A Cathedral Made from 55,000 LED Lights at Ghent Light Festival

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Created by Cagna Illumiations, the light cathedral made from 55,000 LEDs, for the 2012 Ghent Light Festival is one of the most beautiful light displays you’ll ever see.

Designed as a symbolic entrance to the Ghent Light Festival, the colorful cathedral imagined by Italian company Luminarie De Cagna stole the show at this year’s event. The gigantic colonnade was adorned with around 55,000 colorful LED bulbs that shine so bright you’d think they consume enough electricity to power a small town, but in reality, the entire installation consumes only 20 Kwatt/h. Inspired by Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, the LED cathedral towered 28 meters high.

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Woman Marries 107-Year-Old Warehouse to Save It from Demolition

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Babylonia Aivaz, from Seattle, fell in love with an old warehouse where she and other activists protested inside the building, during an Occupy Seattle event. Now, the 107-year-old facility has been scheduled for demolition, so Aivaz decided to marry it to show her love, and hopefully save it.

It sounds like a pretty bizarre situation, especially after you read all the jokes and comments by various media outlets, regarding Babylonia Aivaz’s decision to marry a warehouse. Some joke about the awkward wedding night, others about the solid foundation of their relationship, but the fact is she’s doing it as a form of protest against gentrification. ‘I’m doing this to show the building how much I love it, how much I love community space and how much I love this neighborhood. And I want to stop it from gentrification,’ Aivaz said in an interview. ‘If corporations can have the rights as people, so can buildings,’ she added, referencing a Supreme Court decision on political advertising.

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Rent-a-Girlfriend Services Are Becoming Popular in China

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In recent years, young men and women pressed by their families to bring their girlfriends home with them for the seven-day Spring Festival prefer to rent total strangers, just to avoid long lectures and appease their relatives.

Single men and women have it tough in China, a country where most parents go to any lengths to see their offspring settled down with the right person. We’ve had posts about a school teaching girls to land rich powerful businessmen, about Shanghai’s famous marriage market, and about the Love Supermarket, but those were permanent fixes to the being-single “problem”. Nowadays, Chinese bachelors are looking for a temporary solution, and this led to the creation of a whole new niche – girlfriend/boyfriend rentals. All they have to do is go online, access Taobao (China’s version of eBay) and choose between the different sellers offering the unusual service.

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Calligrapher Works Five Years Making 500 Kg Qur’an

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The world’s largest copy of the Qur’an was recently unveiled in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was created painstakingly by calligrapher Mohammed Sabir Khedri and his 9 assistants, over five long years. The massive project was undertaken by Khedri in an attempt to prove that the rich traditions and heritage of the nation have certainly not been destroyed by war.

The giant Qur’an is made with beautiful gold scripting that also combines millions of tiny colorful dots to create symbolic decorations around the pages. Khedri said he wanted to use as many tasteful colors as possible to make the holy book look beautiful. Interestingly, he had actually completed the project in 2009, and kept it a secret for two whole years. This was because the binding and the room to house the book weren’t ready yet. Khedri’s masterpiece is now stored in a cultural center in Kabul that was founded in the 1980s. The final copy consists of 218 pages and measures 2.28 x 1.55 m. It weighs a whopping 500kg and the skin of 21 goats was used to create the cover. It’s estimated cost is around £300,000 ($465,000).

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Random Acts of Kindness at Pay It Forward Coffee Shop

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Imagine you go into a coffee shop, have a cup, and when it comes to paying your bill they tell you it’s already been paid for. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening at the Corner Perk Cafe in Bluffton, South Carolina. It all started in 2010 with a random act of kindness.

The Corner Perk was just a regular coffee place until one day, when a customer left a $100 bill with the owner, Josh Cooke. Apparently she wanted the money to be used to pay for the drinks of all the people who came in after, until it runs out. According to Cooke it was “just to let them know, you know, that somebody was wanting them to have a great day and just to let them know to pay it forward.” Needless to say, customers who came in all afternoon were puzzled when they found they didn’t have to pay for their coffee.

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Heartbreaking: Thai Man Marries Dead Girlfriend

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In this tragic love story from Thailand, a man decided to  go ahead with the wedding he and his girlfriend had planned, even though she sadly died in a car crash, just day before the big event.

29-year old Sarinya Kamsook and her 28-year-old boyfriend, Chadil Deffy, were to be married this year. A wedding is considered the most special event of a woman’s life and it was no different for Sarinya. She was eagerly counting the days to the moment when she would finally say ‘I do’, along with the love of her life, but fate had other plans for the young couple. Merely days before the wedding, Sarinya was involved in a car crash, leaving her severely injured. She still could have been saved with timely medical attention. However, the doctors made her wait for 6 hours due to an overcrowded ICU instead of transferring her to another hospital. During this time, she succumbed to her injuries and passed away.

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Who Needs Privacy: 5 People Live in Paris Subway Station Apartment

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Here’s another example of a bizarre business promotional strategy. This time it’s by IKEA and they actually took over a Paris subway station.

In a bid to prove that with IKEA furnishing you can make any living space comfortable, the company erected an apartment right in the middle of the Auber station in Paris. It was only 581 sq ft. in size and five people lived in it for five days (Jan 9th to 14th). The company tried a similar event around two years back when they decked subway platforms with IKEA furnishings, but this took things a step forward. Or maybe a giant leap. The apartment mainly consisted of IKEA storage products, clearly aiming at space management. Plain to view through huge clear-glass windows for the hundreds of thousands of people who use the subway, their publicity stunt sure didn’t miss any eyeballs. Time-lapse videos have been made of the construction of the apartment. Videos documenting the experiences of the five people living there have also been put up by the company.

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The Berezka Ensemble – Russia’s Floating Dance Group

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Trade secrets are common in many areas of life, but dancing? I wondered how it could be possible for a dancer to have a secret step, when their art is plain for all to see. Turns out there is a particular dancing group from Russia that has a secret technique – the floating step – that no one can really see.

The Berezka Ensemble was set up in 1948, by choreographer Nadezhda Nadezhdina. Since then, it has become a symbol of sorts, something that Russia has been identified with. Having traveled to over 80 countries for performances, the troupe has recently made the news for something other than their famous floating step. The dancers have covered over 47,000 dancing kilometers, through their signature step. That’s longer than the diameter of the Earth!

Photo © Berezkadance.ru ..

Chinese Women Train Hard to Become Professional Bodyguards

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While many men may find it odd to have a woman protect them, the Chinese have no such qualms. How else could you explain the huge demand for female bodyguards? In fact, they are paid much higher than their male counterparts.

Tianjiao Special Guard Consultant Ltd is perhaps the first firm to provide open group training in China for female bodyguards. Each trainee is put through 10 months of rigorous instruction during which time they gain skills in martial arts, anti-terrorism training, reconnaissance and business etiquette. The best student could be invited to study further at the International Security Academy in Israel.A four-week training program at the beach forms a part of the 10-month curriculum.

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

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Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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Blind Tennis – Yet Another Amazing Sport from Japan

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The Japanese really do seem to invent a lot of sports, especially for the disabled. Not long ago, we told you about Doglegs, a wrestling sport for the handicapped. Now, we’re going to introduce you to Blind Tennis, which is of course, tennis played by the blind.

The creation of the sport is largely credited to Miyoshi Takei, who in spite of his blindness, started to play tennis as a kid with the encouragement of his high school teacher. His only aim at the time was to hit a ball that was flying through the air as hard as he could, even though he couldn’t see it. After several trials, he finally invented a special kind of tennis ball that is spongy and light in weight. The ball rattles, so that blind players can track its movement with their ears. Miyoshi’s endeavors met with success and the first national blind tennis championships were held in Japan in the year 1990. Today, hundreds of Japanese players take part every year and a few from other countries too, such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Britain and the United States.

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Bamboo Drift Racing – A Combination of Speed and Balance

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I couldn’t stand still on a cane of bamboo even if it was on land. To think that there are people who can balance themselves on a bamboo pole floating in water! It’s probably the world’s thinnest boat.

Bamboo Drift Racing is actually a sport in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. Competitors stand on a bamboo pole and paddle using a thin stick of bamboo. Considered an exotic minority sport in China, the rules have changed over the years. In fact, although the tradition is to use bamboo, competitors now use a similar-looking strip made from green fiberglass. This offers better buoyancy and makes the boat more durable . The fiberglass sticks also help increase speed, and can be taken apart with ease later on. Still wondering how in the world it’s possible to row while standing on a stick? The trick, apparently, lies in the waist. All the balancing is done by controlling the bamboo using your waistline.

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Top 10 Most Unusual Christmas Trees of 2011

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Every December, we hear reports of bizarre Christmas trees in the making, and on display. We bring you a roundup of 10 of the most unusual trees that caught our attention in the Christmas season of 2011.

The Japanese Gold Tree

We’ve previously featured this tree made completely of pure Gold, here on OC. A creation of Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka, the tree is worth $2 million and unusual enough to make it to our top 10. It weighs 12 kg, is 2.4 m high, and is decorated with plates, ornaments and ribbons – all made of gold. Talk about a golden Christmas!

Mysterious Female Superhero Helps Beijing’s Poor

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Ever fancied meeting up with a superhero? Well you could have, had you been in Beijing this past Christmas Eve. For that was the day a real-life superhero walked the streets of the city, helping out the poor. She calls herself the ‘Chinese Redbud Woman’.

Dressed in low-cut black tights and wearing a blue mask, her pictures leave us wondering if she attracted attention for more than just her generosity. Jokes aside, she did do a pretty good job of helping out – handing out food, warm clothing and gifts to beggars and homeless people. Why she didn’t put on some of the warm clothing herself on a cool December night, is something we don’t have an answer to. The appearance of this mysterious woman did cause a stir of sorts among the residents of Beijing. People started talking about her on the internet and in local media. Pictures of her acts of kindness at public places such as the Xidan subway station and in front of the Wangfujing bookstore have been doing the rounds ever since the night of Christmas Eve. The superlady herself communicates with the world through a microblog, written in Chinese. She currently has over 7,000 fans online.

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Bavarian Villagers Build Church Entirely Out of Snow

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A church built entirely out of snow and ice – sounds magical, and looks pretty too. It was built this year in the Bavarian forest by the villagers of Mitterfirmiansreut, Germany. Located close to the Czech border, the church is bathed in a beautiful blue light. It was opened to public on Wednesday evening, blessed by Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser. Although the villagers had hoped to have it open before Christmas, the lack of sufficient snow caused a delay in their project.

The snow church was constructed in commemoration of a similar church built in 1911, exactly 100 years ago. The older one was actually a sign of protest. In those days, the nearest church was in Mauth, a 90-minute hike away, which wasn’t always easy to complete. The residents of the secluded Mitterfirmiansreut village then came up with the idea to build the snow church, in the hope that it would draw attention to their plight. The winter of 1910/1911 was rich in snow, and the construction of the church began in Feb, 1911. Both men and women worked hard to place blocks of solid snow bricks, building a strong and sturdy church. The final structure was 14m long , 7m wide and 4m high. The first worship was held on the 28th of March, 1911.

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