Cong Langui – China’s One Legged Chalk Art Master

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Cong Langui is a talented Chinese chalk artist who travels across the country creating amazing artworks that make people stop in their tracks and stare in amazement.

Cong may not be the only talented chalk artist in the world, but the hardships he has had to cope with throughout his life, make him stand out as a truly impressive person. He was born in the Linyi countryside, Shandong, and was diagnosed with bone cancer, when he was just 16 years old, and had his left leg amputated. It was a terrible blow for a young man, but he found comfort in painting, and started making replicas of world-renown artworks, every day.

At the age of 21, Cong Langui left his home and began traveling from city to city, living off his amazing chalk paintings. Now at age 48, the artist says he’s been to every one of China’s provinces, except Tibet and Xinjiang. Life was never easy for Cong, especially with only one leg, but by painting chalk masterpieces on city streets, he’s always made enough money to get by and keep traveling. Always hungry for cultural knowledge, the one legged artist would visit the art museum of every city he traveled to, in order to improve his cultural accomplishment and level of chalk drawing.

Every one of his chalk artworks takes hours to complete, but Cong feels that his pastel technique is of relatively low difficulty, and his biggest dream is to study painting in oil, watercolor and ink. Well versed in the art of chalk drawing (he has drawn Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” more than 300 times), Cong feels the need for a new challenge.

After the earthquake of Sichuan, even though he could barely afford to survive, Cong Langui insisted that all the money people gave him, for his amazing street art, be donated to the Hubei Red Cross.

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People Actually Pay to Travel to Hell on Earth

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Trying to discover a “cool”, out-of-this-world spot for your next vacation? If you think you’ve seen it all, think again, because the Danakil Desert, in Ethiopia will blow you mind. Toxic gases, violent vulcanos, sulphurous lakes, fiery air temperatures make this place what many would call hell on Earth.

Although it’s among the most inhospitable places in the world, there are many “people happy to pay for a two-week tour,” as Tom Pfeiffer, German vulcanologist and founder of VulcanoDiscovery, said. It probably has something to do with man’s desire to travel to other planets, as this is exactly the feeling you get in this unearthly environment.

Judging by the “beauty” of the Danakil Desert, you’d think people would have to be paid in order to agree to come here, but in fact, daredevils pay over $4,600 for a three week tour that starts in Addis Ababa. There aren’t any four star hotels here, but tourists get to enjoy unique, incredible sights that can never compare to chilling by the pool. However, if you’re thinking about traveling to Danakil, you should know you’ll be facing harsh heats and some of the strangest smells imaginable.

 

photo credits

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Christmas Tree Built Out of Mountain Dew Cans

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If you’re looking for an original way of recycling your old soda and beer cans, a nice Christmas tree is probably your best bet. You can use this Mountain Dew can tree, as motivation.

Back in 2006,  a group of Mountain Dew drinkers decided to put their drinking to good use, for a change. It took three months to gather the 400 cans of soda needed for their monumental project, but it definitely paid off. After four days of drilling holes into a PVC pipe, sticking construction flags in it and attaching the Mountain Dew cans to them, the guys had built quite a Christmas tree, topped off by a big plastic bottle, instead of the usual star.

It’s been four years since the Mountain Dew Christmas tree was built and other unusual Christmas trees were created since then, but it remains very popular, and people seem to remember it, around the holidays.

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Meet the Real Life Tom and Jerry

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If you are a big fan of Tom and Jerry, like me, you will most certainly fall in love with this real life version of the famous duo.

It might look like it, but 51-year-old Carolyne Brading didn’t use a cat and mouse as decorations for the Christmas tree. Bumble, her 14-month-old cat, got tangled in the lights and tinsel of the Christmas tree, while chasing a mouse. And while the clever little mouse managed to get to the top, Bumble didn’t make it more than half way up.

The owners, Mrs. Brading and her husband Stan, are very proud to have had the chance to capture this unusual but hilarious moment on camera:

“When we walked into the room we found him perched in the branches about half way up, and the mouse was peering down on him. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We grabbed the camera straight away because it’s certainly not something we think we’ll witness again. Despite the awkward position, Bumble looked quite comfortable. We lifted him out and the mouse scurried away.

‘The tree was a mess. The angel that had previously been on top of the tree was on the floor and there were baubles everywhere. It took me an hour to put everything back together again. Everybody who sees the pictures thinks it’s hysterical – just like a scene out of Tom and Jerry,” said Mrs Brading.

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Bugarach – The French Village That Will Survive 2012 Armageddon

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Armageddon, the end of the world predicted by the ancient Maya for December 2012, is  a very popular subject these days. In fact, it’s so popular that places considered sacred and safe have become the target of many esoteric outsiders.

This is also the case of Bugarach, a peaceful French farming village, located on one of the “sacred mountains” and, believed to be an “alien garage” where aliens await, underground, for the world to end. Many believe that by coming here, they have a chance to be rescued by the aliens, while the rest of the world goes down in flames.

It might sound funny to you, but for mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, this isn’t a joke, as he said in an interview “If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012.” And with all the sites and articles on the internet talking about the UFOs and advising people to go to Bugarach to seek shelter, the army may have their hands full when the time comes.

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Mind-Blowing Embroidered Portraits by Daniel Kornrumpf

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We’ve featured some truly magnificent pieces of embroidery on Oddity Central, but Daniel Kornrumpf’s intricate portrait are simply breathtaking.

A true master with the needle, Philadelphia-based artist Daniel Kornrumpf creates extraordinary embroidered portraits that look a lot like real paintings. Even more surprising is the size of these amazing artworks. While they may look like giant paintings, in the close-up photos, in reality they are smallish creations, set against a large white background.

Just like the brown tape paintings of Mark Khaisman or the collage paintings of Megan Coyle, Daniel Kornrumpf’s embroidered artworks are incredibly realistic.

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Book Features the World’s Most Impressive Toilet Views

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A young English author has been touring the world for the last three years, looking for the best toilet views to put in his book “Good Loo Hunting“.

While most of us probably never think about it, toilets are a big part of our lives. In fact, every person spends around three years of their life in the bathroom, either reading a paper or staring at the back of the door. Not the most impressive sight, so 33-year-old Luke Barclay decided to show everyone it can only get better. He traveled to some of the most emote regions in the world, in his quest to find the loos with the best views.

Luke Barclay first documented toilets with views in his first book “Loos with Views”, two years ago, and following its great success, he decided to make a list of the best toilet views on Earth. And it was much harder than you think, considering the toilets didn’t only have to be located in a beautiful place, they had to have at least a window through which one could marvel at the stunning surroundings.

Good Loo Hunting features an impressive collection of great toilet locations, from the banks of the Zambezi River, in Africa, to Mount Sinai, in Egypt, or Lake Titicaca, in South America. Luke Barclay traveled to every continent in order to fulfill his dream of finding the most spectacular loo views in the world, and is now ready to share them with the world.

Who would have thought public toilets would be the subject of a book you’d actually want to own, right?

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World’s Most Expensive Book Sold For $11.5 Million

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Birds of America“, John James Audubon’s unique sample of nature, art and craftsmanship wrapped in a beautiful album was sold at Sotheby’s last auction for the staggering price of  $11.5 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. This is one of just 11 copies owned by private collectors.

Audubon, a 19th century French-American naturalist and painter, gathered 500 breeds of birds, all illustrated in 1000 hand-painted life-size images, in his extraordinary book, which took 12 years to complete. A rare book dealer from London, Bernard Shapero , explains:  “His big thing was the one-to-one ratio. Everyone else cropped the birds. If an eagle is 6 foot, he was going to paint it 6 foot.  He scaled back the wings, but it was life size. That was his cachet.” The so-called “father of ornithology” would hunt down the birds, shooting them before propping them on wires to paint. Each drawing took around 60 hours to complete. Sadly, many of the birds in his book are now extinct and exist only in his drawings and as stuffed museum exhibits.

American society wasn’t very interested in his work but that didn’t stop him, and his ambition got him all the way to Britain where his work gained success amongst the aristocracy.

The book is not only beautiful but also very impressive with its 3ft by 2ft pages, and although it wouldn’t fit on most bookshelves, it must be any collectors dream. The previous record was also held by a copy of this unique album, sold in the year 2000 for $8,8 million.

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Cool Toys Made from Hard Disk Parts

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A Ukrainian IT company posted some photos of toys its staff created from various hard disk components, to show off their creativity. Vist officials also added they are very proud of their employees’ ingenuity, but this doesn’t mean they have too much free time on their hands. The toys were created during breaks and in-between creation and testing of company applications.

While they just look like cool metal models, the hard disk toys created by Vist are actually functional. The bird’s neck and legs are mobile, and the cool-looking quad has front and rear suspension and a small engine allows it to roll around.

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Big Knit Café – Where Knitting Goes Well with Coffee

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Knitting is mostly known as a favorite grannies all around the world, but at Bangkok’s Big Knit Café, it’s practiced by crafty young professionals trying to unwind.

Who would have thought knitting could be the recipe of a truly successful café business? Not many people, I’m sure, but that didn’t stop Khun Nice from starting Big Knit Café, a now internationally known venue where anyone can savor a cup of coffee or a tasty piece of cake, while knitting and learning new tips from local crafters. Even if you don’t know the first thing about knitting, all you need to do is buy a kit, and the staff at Big Knit Café will teach you everything there is to know.

Apart from all the cakes, pastry delicacies and drinks, Big Knit Café also offers a large colorful collection of yarn, from cotton and bamboo to alpaca and cashmere. The walls are practically lined with rows of yarn, and all customers have to do is decide on type and color.

Big Knit Café is far from being a knitting spot for grannies, as the place is visited by women of all ages, even college students and children, eager to discover the secrets of the art. Even some Thai celebrities stop by Big Knit Café, every once in a while, to relax in a nice, friendly atmosphere.

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Dordoy – The Shipping Container Bazaar of Kyrgyzstan

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One of Asia’s largest shopping centers, the Dordoy Bazaar consists of around 7,000 shipping containers, which makes it a monument to repurposing.

Located near the city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Dordoy Bazaar is one of the main entrepots through which Chinese goods make their way to markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It was inaugurated in 1992, and as wholesale markets across the country began to plummet, the bazaar’s popularity kept rising transforming it in the monument of raw commerce it is today.

Dordoy Bazaar stretches for about a kilometer, on the north-eastern outskirts of Bishkek, and features all kinds of goods, from Chinese and Turkish knock-offs to Russian music CDs, all off them stocked in the thousands of stacked shipping containers that serve as shops and storage space. Practically, the entire bazaar is built out of shipping containers organized in rows to form streets and plazas of sort. A 2005 newspaper report stated there were between 6,000 and 7,000 containers in Dordoy Bazaar, and their numbers probably went up considerably, since then.

The few buildings in Dordoy Bazaar that aren’t made of containers serve as administrative offices, hotels and toilets.

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Christmas Tree Lights Powered by a Bunch of Electric Eels

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People are definitely becoming more and more concerned about the environment, also more inventive. Looking for ways to save up energy, the staff of the Helsinki Sea Life Center aquarium in Finland, discovered they had a  totally free energy source living right in their fish tanks – electric eels.

“Our electrician built a device that uses four plastic-encased steel probes to capture the eel’s electrical discharge and feed it to the lights. At feeding time though, it really powers up. You can hear the voltage increasing and the lights shine bright and steady.” explains Markus Dernjatin – from the Helsinki Sea Life Center in Finland.

These deadly deep sea creatures can produce an amount of electrical energy sufficient to light up more than one Christmas tree – around 650 volts. At the same time, the high voltage is enough to kill a grown man…

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Chinese Artist Paints on Water

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Zhu Shenghi, a talented artist from Xi’an, China’s Shaanxi Province, has developed a unique way of painting on water.

While we can all take a brush and start stroking away on water, results won’t be nearly as spectacular as what Zhu Shenghi can do. Using a fine tool and naphta, he paints all kinds of detailed shapes on the surface of the water, but water isn’t actually the real canvas. After he’s finished the design, Zhu places a piece of paper that absorbs the paint from the surface of the water, thus becoming a regular painting without having been touched by any painting utensils.

UPDATE: Seeing the photos for the first time, I thought Zhu Shenghi’s art was unique, but it’s apparently been around since the 15th century, and used in East Asia and the Islamic World. It might not be as modern as other painting techniques, but it’s still pretty fascinating.

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Kobe Luminarie – Japan’s Festival of Light

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Kobe Luminarie is an extraordinary light festival that takes place every December, in commemoration of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.

The first edition Kobe Luminarie took place in December of 1995, as a memorial to the lives lost in the terrible earthquake of January 17. It was entitled “Dreams and Light” and was a message of hope that two and a half million people came to see, on the first day. Following the success of the first festival, Kobe Luminarie became a yearly event that celebrates Kobe’s remarkable recovery from disaster.

Various light decorations are created from millions of small light bulbs and LEDs, from bright arches to citadels and whatever else Italian designer Valerio Festi and his team decide on. Since the name of the festival comes from the plural of the Italian “luminaria” -which means light decoration – the decision of employing an Italian team must not have been incidental. Every year, the theme of Kobe Luminarie changes, and that has people from all over the world coming back year after year, to see the new light structures. Approximately five million people attend the Kobe Luminarie every year.

Apart from the beautiful light structures, another impressive aspect of Kobe Luminarie is that it relies on its audience to keep going. Visitors support the event by putting coins in the donation boxes set up around the brightly lit structures, and this assures the funding for next year’s festival. A great way to show appreciation, considering the entrance if free of charge…

Just to be clear, Kobe Luminarie has nothing to do with Christmas, despite the common colorful-lights theme. This year, the festival of light took place between December 2-13, and was named “Il cuore nella luce” (The heart in the light).

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The Incredible Map Collages of Matthew Cusick

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Matthew Cusick, a talented collage artist from Dallas, Texas, creates incredible works of art with map cutouts. Using the most rudimentary tools, Cusick reconfigures entire networks of roads, rivers and municipal transit systems to create intricate artworks that look like paintings and drawings, if looked at from afar.

Originally from New York, Matthew Cusick graduated from Cooper Union in 1993, and had his first exhibition just two years later. Since then, his masterpieces have been showcased around the world. Inspired by topography, the artist states that he likes to “catalog, archive, and arrange information and then dismantle, manipulate, and reconfigure it.”

Have a look at these amazing map collages, and be sure to check out Matt’s official site for more of his beautiful artworks.

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