Toughest race in the world

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That’s what the organizers say anyway.

Welcome to the world of lunatics and masochists – that’s what it says when you visit the “About” page on the official site of Le Marathon des Sables. And I don’t think they’re just saying that, I think they mean it. After all we are talking about 243 km of desert over a period of 6 days. That’s 5 and a half normal marathons of running through the sand, with a backpack on, in a temperature of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

You have to prepare your own food, so be careful what you bring with you as well as set up a tent to camp out over night in the unwelcoming Sahara desert. Food is rationed and handed out at specific checkpoints, so you have to reach them in order to get some water. Equipment is apparently very important as the rough terrain can do irreparable damage to your feet ( you’ll be running on uneven, rocky, stony ground as well as sand dunes).

Now comes the crazy part, if you’re crazy enough to register for Le Marathon, you’ll need to come up with $5000 to pay the entrance fee, not to mention all the money you have to spend on equipment, traveling and training. They should’ve said most expensive race too!

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Japanese fashion: Harajuku

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As a manga and anime enthusiast, I must say I love these girls’ style!

I’m sure most of you are already familiar with this fashion style, very popular in Japan’s biggest cities and even though you didn’t know it was called Harajuku, you’ve surely seen some oddly dressed girls, wearing lots of make-up, they’re all over the internet.

Harajuku style was named after Harajuku district in Tokyo, the place where it’s believed it all began and where all the kids gather to scout for new funky clothes in the numerous shops and boutiques, or just to show off their new outfits. The nice thing about this fashion trend is that it’s not big brands or fashion designers telling people what to wear, but just the opposite, the kids are dictating what sells.

Japan is very “absorbent”when it comes to Western culture, so the Harajuku style is a trademark for those independent spirits that don’t go with the flow and choose to freely express themselves.

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The Tiger Temple

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A place where tourists can pet tigers just like they do their cats, here’s something you don’t see every day.

The Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua is Theravada Buddhist forest temple, in Thailand. It has been a sanctuary for many endangered animals for quite some time now, including several tigers. It was founded in 1994 as a forest monastery, where animals could find sanctuary and in 1999 they received their first tiger cub, which died soon after. But they kept receiving tiger cubs from the villagers who probably encountered them wondering through the forest after their mothers were killed by poachers.

The Tiger Temple has raised money over the years and can now accommodate 12 mature tigers and 4 cubs. they live in cages and once a day they are taken to a nearby quarry, where they can roam freely. Tourists may watch from 10 meters distance and sometimes they are allowed to pet these magnificent creatures. Only one serious attack took place in the history of the temple.

The priests at the Tiger Temple are now gathering funds to build a larger facility and create an almost natural environment for the animals, so they can one day be let out into the wild where they belong.

In case you’re wondering, yes this is the place featured on Animal Planet.

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World’s ex-ugliest dog

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Remember SAM, the ugliest dog ever, if you ask me.

So he died like 3 years ago, so what something like that doesn’t really die that easily you know, this kind of creature is hard to forget. SAM held the title of World’s Ugliest Dog for 3 straight years (2003, 2004, 2005) and he was striped of it by his own mortality, dying due to heart complications, at the age of 15…My guess is he looked in the mirror by mistake, but that’s less important.

SAM was a purebred Chinese Crested Hairless, but don’t imagine all of this race looks like that, oh no, he was just special. Taken in by Susie Lockheed back in 1999, SAM became an internet star, sporting his very own page on Wikipedia and some screen appearances.

To me, SAM will forever be the ultimate ugliest mutt, I don’t have a picture of him in my room or anything like that…

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The Real Toy Story

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No link to Pixar’s animation movies, but just as interesting.

The Real Toy Story is an elaborate work of art and a homage to Chinese workers, who produce most of the world’s cheap plastic toys. It all began when German photographer Michael Wolf thought to surprise his son on his birthday. He went to the local flee-market, bought 600 second-hand toys and glued them on every available surface of the boy’s room. Upon further examination of the toys, they observed that every single one was made in China. His son said “I thought Santa and his helpers make toys” and that’s when the idea hit him. He immediately set off on a 30-day journey across California, in his van, stopping at every market and collecting all the toys that had a face and were made in China.

He managed to gather 20,000 toys which he shipped to his studio in Hong Kong, where he then sanded-down their backs in order to attach magnets. He then visited some Chinese toy factories and took pictures of the workers. He covered his studio walls with metallic surfaces and stuck the toys to them, also embedding the photos he took.

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Zombie wedding

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I guess the “till death do you part” has no place here, does it…

I wish I could say I’m surprised to see such a display, but it’s not the first time I see something like this. A while ago I posted about the gothic wedding, which was pretty close to this. i suppose I can understand these people’s desire to do something different, break the rules and have their weddings truly be special, but can’t they have come up with some other theme? Maybe it’s just me but zombies, blood and horrific scars really don’t say nice wedding…

Before you start throwing rocks at little-old me, I’m not judging them, just stating an opinion!

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Bottle-wall houses

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If you’re a big beer fan, don’t throw away the bottles, build yourself a house instead.

Yet another example that with a god imagination you can build anything out of anything. The first bottle house was built in 1902 by William F. Peck, in Tonopah, Nevada, using approximately 10,000 beer bottles; the house was later demolished in 1980. Tom Kelly built himself a bottle house in 1905, in Rhyolite, Nevada, using 51,000 bottles masoned with adobe. He reportedly used bottles because other materials were hard to come by in that area.

There are quite a few bottle houses in the world today, but most of them have been built specifically as tourist attractions or simply as artworks.

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White Diamond, the albino croc

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White Diamond is thought to be the only albino crocodile in Europe.

And you can go see him if yo fancy a trip to the German village of Hodenhagen, at the Serengeti Safari park, until April 27. White Diamond was born in Louisiana, USA and grew up at an alligator farm in Florida, but has arrived in Germany as part of a traveling reptile show, called “Land der Reptilien“. White Diamond is 14 years old right now, and he’s lucky he lives in captivity, with that white-a-skin I doubt he could have sneaked up on his prey without being noticed.

So remember, if you want to see White Diamond live, visit Serengeti Safari park, until April 27, 2008.

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Lucky Diamond Rich

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Yes, he’s human…

He’s also in the Guinness Book of Records as the most tattooed man on the planet. He only has one tattoo (his own words) but it covers his entire body (including the inside of his mouth and ears) and it has multiple layers. He had thoughts about the most tattooed men and women ever since he was a child but he didn’t think about becoming one of them until he got his first tattoo, a small juggling club on his hip.

Lucky Diamond Rich was born in New Zealand but currently performs as a chainsaw juggling, sword swallowing entertainer in Australia. he has spent more than 1000 hours getting his body tattooed around the world, but he was not satisfied, so he opted for a black ink covering his entire body. He is now getting white designs on top of the black and colored designs on top of the white. I guess he really a work in progress, just like he says.

Did I mention he replaced all his natural teeth with silver ones?

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Giant sandstorm in Iraq

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Yeah these photos may date back to 2005, but a giant wall of sand moving at 60mph never gets old!

These amazing photos were taken by a civilian contractor who was supporting US troops in Iraq. he might be an amateur photographer but he did a pretty good job with these pictures, I must say. I wonder what was going on in the minds of the people in that camp, seeing something like that coming towards you at an incredible speed messes up your thinking completely.

I’ve never seen a sandstorm like this, maybe just in movies like The Mummy, but that doesn’t count, it was computer generated. Mother nature sure has some powerful weapons at her disposal…

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Oasis of the Americas

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Yet another place I’d like to visit at least once in my lifetime.

Sadly I might not get the opportunity, and not because I may not be able to reach it, but just because it may not be there for long. This extraordinary place is in danger, the underground river that supplies the water for Huacachina Oasis is now being plundered by the people of the neighboring city of Ika. It’s not specifically their fault, global warming is affecting water supplies everywhere, so it’s humanity’s fault, shame on us!

It’s a shame that a place that over the centuries has sheltered countless travelers, preventing them from finding their end in the sun-scorched desert dunes that surrounds it. Quite an unfitting end for such a unique location, that is just beginning to attract tourists from all over the world.

So if you have the chance, go to Peru and visit Huacachina Oasis, who knows if you’ll ever get the chance again…

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Real upside-down house

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With an upside-down interior and everything!

If you’re ever in Poland, you might want to go see one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, in the village of Szymbark. Designedby Polish businessman and philanthropist Daniel Czapiewski, the house manages to draw in huge crowds every day. This project was meant to be a statement about the Comunist era and also about the current stet of the world. everything is upside-down and it’s up to mankind to fix it.

What’s even more unusual is that all of the interior is also upside-down and it took the workers 114 days to complete it, instead of the normal three weeks, because they needed frequent breaks to recover from getting disoriented by the weird angles of the house. Visitors also often complain about mild sickness and dizziness after just a few minutes spent in the house.

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The Boy and the Python

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Would make a nice book title wouldn’t it?

Oeun Sambat is a six-year old boy from Cambodia, who has a very unusual best friend, a huge python called Chamerun (Lucky). If you ask me that should be the boy’s name, he’s lucky that thing hasn’t eaten him yet. Anyway he’s become really popular in the surrounding area, people from the neighboring villagers flock to see this miracle and say he has supernatural powers because he was the son of a dragon in a previous life.

It’s a pretty cool situation, still if was one of the boy’s parents I wouldn’t let him keep that thing as a pet…snakes are very unpredictable creatures, especially if they aren’t tamed in any way.

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The Giants of the North

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Or Gigantes do Norte, in their native Portuguese tongue are a very…special soccer team

What makes them so special is the fact that they are all vertically challenged people, playing against under-13 soccer teams in their native Brazilian town of Belem. What’s even more amazing is that they are attracting huge crowds at their matches, because they’re apparently quite the entertainers.

They’re not just a freak-show doing this to earn money, as some people might think, they are coached by professional coach Carlos Luchena and they were put together “in an effort to raise the profile of dwarves in Brazilian society and challenge ‘sizeist’ attitudes.

That’s commendable!

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Swamp Soccer

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If you’re not one of those people who thinks soccer is for pussies, you’re going to love this.

Believe it or not, this sport really exists, there are even organized championships in European countries like Finland and the United Kingdom. It originates from Finland, where it was first played by cross-country skiers who were training in swamps in the summer time. Now annual tournaments take place in Finland, Sweden, Iceland and the UK. There are three types of teams in swamp soccer, man teams, women teams and mixed teams and all consist of 6 players.

Although you have to get down and dirty, I have a feeling this sport is extremely fun to play and there aren’t many teams that play it for the competition’s sake. That trophy would look pretty sweet in my personal collection though…

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