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World’s largest poker table

Now this is what I call poker for the big boys.

Built in 2007 for the promotion of a movie called Wise Guys On Texas Hold’Em, this giant poker table is 30 feet long and 12 feet wide making it the largest poker table ever built. I don’t know what happened to it after the whole movie promotion thing ended but I’m pretty sure it’s still kept as an attraction or maybe just in case some players want to play at a…whole other level.

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Kinkaku – The Golden Pavilion

A building partially covered with real gold.

Built in 1397 as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinkaku is a three-story building, with the last two, fully covered with pure gold leaf. The temple was set on fire by a monk in 1950, but it was restored and the new gold coating dating from 1987 is much thicker than the original one.

Kinkaku is one of Japan’s most beautiful attractions and it serves as a “shariden”, a place where relics of Buddha are stored.

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Ice Flowers

One of the most beautiful frozen wonders on Earth, ice flowers are still a mystery to many people.

Ice flowers are formed on new layers of sea ice, from saturated water vapors that come up from under the ice through cracks. In contact with the cold air, the vapors start to freeze and the salt on the surface of the ice begins to crystallize and serves as a nucleus for the frozen vaporized water. Thus, molecule by molecule the ice flowers begin to take shape. They have recently been recognized as the dominant source of sea salt aerosol in Antarctica and scientist suspect they may be the main cause of tropospheric ozone depletion during the polar sunrise.

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The Time Wheel

This is the world’s largest hourglass.

Unveiled on May 1st 2004 to commemorate Hungary’s entrance in the European Union, The Time Wheel is made out of red granite, steel and bullet-proof glass and it combines one of humanity’s most primitive time measuring devices with a very precise computer. It lies in Budapest near the entrance to City Park. The sand in the hourglass flows from one side of the device to the other for an entire year and the last grains are programmed to flow exactly at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The flow is then turned manually so that it can start measuring time for another year. It takes 45 minutes for 4 people to turn it 180 degrees using metal cables.

The Time Wheel hourglass was designed by Istvan Janaki.

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Teeth paintings

Don’t you love to see original art?

And painting on teeth is pretty original, even if some may find them a bit disturbing. I have to say I’m pretty scared of the dentist, but if I ever have a tooth removed this is definitely what I want to do with it, turn something painful into something beautiful.

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The Skeleton Bar

I bet you feel like you’re having a drink in a bar built by the Alien.

And in a way, you kind of are, because this odd-looking establishment was designed by Hans Rudi Giger (HR Giger), who worked as a designer on the Alien movies, receiving multiple awards, including an OSCAR for best special effects.

I must say Giger did great work on this museum-bar, you must feel like you’re somewhere in the Alien universe or inside the skeleton of a monster. In any case it’s very original and refreshing, I for one love it!

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The tree-house restaurant

Now that’s a hell of an idea to attract customers.

This Okinawa Tree-House restaurant, on Highway 58 at the entrance in Onoyama Park in the south of Japan. What may look like a genuine tree is actually a man-made concrete structure, just like the French used to build in the lathe 19th century. Customers actually have to get in an elevator inside the “trunk” to reach the restaurant. I have to say it’s a pretty original idea and the work on the tree is amazing, I couldn’t tell it was fake the first time I saw it.

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Le petit Paris

This guy must really love the city of love!

This man is Gerard Brion, he spent 15 years of his life building this model of Paris. Now that’s what I call a true patriot!

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World’s tallest LEGO tower

This toy tower brings back memories…

If you’re lucky enough to be living near Legoland Windsor, in England, than you’ll be able to examine this toy wonder in person. It may look pointless but this baby climbed its way into the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Tallest LEGO tower. The former record was of 96 feet but the Legoland Windsor tower measures a whopping 100 feet. It was built to resemble a Viking longboat mast, to mark the inauguration of the land of Vikings attraction in the theme park, but also to celebrate 50 years of LEGO.

The tower was built by children, one 20 cm portion at a time, portions that were then lifted by a crane and it took almost half a million LEGO pieces to build. The tower is held in place by wires.

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The art of stone balancing

I know it looks impossible, but it really isn’t…

You’re probably thinking something like “myeah, another fake set of images” but I assure you they are all the real deal. Actually stone balancing is a very old art, passed on from generation to generation and frequently practiced for a number of reasons. Some do it in exhibitions, just to show off their talents, while others perform rock balancing as a meditating ritual (Korean Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Yoga).

No matter the reason it is performed for, stone stacking or balancing is simply amazing, just for the fact that it defies all logic and probably even physics, I don’t know, I’m not really into science…

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Swimming through the grass

Not a monument like I originally thought, but cool nontheless

Commissioned and unveiled last year by the Discovery Channel to promote one of its reality shows, London Ink, this giant swimmer swims his way through the grass on the South Bank of the river Thames, near Tower Bridge. first time I saw this work of art I thought it was meant to symbolize something like the British ambition or competitive spirit, not a lousy advertisement scheme. Oh well, at least it looks cool.

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Fooling gravity

That’s what I’d say this man is doing through his performances.

Johan Lorbeer is a German performing artist that became famous in his home country through his Still Life street shows. Through a very ingenious optical illusion, Lorbeer makes it seem like he is defying gravity just by leaning off buildings. Try to guess how he pulls this stunt off and learn if you guessed right by looking at the last photo.

Although he is clearly a brilliant artist and has been performing for quite some time, Johan Lorbeer is still semi-unknown on an international level. Here’s a link to his personal page.

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Easter Eggs-building models

An unusual building-models exhibition took place in Kiev recently, with famous national landmarks being built out of Easter eggs. It took almost 17.000 eggs to recreate Saint Sophia Cathedral and a city of castles Kamenets-Podolsky. The roof of the cathedral has been painted gold. The eggs of this Ukrainian egg-map will be given as souvenirs after the gallery closes.
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Swallow’s Nest Castle

A great architectural wonder built on the edge of a cliff.

Swallow’s Nest is an ornamental castle built in Yalta, Crimea peninsula, Ukraine, built between 1911-1912 by Russian architect Leonid Sherwood. It lies on the 130foot-high Aurora Cliff, overlooking the Black Sea. Over time it has been a restaurant, a reading club headquarters and, lately, a very popular tourist attraction. In 1927 it survived a strong earthquake (between 6 and 7 on the Richter scale) with only a few decorative elements falling in the sea, but the cliff itself developed a huge crack, so access to the Swallow’s Nest was restricted for almost 40 years. In 1968 the castle was renovated and a monolithic concrete plate console was used to strengthen the cliff.

I love the way it looks, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting a place that looks like it could fall into the see any second.

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Color-painted human skulls

That’s right, in this Austrian town, when you can’t bury bones, you paint them.

Hallstatt is a very small town in Austria with a very interesting ossuary, definitely the town’s biggest tourist attraction. The story behind it goes like this: Back in the 16th century, Hallstatt’s small cemetery had reached its limit and the people there had to come up with a solution. So people who died were only buried in the cemetery for 10-12 years, after which their bones were dugg up, bleached in the sunlight for a few months, then painted with the person’s name, dates of birth and death and some decorations and, finally placed in the ossuary.

The city is much smaller now and most of the people are cremated anyway, but this practice still take place on request, the latest of the 1200 skulls dates back to 1997. In the old days all the bones were placed in the ossuary, but these days its getting pretty crowded in there so only the skulls are allowed.

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