Bowen and his great wisdom, calling him ‘The Amazing Strategist.’

So there you have it the story about the delicious mooncake!!Go and eat one now

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kangaroo Island banknote

Uniface; kangaroo at upper left. Couple slight residue areas on back. Two "X" over signature area; with neither serial number nor signature. Text states "On behalf of the Directors of the South Australian Company I promise to pay the bearer in demand either in cash or upon London, at my option, the sum of 1 Pound Sterling".

Sometimes banknotes can appear from the most unlikely of places and as we found out,there are evn antarctican dollars but this note in particular comes from Kangaroo Island,never heard of it eh??Well a little story about the island then

Kangaroo Island (near Adelaide) was discovered by Captain Matthew Flinders on March 2, 1802. No island dwellers were found, but an abundance of food in the form of kangaroos was sighted. In his journal, Flinders stated that "the whole ship's company was employed this afternoon in the skinning and cleaning of kangaroos. After four months' privation they stewed half a hundredweight of heads, forequarters and tails down into soup for dinner, on this and the succeeding days, and as much steak given, moreover to both officers and men as they could consume by day and night. In gratitude for so seasonable a supply, I named this south land 'KANGAROO ISLAND'."

The first European explorers found the Island to be uninhabited, as evidenced by the lack of campfires and tameness of the wildlife. Since the 1930s, Aboriginal campsites have been discovered in a number of areas around the Island, including one near the sea lion colonies of Cape du Couedic. Today, it's believed Aboriginal people were living on the Island at least as long as 16,000 years ago (before the Island was separated by rising sea levels) and as recently as 2,000 years ago.

Between 1806 and 1836, Kangaroo Island was occupied intermittently by whalers and sealers, and also permanently by runaway convicts, ship deserters, farmers, and others. During this time, Americans came and left the island. William Walker, of Nicaragua fame, was among the settlers.Why the Aboriginal people abandoned Kangaroo Island - and how they left - remains a mystery. Intriguingly, mainland indigenous peoples called it ‘Karta' or ‘Land of the Dead'.

Today, Kangaroo Island remains inhabited. There is even a Kangaroo Island Football League!
Kangaroo Island is a true wildlife sanctuary. Owing to its isolation from the mainland, the Island has suffered less from the impact of European settlement and retains more than half of its native ‘old-growth' vegetation - a vast area of some 2,250 square kilometres.Today, more than one-third of the Island isdeclared Conservation or National Park and it has five significant Wilderness Protection Areas. So Kangaroo Island continues to be a special and protected place.

But other then the fact that an extremely rare banknote came from Kangaroo Island,it has so much in it.Its rich in animals and a nice tourist destination during the holidays as well as plenty of places to visit.Do visit there one day especially if you live in Australia.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Odd denomination Hong Kong Dollar

Its been a long time since i write something but i guess i should now,well you must be reading this then

Recently the Standard Chartered Bank of Hing Kong decided to issue this odd denomination of 150 dollars to celebrate their 150th anniversary in Hong Kong which would definitely make its way into the list if wierd denominations of currencies in the world as its the first bill to have this denomination.
Fot thise who dont know where Hong Kong is,well its the little tiny island right off China,well then lets know more about this note.Standard Chartered bank has has printed 1 million of the 150-Hong-Kong-dollar notes, worth $19.35 each,that price stated is the face value.The price the banknis selling them for is much higher since theyre first in the world,150th anniversary and few other factors i guess,so theyre selling it for HKD280.A markup which is not too high and 1 million of these notes have been printed for sale.

The bank has invited people to apply for the new notes from Wednesday, offering them as collectors items with prices of 280 Hong Kong dollars each and up. Some notes bearing what are considered lucky serial numbers, such as 888888, are to be auctioned in October with a minimum bid of 3,000 Hong Kong dollars per note.

Money from the sale of the notes is to go to local charities in what Standard Chartered has described as a "creative tribute" to the people of Hong Kong. Standard Chartered began operations in Hong Kong in 1859, six years after it was founded, and is the oldest of the three note-issuing banks in the city. The other two are HSBC Holdings Plc and the Bank of China Ltd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New south Korean banknote

South Korea plans to released a new 50,000 Won note in May or June 2009. Worth only about US$35, this note, however, is 5 times more than current highest denomination, the 10,000 Won note featuring King Sejong.Chochungdo, a painting genre initiated by Shin Saimdang, depicting plants and insects

She is the first woman to appear on a South Korean banknote, the 50,000 won note to be issued in 2009. Critics, however, have criticised her selection as reinforcing sexist stereotypes about women's roles.The note features Shin Saim-dang (1504-1551), painter, author, and mother of the great philosopher Yul-gok, also known as Yi I (1536-1584).

Chochungdo, a painting genre initiated by Shin Saimdang, depicting plants and insects

Sin Saimdang (1504-1551) was a Korean artist and calligraphist, and the mother of the Confucian scholar Yulgok. She is often held up as a model of Confucian ideals. Her respectful nickname was Eojin Eomeoni (어진 어머니; "Wise Mother"). With her help, Yulgok became a respectable scholar.

The sizes of the Korean bank notes have recently been changed. The higher the denomination, the bigger the size. The new 50,000 Won will be 6mm bigger than the 10,000 Won note.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prostitutes on Euro banknotes

Position of Ukraine
I recently heard about certain Euro banknotes being altered while searching for some information about Euro banknotes and yes the title says it all. Apparentlypeople has begun to notice some Euro banknotes containing the image of a women presumably prostitutes. The first thing that came into my mind was, well this must be some guy playing some prank for his own amusement, however as I dug deeper, I found out that these were fake notes with a message directed to women. Now you must be asking, why were these women of the night placed on one of the strongest currency of the world and now you will know why.

( A major problem in Ukraine)
Apparently these notes were altered as a part of a sex trade campaign to discourage women from the Ukraine, once part of the Soviet Union. The images, which are otherwise almost indistinguishable from the genuine notes, have been produced as part of a campaign to prevent women from the former Soviet state from seeking to work illegally in the EU. These banknotes show under-dressed women obviously prostitutes leaning against the grand examples of European architecture that have been printed on the currency's bills since its launch in 2002.(What a way to respect national monuments in Europe!!).

There is a message at the left side of the note in Russian warning about the real price of seeking black market employment abroad are printed across the top of the “fake” notes. However let us wonder for a while how this tactic could actually work in preventing women from joining the sex trade as these notes look more like a brochure for tourists informing them that Ukraine has prostitutes for them to hire and might even cause an influx of tourists looking for pleasure and women with no money are attracted to join the sex trade.

The image and message is quite small and would need bionic sight or a magnifying glass to see these minuscule figures for they are hardly of a size to reveal anything, let alone send a stark warning and lets think for one moment,how many of us actually look closely at our banknotesAnd one can wonder how this tactic could either persuade prostitutes to not sell their bodies for sex or maybe even excite teenage boys to start collecting them for their own nocturnal activities. Who in the world actually examines the minute details on banknotes save those obsessed with notaphilia?

Now a littlemore info regarding the banknote and the sex trade campaign The images, which are otherwise almost indistinguishable from the genuine notes, have been produced as part of a campaign to prevent women from the former Soviet state from seeking to work illegally in the EU. They show underdressed women – obviously prostitutes – leaning against the grand examples of European architecture that have been printed on the currency's bills since its launch in 2002.
(Only the 5,10 and 50 Euro notes(fake) are used to send the message)

Messages warning about the real price of seeking black market employment abroad are printed across the top of the “fake” notes. Sex trafficking is a serious problem in the Ukraine. Last year the International Organization for Migration estimated that 117,000 Ukrainians had been forced into prostitution or indentured labour abroad since 1991, more than any other Eastern European country.

Women who are trafficked abroad illegally are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, with the criminal gangs who arrange their transport often refusing to return their passports.Prostitution is widespread in the Ukraine, which is home to more than 12,000 sex workers. The rise of sex tourism, fuelled by wealthy visitors from the US and the EU, sparked demonstrations from students in the capital Kiev this summer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Biggest banknote in the world

Now here is one banknote which is much more suitable for framing up on the wall than using it for a purchase goods thanks to its staggering size and value as well as its denomination.Its even in the Guiness Book of Records.Info on the money and the event on the money.

Front-"Cry of Pugadlawin", when about 1,000 Filipino patriots led by Andres Bonifacio gathers in Pugadlawin, on august 23, 1896. They tore up their Spanish-issued residence certificates and yelled "Long live the Philippines", signalling the start of a revolt against Spain

Back-proclamation of the Philippine Declaration of Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898
Size-356mm x 216mm(8.5 by 14 inches)

The note was issued in1998 during the Centennial of Philippine Independence to mark centennial of independence from more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.The note is also accredited by the Guinness World Records as the world's largest legal tender note in terms of size.

Produced in Germany, the banknote has 21 security features making it very hard to counterfeit. Only 1,000 of these notes were issued. Originally offered to collectors at a pre-issue price of 180,000 Piso ($4175), its current catalog value is $3500. On release, this collector's item was sold at P180,000.
The profits were used to fund events for the June 12 1998 centennial celebration Today, it is worth many times more.

Andres Bonifacio y de Castro(Nov 30,1863-May 10,1897) ), son of Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro, was a Filipino revolutionary leader and one of the main rebel leaders of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonial rule in the late 19th century.
He is regarded as the "Father of the Philippine Revolution" and one of the most influential national heroes of his country.A freemason Bonifacio was the founder of the Katipunan organization which aimed to start an independence movement against Spain.In the end,He was summarily tried then executed promptly at a mountain in Maragondon, Cavite for treason by rival Emilio Aguinaldo

A little about the Republic of The Philippines
Capital-ManilaPopulation-90.5million(2008 estimate)12th
Religion-Predominantly Christian,Islam and others
National anthem-Lupang Hinirang(Chosen Land)
Motto-Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa
(For God, For People, For Nature and For Country)
The name Philippines and its Spanish counterpart, Filipinas, are derived from the name of Phillip 2, the King of Spain in the late 16th century.Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos used the name Las Islas Filipinas in honor of the then-Crown Prince during his expedition to the Philippines.First colonized by the Spanish,then the Americans followed by the Japanese in WW2 and then the Americans again.Philippines was granted independence in 4 July 1946 by USA(The same date as the American Independence)

"The one who uses the note will have a hard time finding a wallet huge enough to put it in and the one who receives the note will have a hard time finding enough change to be returned to the customer"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Swiss Dinar

Perhaps when you hear the words Swiss dinars,you would wonder and say the Swiss currency is Francs not dinars.But it does not refer to money used in Switzerland but it is a term to describe Iraqi currency printed in Switzerland using Swiss plates before the Gulf War of 1990 with the US.After the war the UN imposed economic sanctions and importing the Swiss printed banknotes became prohibited and the Central Bank of Iraq began printing the new Iraqi dinar locally and in China.

After the Gulf War Iraq was divided into two parts,the north ruled by Saddam and the south governed by local Kurds.Saddam needed money to finance spending and he created it with his face on it and ordered the printing of the new notes.In May 1993 the Central Bank of Iraq announced that the old 25 dinar notes should be exchanged with the new Saddam dinar in three weeks time.

During the next few years, so many Saddam dinars were printed in southern Iraq that they became virtually worthless. The face value of cash in circulation rose from 22 billion dinars in 1991 to 584 billion in four years, and inflation averaged about 250 percent a year over that period.The Swiss dinar was in fixed supply while tha Saddam dinar was printed at an increasing rate so the Swiss dinar became more valuable By spring 2003, it took 300 Saddam dinars to buy one Swiss dinar.By spring 2003, it took 300 Saddam dinars to buy one Swiss dinar.
In fall 2002, as it became more and more likely that the United States would invade, the Swiss dinar became more and more valuable.

There was a belief that the Swiss dinar would be honoured by future governments(US). The Kurdish regional government was right. On July 7, 2003, the American occupation administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, announced the creation of a new Iraqi dinar that would be exchanged for the two existing currencies at a rate that implied that one Swiss dinar would be worth 150 Saddam dinars.The exchange rate during US occupation is this for the new banknotes
1 Saddam dinar=1 new Iraq dinar
1 Swiss dinar=150 new iraq dinar

Imagine keeping the old Malaysian Ringgit and finding out that it is worth more than the new Ringgit.

Here are the Swiss dinars
The difference between this notes and the Saddam dinar is it has a watermark,feeling of raised figures and words and quality