La Pourcailhade – Becoming a Pig in France

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La Pourcailhade is a festival dedicated to one of the most popularly eaten animal around the world, the pig. I’d like to mention that the Festival isn’t dedicated to pork as much as it is to the pig. There’s the usual “eat the most… to win” contest and a few barbecues go on but they’re far from being the main attractions at La Pourcailhade.

These would be the Best Pig Outfit competition, the “Cri do Cochon” and even the piglet race. The latter is self explanatory and it is made even more fun by betting on the side. It’s basically what the Koreans feel when going to the dog tracks.Where things during La Pourcailhade get even more interesting is in the Best Pig Outfit competition. It is also rather self explanatory but could you seriously imagine anything funnier than grown people walking around and showcasing their pig-like appearance? Especially French people, perceived as some of the coolest and snottiest people in the world.

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Japan’s Zauo Restaurants, Where You Catch Your Own Meal

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Zauo, which translates as “sit and fish” is a unique restaurant chain where clients are given fishing gear and get to catch what they want to eat. It’s one of those quirky places where you just have to go for an authentic Japanese experience.

I don’t know if they were inspired by the old saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” or if they just thought the concept would put them ahead of the competition, but one thing is for sure – whoever thought of making Zauo a fishing restaurant hit the jackpot. It is one of the most popular venues in all of Japan, for locals and tourists alike, and whether you like sushi and sashimi, katsus, sukiyaki and other hotpots, or cooked fish, Zauo has it all.

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Japan’s Pig Rodeo – Animal Cruelty or Just Plain Fun?

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Although pigs aren’t exactly known for their speed and stamina, the people of Mikame, in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture seem to think they’re the perfect animals to ride.

Ehime Prefecture has been known as Japan’s pork production capital for a long time, and 25 years ago someone thought it would be a great idea to celebrate by riding hogs in a unique event known as Pig Rodeo. Part of the annual Seiyo City Mikame Summer Festival, the crazy event has been a popular tourist attraction, but to most of the western world it remained a mystery until 2009, when a YouTube video was picked up by a number of media outlets. There was a lot of controversy surrounding pig rodeo, at the time, and someone even started an online petition to get it banned, but in the last two years there were hardly any stories written on the subject.

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Paga Village – Where Crocs and Men Live in Perfect Harmony

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The small village of Paga, in Ghana, defies the laws of nature as local population bathes and swims in the same nearby pond as over 100 deadly crocodiles. So far none of the villagers have ever been harmed by the reptiles.

Something very weird is definitely going on in the African village of Paga, where people live happily among crocodiles who don’t seem to mind their company, either. It is believed everyone in the village has a corresponding crocodile in Bolgatanga, and according to reliable sources the deaths of important village personalities have coincided with the death of a crocodile. Because they believe crocs are the souls of their village relatives, people never hurt or kill the sacred animals. That’s all very nice, but what’s really bizarre is the crocodiles themselves seem to have developed a strong relationship with their human neighbors and never cause them any harm. Young men go knee-deep into the water to fish, right next to the some of the world’s largest crocodiles, and always come out unharmed.

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In Indonesia Football Is Played with a Ball of Fire

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Sepak Bola Api, or The Fireball Game, is a unique game Indonesians play to welcome the month of Ramadan. It’s a lot like football only they have to kick a flaming fireball.

It seems regular football is pretty boring. At least that’s the feeling I get after discovering similar games like Footdoubleball, Cycle Ball or Burton-on-the-Water. The latest addition to the list of games that makes football look easy is an Indonesian tradition that had people kick a flaming football in celebration of Ramadan. It’s called Sepak Bola Api and is usually celebrated in the Yogyakarta, Bogor, Tasikmalaya, and Papua regions of the Southeastern Asia archipelago. Just like in the regular game of football, two teams of 11 eleven players kick a ball and try to shoot it in the opposing goal. But that’s easier said than done when playing barefoot and kicking a flaming ball.

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World’s Largest Collection of Clowns Is Kind of Creepy

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Ortrud Kastaun, a 61-year-old woman from Germany, has set a new Guinness record for the world’s largest collection of clown related items.

Orty, as her friends know her, has been collecting clowns for the last 15 years, and has so far amassed 2,053 different clown-related items. She’s had to move to a bigger house that would accommodate all her creepy smiling buddies, and has even opened a small clown museum close to her home, in Essen. But Kastaun hasn’t always been obsessed with clowns; it all started in 1995, when she was a recovering alcoholic going through therapy. “I remember being in therapy one day putting a jigsaw together. The image was of a clown in a jack-in-the-box. Something just clicked. From that I day on I began collecting clowns,” Orty remembers. It was a tough time for her but she credits clown for helping her get passed it.

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Japan’s Ear-Cleaning Parlors Bring Back Childhood Memories

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Japanese associate ear-cleaning with their childhood and many of them are willing to pay to return to those carefree days if only for just a few minutes. That’s what makes ear-cleaning salons one of the most popular businesses in Japan, right now.

Ever since Japan authorities decided to deregulate ear-cleaning as a medical profession, making it available without a medical license, hundreds of salons offering the service started popping up all over the country. The vast majority of clients are men looking to relax their minds after a stressful day, and travel back to the days when they used to rest their heads on their mothers’ laps for the occasional ear cleaning session. Three out of four clients claim it’s so relaxing they actually fall asleep while the kimono-wearing cleaners excavate the wax out of their ears. Some say their wives clean their ears at home, but it’s just not the same without the traditional Japanese style room and the tatami mats.

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Panama’s El Valle de Anton – Where Trees Are Square

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A few miles north of the Panama Canal Zone is the Valley of Square Trees a unique tourist attraction where trees of the cottonwood family have rectangular trunks.

Unique in the entire world, this group of square-shaped cottonwood trees grow in a valley created from the ashes of a giant volcano – El Valle de Anton. Featuring hard-right angles, the trunks of the square trees have baffled tourists and scientists alike, for several years. Experts from the University of Florida took saplings of the mysterious trees to see if they retain the same characteristics in a different environment, and concluded that their square shape must have something to do with conditions unique to the valley in which they grow. Evidence that the cause of this bizarre phenomenon is deep-seated is indicated by the fact that their tree rings, which represent its growth, are also square.

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Japan’s Anti-Groping Women-Only Train Cars

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Groping on public transportation is an international problem, but Japanese railway companies have found an effective way to stop it by introducing women-only train and subway cars.

It’s a known fact that Tokyo is overcrowded and that is most obvious during rush hour, when professional pushers shove people into train cars so the doors can close properly. Unfortunately this is the kind of environment where perverts thrive. Usually most people mind their own business, reading a magazine, checking their email or talking on the phone, but some men prefer to talk dirty to the women next to them and groping them. This kind of molestation or “chikan” as the Japanese call it, happens every day in Japanese major cities, and lost of women choose to be quiet and bear it, because of the way male-dominated Japanese society functions. But ever since Japanese railway stations introduced the women-only train cars, they don’t have to, anymore.

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A Walk through Shanghai’s Marriage Market

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Feeling lonely? Head over to Shanghai’s Marriage Market, a regular city institution where lonely souls, and especially their parents, come to find suitable partners.

“Female, born 1981, 1.62 meters tall, bachelor’s degree, project director at a foreign company, monthly salary above RMB 10,000, looking for someone born between 1974 and 1982, bachelor’s degree or above with a sense of responsibility for the family.” This is just one of the thousands of sheets of paper that decorate Shanghai’s lively People’s Square on weekends, when hundreds of local parents come here to “advertise” their single children. In a city where being single is a real stigmata, this little matchmaking corner is a last resort for lonely people and parents who hope to see their offsprings settled down. But it’s not about finding someone, it’s a bout finding the RIGHT one, a person who fits a certain description, both physically and socially.

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The Wedding House – World’s Smallest Five-Star Hotel

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At 2.5 meters wide and with just 53 square meters of floor space, the Eh Häusel (Wedding House) in Amberg, Germany is the world’s smallest hotel, and a five-star one at that.

From the outside, the Eh Häusel looks like it’s been pushed into the narrow space between two neighboring buildings, but it’s the interior that’s supposed to impress its guests. The hotel is set up on 6 staggered floors and has all the features you’re used to finding in a luxury hotel, including a very comfortable bed, fireplace, fine furniture, flat screen TV and spa bathroom. Guests from as far as China or Mexico pay 240 euros to spend a night at the world’s smallest hotel, and believe it or not the Eh Häusel is fully booked many months in advance. Of course that’s partly due to the fact that’s it’s so small it can only be occupied by one couple at a time.

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The Camel-Riding Robot Jockeys of Arabia

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Camel racing is a really popular sport throughout the Arab world, and owning a heard of specially-bred fast camels is apparently considered a symbol of wealth and power. But it’s not the animals we should be talking about, it’s their weird-looking robot jockeys.

Obviously, robot jockeys aren’t exactly an integral part of the old camel racing tradition. In the old days, children and light young men were used to whip the camels to victory, but in recent years things had  really gotten out of hand, and crackdowns on the black market revealed around 40,000 kids from South Asia had been kidnapped or sold by their families to become, among other things, camel jockeys. Welfare organizations started reuniting the children with their families, offering them shelter and food until they could return home, but a solution to camel jockey trafficking had to be found urgently. The United Arab Emirates banned children under the age of 16 from competing in camel races, and a Swiss company called K-team realized the business opportunity and began creating light robot jockeys known as “Kamal”, in 2003.

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World’s First 7-Star Pet Resort Opens in Dubai

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Urban Tails Dubai, the world’s first seven-star resort for pets, was inaugurated this summer and owners say it was such a big hit they’ve been full all season.

Just think of this place like an equivalent of Burj al Arab for cats and dogs. It was created by Irish ex-pat Aideen O’Mara who moved to the UAE in 2004, where she worked at an international school before opening her luxury pet resort. She speculated the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on Dubai’s public beaches or in parks and decided to create an environment where cats and dogs could “socialize in luxury surroundings”, while their European masters went home during the hottest time of the month. This way, the poor animals didn’t have to be confined inside for five months, due to unbearable heat. ”I have always had pets and I feel that animals are given a bit of a raw deal in the UAE in terms of pet services on offer and they do not have much freedom in comparison to dogs in Europe.” Aideen says.


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Forcadas – The Brave Bullfighting Women of Mexico and Portugal

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It takes a lot of guts to get in the ring with an enraged bull, even when carrying a sharp sword, but the forcadas (women bullfighters) are brave enough to take the bull head-on without any kind of protection or weaponry.

During the early days of bullfighting, the bullring had a staircase leading to the royal cabin, and a group of men called forcados was employed to make sure the bull didn’t go up the stairs. They used a long pole with a steel half-moon at the top, called a “forcado” (fork) to fight the bull, and that’s how they got their name. But nowadays they only use a symbolic forcado during opening ceremonies and historical demonstrations, as their main role in modern bullfighting is the “pega de caras” (face catch). The pega essentially involves challenging the bull with their bare hands and trying to win by immobilizing it.

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Akodessewa Fetish Market – Africa’s Voodoo Supermarket

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Togo’s Akodessewa Fetish Market is recognized as the largest fetish market in the world, a place where Voodoo practitioner can find anything they need for their rituals.

The practice of voodoo began in West Africa, before being taken to America by slaves, and in countries like Togo, Ghana, or Nigeria the religion is very much alive. Many people believe healers using animal parts and strange talismans can invoke spirits with their bizarre rituals, and solve their problems. And if there’s one place where voodoo priests can stock up on their creepy supplies, it’s the Akodessewa Fetish Market, in Togo’s capital city, Lome. Just think of it as an outdoor pharmacy where various animal parts, bone statues and herbs take the place of conventional medicine.

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