The Amazing Tree Houses of the Korowai Tribe

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In our part of the world, grown-ups are known to build tree houses for their kids, but there exists a parallel culture on this very planet, where the grown-ups themselves live in tree houses. I’m talking about the Korowai tribe of Papua, Indonesia, that has engineered and survived in towering tree homes as high as 114 feet above the ground. The tribe inhabits an inaccessible jungle located 150 km inland from the Arafura Sea, and was completely isolated from the world, until 1974, when they were discovered by a Dutch missionary. The Korowai tribe consists of a small society of traditional family ties, hunter gatherers who have been quite popular with the press for their cannibalistic tendencies.

However, what’s most fascinating about the Korowai people is the way they have designed their homes. There are a few reasons why they live up in the trees – to protect themselves from swarming mosquitoes, evil spirits, and of course, troublesome neighbors. What better way to escape the pesky next-door-neighbor than to hide up in a tree? Ideally, a Korowai tree house is constructed in a clearing, with a large Banyan or Wambom tree serving as the main pole. Once a suitable tree has been located, its top is removed. The floor frame is laid down first, made from branches and covered with sago palm. Walls and a roof are added, bound together with raffia. Additional poles are added to the corners for extra support. The average tree home ranges between 8 to 12 meters above ground level, but some go as high as 35 meters. Each house is sturdy enough to accommodate up to a dozen people.

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Illustrator Documents Her Shopping for the Last 6 Years by Drawing Her Everyday Purchases

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From everyday groceries to household appliances and rare souvenirs, artist Kate Bingaman-Burt, from Portland, Oregon, keeps track of everything she buys by making silly drawings of something she purchases every day. She started this habit six years ago and has since then published two volumes of a book on the topic, called Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today?

Kate Bingaman-Burt is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, but she’s also interested in modern consumerism. In 2002, she started documenting her shopping by photographing everything she purchased, and continued doing so every day until 2004. Then, she decided to combine her artistic talents with her interest in everyday consumption by replacing the photos with drawings she did herself. For the last six years, she has been making drawings of at least an item she buys every single day. The six years of the project have been compressed in two volumes of a book entitled Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today? published by Princeton Architectural Press, but can also be viewed online, on Kate’s official website.

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Tianducheng – A Small Piece of Paris, Made in China

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It appears that the Chinese have tired of imitating objects, so they’ve now moved on to entire cities. How else could you explain the gated community of Tianducheng, that boasts its very own Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and European-style villas? Located near Hangzhou, the capital of the coastal Zhejiang province, the community built by real estate company Zhejiang Guangsha Co. Ltd. in 2007 is a housing development meant to attract China’s rich and powerful. The developers apparently wanted to give the wealthy Chinese a chance to enjoy European culture without actually having to travel thousands of miles.  It took five years of meticulous construction and landscaping to create the entire 19 sq. km (12 sq. mile) community.

According to Lu Xiaotian, the company’s director, “The community can house up to 10,000 people comfortably.” Apart from the obvious touristy feel, the community also provides amenities ranging from a school, a country club and a hospital. All this, in the midst of the serene surroundings of a park atmosphere. The real estate group has largely capitalized on the fact that Chinese honeymooners tend to flock to Paris, and also that French designer labels and wine are popular status symbols in major Chinese cities. So the community of Tianducheng gives residents the opportunity to sit on the steps by their very own Bassin de Latone, a cleverly done imitation of the famous fountain located in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. They can also admire the Eiffel Tower, which is a 108 m high replica of the 324 m original, in their very own neighborhood. Apart from the obvious imitations of famous monuments, there are the Parisienne-style gardens surrounded by rows and rows of European-style villas.

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Russian Artist’s Paintings Are Made with Dead Butterfly Wings

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Vadim Zaritsky, a former police officer turned artist and entomologist uses a very strange medium for his artworks – butterfly wings. The subjects of his unique paintings range from landscapes and still life to portraits of political figures and famous artists.

I know it sounds cruel, but before you label Vadim Zaritsky’s art as a crime against nature, you should know he only uses the wings of dead butterflies that died en masse he finds on the paths and roads around his home city of Lipetsk, 438 kilometers southeast of Moscow, and dead specimens donated by fellow butterfly collectors. “Butterfly collectors know that some wings are considered – collectors call it trash,” Zaritsky says. “If the wings are damaged, if they have partially faded, specialists would usually put them aside. It’s a shame to throw them away but you cannot use them either. In time, the bits may become infested with pests and you have to throw everything away anyway.” One day it occurred to him that these pieces could be recycled into art instead of simply throwing them away. So he began using these discarded wings as a medium for his art, and in the last five years he has created over 100 works of art of varying size and theme. The Russian entomologist takes between a week and several months to complete a single butterfly wing painting.

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Designer Creates Fashionable Dresses Out of Thousands of Colorful Rubber Bands

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Bulgarian-born designer Margarita Mileva spends around 90 hours painstakingly knotting rubber bands together to create wearable dresses. Her latest creation numbers 18,500 rubber bands.

The first time we featured Margarita Mileva on OC was back in 2011, when she created a stunning pastel dress out of 14,235 pieces of rubbery office supplies. She beat that record by knotting together a 10-kilogram garment from orange and black rubber bands, inspired by the spirit of Polynesia and the tattoos of the Maori. It took 150 hours to complete, and comes with matching rubber band shoes. “I always had an eye for jewelry and love to design clothes, knit and make collages,” 49-year-old Mileva says. “So when I started making jewelry from reusing paperclips, punched business cards and rubber bands, it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Rubber band dresses were the next step – I am trying to create unique pieces that I would like to be seen as conversation openers.”

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Carbeque – Barbeque Installed in a Car Gives “To Go” a Whole New Meaning

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What do you get when you put together a passion for cars and a love for barbeque? Well, a Carbeque, of course. A vehicle that’s perhaps the only one of its kind, the Carbeque looks just as cool as it sounds. Owned by Australian Radio personality Merrick Watts, the car itself is based around a 1973 Ford Langau, powered by a 351 V8 with extractors, and styled similar to the ones used in Mel Gibson’s ‘Mad Max’ movies. The only difference here is that the trunk comes with a fully functional grill. According to Watts, the Carbeque is the answer to the question that’s been plaguing people since the first tailgating party. “How many times are you driving somewhere, and there’s nowhere you can have a barbeque,” he says. But with the Carbeque, “you just pull over, and you start cooking.”

Watts was recently signed on as the face of Meat & Livestock Australia’s promotional campaign. As a part of the promotional activities, the Carbeque was unveiled in Parrmatta Mall on the 26th of November, last year. Just before he powered up the car for the first time at the unveiling, he said, “It’s balls-out amazing! I took our entire marketing budget. It’s not just a car, I introduced the world’s first CARBEQUE!” While describing the car, Watts said, “Half car, half barbeque! It’s integrated, it’s part of its genetic make-up, it’s been spliced with a barbeque. You open up the boot, and out comes a cantilevered barbeque, the greatest barbeque you’ve ever seen. Not some ratty little hot plate thing, a full blown barbeque.” Well, it has to be, considering that Watts spent a whopping $156,000 (the money meant for marketing his show, Merrick and the Highway Patrol), on the car. According to the show’s producer Elle Conwell, “We can cook 9 (10.5 ounce) T-Bone steaks at one time. The Carbeque can pump out around 35 pounds of steak within the hour, or around 200 sausages. The roasting hood means that this Carbeque is ideal for cooking multiple dogs at anytime – depends on your taste. Maybe three Chihuahuas or one larger German Shepherd!”

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Mind-Blowing Landmark Artworks Are Made Exclusively with Doodles

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If you think doodling is just child’s play, you definitely haven’t seen Sagaki Keita’s works yet. This amazing Japanese artist can recreate virtually anything from classic statues and paintings to famous landmarks using thousands of tiny doodles.

We first discovered Sagaki Keita’s talent two years ago, when he took the art world by storm with his doodle recreations of famous masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, and now we’re featuring his work for the third time. The Tokyo-based artist has recently created a series of international landmark drawings, which when seen from a far seem to be really god pen drawings. But a closer inspection reveals countless entertaining characters doodled on to the canvas. It obviously takes mountains of patience to fill every inch of the white canvas with goofy drawings, and even to create well-placed shadows, but the final result is nothing short of awe-inspiring. His latest works include doodle recreations of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and The Great Wave, by Hokusai.

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Creepy White Chocolate Baby Heads Are Surprisingly Popular

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I’m a big fan of white chocolate, but not even the strongest sweets craving couldn’t make me take a bite out of Annabel de Vetten’s creepy baby heads. They’re way too scary for me, but according to the English food artist they’re quite a hit at parties and baby showers.

The disturbing white chocolate artworks were originally designed as a private commission, but apparently they came out so good that Annabel decided to make several more. Then, her works were discovered by strange cake curator Miss Cakehead, who also brought the infamous STD Cupcakes to our attention, and now the eerily realistic newborn baby heads are a popular chocolate treat. ”I just pictured ‘dead, milky eyes and skin’ and hit the nail on the so to speak. And creased the mold while it was setting to get a soft, ‘damaged’ effect. So, strangely enough, no challenge! I was a little worried some might think this is going a bit too far. But it’s only chocolate and if someone doesn’t like the shape it’s in, they can just go buy a Mars bar,” de Vetten told HuffPost.

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Ghost Money – Currency of the Afterlife

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If there is indeed such a thing as afterlife, the Chinese and Vietnamese might just be the richest people there. And that’s because their living relatives make sure they are well provided for – by throwing money into flames. Well, not real money. Only fake notes. This fake money is commonly known as ghost money, “Joss paper” and as ‘pinyin’ (literally ‘shade’ or ‘dark’ money) in Chinese. The ghost money, along with other papier-mâché items (usually expensive stuff) are burned as a part of Chinese tradition – on holidays to venerate the deceased, and also at funerals, to make sure that the spirits have plenty of good things in the afterlife.

Traditionally, Joss paper is made from coarse bamboo paper or rice paper. The Joss is cut into squares or rectangles and has a thin piece of square foil glued in the center. Sometimes, it is even endorsed with a traditional Chinese red ink seal depending on the particular region. The paper is generally of a white color (symbolizing mourning) and the foil is either silver or gold (representing wealth), hence the name, ghost money. The three types of ghost money are copper (for newly deceased spirits and spirits of the unknown), gold (for the deceased and the higher gods), and silver (for ancestral spirits and local deities). Sometimes Joss paper is completely gold, engraved with towers or ingots. The burning of joss paper is not done casually, but with a certain reverence, placed respectfully in a loose bundle. Some other customs involve folding each sheet in a specific manner before burning. The burning is mostly done in an earthenware pot or a chimney built specifically for this purpose.

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California Water Tower Is Actually a Beautiful 3-Storey House

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If you look at the structure located at 1 Anderson Street, Seal Beach, California, you can see nothing but an ordinary water tower. But after a closer inspection you’ll realize it’s not filled with water, but common household items. It was several years ago, when the 100-year-old 9-storeys-tall water tower with a capacity of 75,000 gallons had outlived its purpose and was going to be torn down that a few local architects began taking interest in the structure. The tower was originally used to service steam engines traveling on the California coast. After the trains stopped running, the water tower was rendered useless. It was in danger of being demolished in the 1980s, when the architects stepped in, got permits and converted the tower into a beautiful home.

The process of converting a century-old structure into a home was no easy feat. First, the original water tank had to be removed and placed in a parking lot. After 18 months of renovation, a skilled team of engineers worked together to lift it up and put it back in its original place. A commercial elevator and two jacuzzis were added as the final touches to the 3000 sq ft. house. One of the jacuzzi tubs is actually on the upper deck and provides a view of the ocean. Almost every window in the house is fitted with stained glass. There are also two master bedrooms, a maid’s quarters, and four bathrooms. One of the bathrooms has rotating walls, so you could enter in the bedroom and come out from the hallway. The entertainment room has a 360 degree view, a built-in movie theatre, electric blinds and an indoor fire pit. From one direction you get to see the Pacific Ocean and the Catalina Island, and from another you get a view of the Newport Beach, Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro and San Bernardino Mountains. On a clear day, you can even get a glimpse of Los Angeles.

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Vietnam Festival Is Dedicated to Meeting Ex-Lovers

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Most people cannot stand the thought of their partners even talking to their exes, let alone socializing with them. But things are different in a small community of Vietnam. A yearly ‘love market’ of sorts is held in the hillside village of Khau Vai, 500km north of Hanoi, near the border with China. It takes place each year, on the 26th and the 27th of the third month of the lunar calendar. During these two days, hundreds of ex-lovers from various hill tribes like Nung, Tay, San Chi, Lo Lo, Dzao, Giay and Hmong are reunited. They trek in from various mountainous districts nearby to be able to spend two days with the ones they could not spend their lives with.

This concept might sound extremely unusual to us, and there might be every possibility of a cat-fight breaking out if this unique love festival was held anywhere else in the world. But the people of Khau Vai have a strong reason for the celebrating their love market. It has been a part of their tradition for centuries, originating from a local legend. The story is rather sad – an ethnic Giay girl from Ha Giang had fallen for a Nung boy from Cao Bang., but she is said to have been so beautiful that her tribe did not want her to marry a man from another community. What followed was a bloody war between the two tribes. As the lovers witnessed the tragedy that surrounded their lives, they decided to part ways in the greater interest of peace. But their love did not die there. A secret pact was made between the lovers to meet each other once a year in Khau Vai– on the 27th day of the third Lunar month. The tradition is still being carried on today. On the designated days of the festival, local artists decked up in colorful clothes reenact this tale of forbidden love.

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Loughareema – The Vanishing Lake of Northern Ireland

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When things mysteriously vanish in real life, sadly, there is always a scientific explanation behind it. And that includes Loughareema, the Vanishing Lake located on the coast road, a few miles from the town of Ballycastle, Ireland.

Irish lakes have always been the stuff legends are made of, and Loughareema is no different. At times, you could be driving down the entire stretch of the adjacent Loughareema road, go right to the middle of where the lake is supposed to be, and still not spot it. That’s because it conveniently vanishes from time to time. The trick to catching a good view of the Vanishing Lake is to be there at just the right moment. The lake actually drains itself out to such a degree that passersby wouldn’t even be able to tell that there was ever a lake in that very same spot. The secret behind Loughareema’s vanishing act is the fact that it sits on a leaky chalk-bed, a topographical feature called the ‘chalk ‘plug hole’. The hole sometimes gets jammed with peat, causing the depression to fill with water, which is when the lake is visible to all. When the plug clears, all the water in the lake drains underground at a rapid rate, so no one could ever know about its existence if they hadn’t seen it before.

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South Korea’s Toilet Theme Park

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We’ve seen our share of bizarre theme parks here on OC. Ranging from Hello Kitty to Atomic Reactors, we thought we’d seen it all. Until we heard of this extremely strange and slightly disturbing theme park in South Korea, based on the last place in the world you’d want to be stuck in – the toilet.

The Restroom Cultural Park,  in the city of Suwon, South Korea, is a massive complex dedicated to the humble toilet. The main exhibition hall itself is shaped like a large toilet bowl and the pathway leading up to it is adorned with bronze figures of humans in mid-squat. The facility was opened to public earlier this year and is the only one of its kind in the world. Other indoor exhibits include WC signs from around the world and toilet-themed art. What’s even more interesting than the toilet theme park is the story of its origin. Apparently, the place was initially home to the former Mayor of Suwon, Sim Jae-duck. He died in 2009, but that has not stopped the South Koreans from still regarding him as their very own ‘Mr. Toilet’. This was partly due to the fact that he ran a successful campaign in the 1980s to dramatically improve South Korea’s old toilet system, and also because Mr. Sim was born in his grandmother’s loo. So inspired was he by his place of birth that he built his own house in the shape of a toilet. He, in turn, is said to be the main inspiration behind the theme park.

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Finnjet – A 29-Meter-Long Junk Limousine Worth $1 Million

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What weighs 7,500 pounds, is 29-foot long and made completely from junk scraps? Why, a limousine of course. ‘Finnijet’ belongs to Antti Rahko, a 72-year-old chauffeur from Finland. He immigrated to the US in 1984 and is now a resident of Palm Beach, Florida. It took Rahko 10 whole years to build the limousine from scratch, initially using two Mercedes Benz station wagons joined together, several parts from a 1962 Chrysler Imperial and various components from other vehicles.

The vehicle’s humble beginnings are hardly visible today, but Rakho says the process of building it was never really complete. He just kept adding parts however and whenever he could. “I had my own car shop, I bought and rented cars.” Eventually, he thought if he succeeded in welding two cars together, he would not need to sell more than one car. That’s how the idea for the Finnijet was born. The car is so well appreciated that it won a prize at the Art Car Parade competition in Houston, twice. Earlier this year, it was taken to Europe for the first time, to be shown at the Essen Motor Show. Packed in a 12m long container, the organizers paid all the costs of transportation and even took out a million dollar insurance policy on the car.

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LOTR Fans’ Fantastic Real-Life Hobbit House

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Now here’s a house that all you LOTR fans out there wouldn’t mind spending a few nights in. Or maybe, the rest of your lives. If you’ve been an admirer of the hobbits who inhabited Middle Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, this house is something you’ve got to see. The 600 sq.ft. dwelling was built by architect Peter Archer for his clients – a Chester County couple with grown kids. Lifelong fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, they wanted the house as a worthy shrine for the rare books and Tolkien-inspired memorabilia collected over a period of 30 years of travel in the U.S. and abroad. The stone cottage is tucked away into the Pennsylvania countryside, a picturesque location befitting the hobbit-style house.

Before he took up the project, Archer wasn’t too well versed with the nature of Tolkien’s works, but he caught on rather quickly. “Upon starting the project I read the book The Hobbit and watched the Lord of the Rings movies, but more importantly, looked at the range of writings by Tolkien, including amazing sketches he had done to illustrate his work,” Archer says. “I remember at the start saying that we would be happy to design the structure but we were not going to do a Hollywood interpretation. We wanted it to be timeless. It was built in 2004 but looking at it, you could think it was from 1904 or 1604.” Working closely with another Pennsylvania architect Mark Avellino, he was able to “interpret Tolkien and create the beautiful details that make this such a special building.” He also credits the host of builders and landscape artists who put in every effort possible into the making of what has come to be known as the ‘Hobbit House’.

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