The All Saints Day Giant Kite Festival of Guatemala

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Every November 1st, the people of Santiago Sacatepéquez , Guatemala celebrate the Day of the Dead by flying giant colorful kites, during the All Saints Day Kite Festival.

Known as “barilletas gigantes” in Spanish, the giant kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez are masterpieces that take great skill and patience to complete. Months before the Kite Festival, teams of people begin work on the colorful kites that will bring them great honor and the respect of their peers, on the big day. A giant kite is made of cloth and paper tied to a bamboo frame, and features a colorful design, usually with a religious or folkloric theme. In recent years, designs have been hinting at the ever-growing corruption of the Guatemala government.

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China Showcases the World’s Largest Luminous Pearl

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A mystery to the western world, luminous pearls are legendary in China, and people go to great lengths for a chance to even touch one of them. The largest luminous pearl has just been placed on display, in China’s Hainan province.

Very little is known about the giant green pearls of China. The few who actually have heard of these remarkable jewels refer to them as “Yemengzhu” and praise them to be rarities that bring good luck. They have been a part of Chinese legends for centuries, and people there believe that just touching them can bring great fortune and prosperity. But this kind of myths are all to common in a traditional country like China, and what makes Yemengzhu special has little to do with local lore.

Luminous pearls are wonders of the mineral world that shine in the dark without the help of ultraviolet light. This kind of Fluorite is so rare that western geology don’t even recognize its existence, and the Chinese only discovered the first one in 1982, at a Tungsten mine, in Guangdong. Since then, bigger and bigger deposits were discovered, and the largest one yet weighs 6 tons and is 1.6 meters in diameter. When it was discovered, it had an irregular shape, but was ground in the form of a sphere. The process took three years to complete, because of its tough nature, comparable to the finest grade of diamonds.

The largest luminous pearl is currently exhibited in Wenchang, China’s Hainan province, and has been appraised at 2.2 billion yuan ($331 million).

 

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Khalid Nabi – Not Your Average Cemetery

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The Khalid Nabi cemetery, in northern Iran has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists, because of its strange tombstones shaped as male and female sexual organs.

Scientists say the bizarre cemetery is around 1,400 years old, and judging by the number of headstones, it’s the final resting place of at least 600 people, the most important of which is Khalid Nabi, a prophet born 40 years before Muhammad. You’d be inclined to be believe most people come to the cemetery as pilgrims to a prophet’s grave, but you couldn’t be more wrong; they actually come to see the penis and breast-shaped tombstones.

Nobody knows exactly what the 6-foot-tall columns shaped like phalluses and the smaller, cross like-headstones that resemble female breasts are meant to symbolize, but the mere fact that a wacky attraction like the Khalid Nabi cemetery gets this kind of attention, in a country like Iran, is weird enough. Some scientists say the weird tombstones could have been influenced by the phallic religion practiced in India and central Asia, but most of the visitors don’t even care, they just came here to see some funny penis-shaped rocks.

I’m just not sure who Iran is going to blame for this, but I’m sure they’ll somehow relate the phallus stones to some “capitalist pigs”.

 

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Just What the World Needed – Hello Kitty Theme park Opens in Tokyo

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As if the world didn’t have enough of their annoying icon, Hello Kitty, the Japanese thought they’d open a new theme park as well.

If you’re a regular visitor of Oddity Central, you probably already know I’m not the world’s biggest Hello Kitty fan. I’ve featured quite a few strange Hello Kitty stuff, from a pink assault rifle to a Hello Kitty-themed Ferrari. Now, it brings me great…honor to present to you Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise, a Hello Kitty theme park that just opened in Tokyo.

I guess the Japanese didn’t want to look bad, after their Chinese neighbors built a Hello Kitty castle, and a nice new pink theme park was just the thing. Located on Odaiba Island, Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise opened on October 22nd, and hopes to attract as many as 700,000 Hello Kitty fans in its first year. While the despicable icon has tons of fans in Japan’s capital, not many of them bothered to check out the theme park, probably because Odaiba is quite a long way from central Tokyo, and many of them don’t care to make the long trip. Let’s just hope the place stays empty and they’ll be forced to close it down soon, because unless you’re the Pink Lady, human eyesight just can’t handle all that pink.

In case you’re interested, the 10,000 square-foot park features a big Hello Kitty shop, where you can find all kinds of accessories, toys and other pink junk, a Hello Kitty pancake restaurant, a small theater, a big statue of Hello Kitty and a whole bunch of other pink, girly stuff fans go crazy about.

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Prince Saint Vladimir – The World’s First and Only Chapel Boat

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The Prince Saint Vladimir is basically an old boat converted into a floating church that could make the sacred relics on board accessible to people in remote areas along the Volga River.

This isn’t the world’s first floating church, communities living on water have built plenty of them all around the world, but the Prince Saint Vladimir (named after the saint who baptized Russia) is the world’s first self-propelled chapel boat. Built back in 2004, the unique church was designed to reach even the shallowest waters, so that all the people of the Volvograd region could have access to a church and priest. There were two other similar churches built before, but because they were practically converted barges, they could only be moved by tugboats. The Prince Saint Vladimir is, however, a self-propelled craft.

On September 13, 2010, the great river voyage of the Prince Saint Vladimir began. The floating church will travel around 3,000 kilometers along the shores of the Volga, from the river mouth, all the way to Moscow. It will make stops in both cities and small communities along the shores, allowing people access to relics of eight great saints from the era of the Undivided Church. Its voyage will take the sacred ship to areas that have suffered from drought and terrible wildfires, and the Russian Church hopes it will bring comfort to locals.

Along with the captain and ship crew, a priest will be on board the Prince Saint Vladimir at all times, and he will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy at every stop.

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T’Spookhuys – Probably the World’s Spookiest Restaurant

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Known also as the “House of 1,000 Ghosts”, the T’Spookhuys Restaurant was designed to scare the hell out of its customers, with a truly creepy interior design and bizarre menu.

Located in the city of Turnhout, Belgium, T’Spookhuys was founded by Karl Hendrix and Bjorn Leys, as a place where people could experience the horrors of a haunted mansion. When it opened its gates to the public, on October 1st 1997, it shocked pretty much everyone with its creepy interior decorations, squeaky doors, smoke coming down from the ceiling, moving paintings, and other special effects. Soon everyone wanted to “dine in hell” and witness the weird spectacles and cameos that took part at the T’Spookhuys Restaurant.

Some of the foods on the menu included mud pie and spicy worms served in skull-shaped bowls, by waiters dressed as vampires and devil worshipers, but instead of driving people away, this incredibly spooky atmosphere brought in more curious clients. Not even the rumors about satanic rituals being performed on the restaurant’s upper floor didn’t scare anyone.

In 2008, eleven years after they opened this crazy establishment, the owners of T’Spookhuys decided to close down the place and open a whole new club, in the city of Zandhoven. To the joy of urban explorers, T’Spookhuys was left intact, allowing them to explore and take photos of what used to be probably the spookiest restaurant in the world. As you’d expect, there are dozens of stories of ghost and tormented spirits living in the abandoned restaurant, saying that they are the real reason the owners decided to close shop and move away, but no ghost sightings have been reported yet.

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A Trip to the Museum of Broken Relationships

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The Museum of Broken Relationships has to be one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in the world. Here, visitors can admire all kinds of memorabilia donated by people with broken hearts, from all over the world.

Olinka Vistina and Drazen Grubisic, two Croatian artists who broke up in 2006, decided to open the Museum of Broken Relationships when they realized how hard it was to give up items symbolizing lost love. This way, they could keep the items together, and before they knew it, the two artists started receiving all kinds of items from other broken-up couples.

Before settling permanently in Zagreb, and becoming the first private museum in Croatia, The Museum of Broken Relationships toured the world over, from Istanbul to New York, showcasing its collection of hundreds of bizarre items. Teddy bears, fluffy handcuffs, photographs, watches are among the most common items in found in the museum, but you can also see bizarre things like an axe, a pair of edible underwear and even an artificial lower leg, donated by a man who broke up with a nurse.

Olinka Vistina says the majority of donated items come from Great Britain, which means there must be many broken hearts there. The recently opened Museum of Broken Relationships is apparently a great success, welcoming up to 1,000 visitors every week.

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Excalibur – The World’s Tallest Free-Standing Climbing Wall

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At 37 meters tall, the Excalibur Tower is the tallest free-standing climbing wall in the world. A part of the Bjoeks climbing center, in the Dutch city of Groningen, Excalibur is the tallest thing for miles, offering a memorable panorama to climbers who manage to reach the top.

You’ll probably find considerably higher climbing walls set up on the side of buildings, bridges and dams, but as far as free-standing climbing walls go, Excalibur is the tallest, beating the Texas Stone Works wall by just a few inches. The 37-meter-high tower has an overhang of 36 feet, and is ideal for both beginner climbers and experts who will find themselves literally hanging in the air, due to the tower’s curvy shape.

According to both creators of the tower and climbers who have actually made it all the way to the top, the views from up there can prove a bit too much intimidating, considering the Netherlands aren’t known for their mountainous landscape, which makes the Excalibur the tallest thing as far as the eye can see.

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Sandu’ao – China’s Incredible Floating Village

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Often referred to as the “Future Water World”, the village of Sandu’ao is China’s largest community living on the sea.

Located in China’s Fujian Province, just 30 kilometers from downtown Ningde City, Sandu’ao is one of just few settlements built on water. It’s basically a huge self-sustaining floating village, where inhabitants need not set foot on dry land to ensure their survival. Making use of homemade and purchased boats, they make their living fishing and ocean farming. believe it or not Sandu’ao has its own floating postal service, convenience store, police station and even a series of restaurants.

After being devastated by aerial bombardments, during the Japanese invasion of World War 2, Sandu’ao went through a decade of rebuilding and development and is now China’s largest cultivation base of yellow croakers and various other seafood, including shellfish, shrimp and giant prawns. The sea farming is carried out in tens of thousands of cages and fishing nets that seen from a distance make a memorable sight many call “plantation on the sea”.

Just like most Chinese villages, Sandu’ao features modest houses made of wood, the only difference is they are built on sturdy pontoons made of bamboo and wood, wired to plastic barrels and pieces of PVC, to ensure buoyancy. Because in which it’s placed is completely cut off from the open sea, no waves threaten the peace of Sandu’ao and the pontoons simply sway gracefully on the calm waters.

An important source of seafood for the entire country, Sanu’ao is also becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction for travelers eager to experience everyday life on water.

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Out for Blood at Vampire Cafe in Ginza

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You have to go on a date but you have no idea in choosing the location? Looking to impress the girl of your dreams? Then, if you’re somewhere around Tokyo, you shouldn’t miss the Vampire Cafe in Ginza.

This gothic themed restaurant is located in a block in Ginza, which is a famous region in Tokyo. Once you get there, take the elavator up to the 7th floor, where waitresses wearing dark French maid outfits or waiters dressed in tuxedos will greet and lead you to the booth where you have your reservation. Throughout the restaurant you can hear Baroque music and the place is decorated with skulls, crucifixes, candelabras, spooky spiders and Dracula’s coffin that will give you the feeling that you’re in a horror movie.

When it comes for your order, is a little bit complicated because all the menu items are written in Kanji. The food is a mix of French, Italian and Japanesse traditional preparations. For appetizer, you can order delicious cheese rolls or spring rolls filled with tuna. Also, you can have marinated octopus, smoked salmon, duck or herb-crust chicken. Drinks are also good, for example, a red mix of wine with fruit juice is really refreshing. The price is a little spicy, considering that a dinner for two can cost over $100.

Even so, the Vampire Cafe in Tokyo will offer you a unique dining experience, so you shouldn’t miss it at all.

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Ordos – China’s Modern Ghost Town

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Known as the “empty city”, the Kangabashi district of Ordos was designed as a home for over 1 million Chinese, but it remains nearly uninhabited. What makes this even stranger is the fact that we’re talking about the second richest settlement in China.

Once just another a poor town in Inner Mongolia, Ordos boomed in 2003, thanks to its immense coal and natural gas reserves. The area surrounding Ordos has one sixth of China’s coal reserves and one third of its natural gas reserves. As was to be expected, the government couldn’t resist the temptation of starting lavish projects in the area, and the building of Kangabashi district is one of them.

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Austrian Lake Is Also a Popular Hiking Spot

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A rare natural phenomenon turns one of Austria’s most beautiful hiking trails into a 10 meter-deep lake, for half the year.

Located at the foot of the Hochschwab Mountains, in Tragoess, Styria, Green Lake is one of the most bizarre natural phenomena in the world. During the cold winter months, this place is almost completely dry, and used as a country park where hikers love to come and spend some time away from urban chaos. But as soon as temperatures rise, the snow and ice covering the mountaintops begin to melt, and the water pours down, filling the basin below with crystal-clear water.

Water levels go from one-two meters at most, to over 10 meters, in the early summer. The waters of Green Lake are highest in June, when this extraordinary place is invaded by divers, curious to see what a mountain park looks like underwater. Fish swimming over wooden benches, a grass-covered bottom, trees, roads, roads and even bridges create a surreal setting that feels like it belongs on dry ground. That’s because for half of the year, that’s exactly where it’s at.

Take a look at the amazing images of the Green Lake, shot during the summer season:

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Guliver Travels to China

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After entertaining children everywhere, with his incredible adventures in Lilliput, Gulliver seems to have moved to Beijing, China.

Walking by Gulliver, in Chaoyang Park, Beijing, people really feel like Lilliputians. And that’s not odd at all, considering our hero’s body is 70 meters long, the equivalent of a 20-story high building. Certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest inflatable statue in the world, Gulliver is actually a traveling museum that educated children on the workings of the human body. Once inside Gulliver, kids can walk by his beating heart, see his lungs inflate with air, or get lost in his large intestine, which is laid out like a maze.

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The Wacky Ice-Cream Graveyard of Vermont

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Have you ever wondered where ice-cream flavors go to die? Well, believe it or not, they have their very own cemetery, in Vermont.

The New England city of Vermont is famous for its Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, and the company’s Waterbury factory is the most popular tourist attraction in the whole state. One of the things that makes Ben&Jerry’s special is the wide variety of flavors, but as new ones emerge every year, older and unpopular ones reach the end of the line. To honor their memory, Ben&Jerry’s built a cemetery just for them.

Located on a hill, behind the famous Waterbury ice-cream factory, the Flavor Cemetery features hundreds of plastic tombstones, for every wacky flavor ever launched by Ben&Jerry’s. Each tombstone has an artist-written epitaph and a list of ingredients of the “deceased” ice-creams. Since the birth of Ben&Jerry’s, 200 flavors that have failed to impress customers, ended up pushing daisies in the Flavor Cemetery.

But don’t start crying over the demise of your favorite ice-cream flavor, just yet. According to Ben&Jerry’s, you have the power to bring “deceased” flavors back from the dead, by asking for it on their official website. If a flavor gets enough votes to convince management, it will be exhumed and brought back in the world of the living.

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Panjat Pinang – A Slippery Tradition of Indonesia

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Dating back to the Dutch colonial days, Panjat Pinang is one of the oldest, most popular traditions in Indonesia.

Panjat Pinang is a very unique way of celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day. Every year, in towns and villages around the country, tall nut-trees are chopped down and their trunks placed vertically, in the center of each settlement. A wheel full of prizes is placed on top, before the trunk is covered with oil or other lubricants, and young men are invited to try and reach the prizes.

This type of pole climbing was introduced to the Indonesians, by Dutch colonists, who came up with it as a form of entertainment. Every time an important event took place (like a wedding, or national holiday) they would install a Panjat Pinang pole and watch the natives attempt to reach the prizes.

Since the nut-tree poles are fairly high and very slippery, a single climber would have almost no chance of reaching the top, so contestants usually work together and split the rewards, if they succeed. Prizes consist of foods, like cheese, sugar, flour, and clothes. You might not think them worth the trouble, but for poor Indonesians, these are luxury items.

There is some controversy surrounding Panjat Pinang. While most Indonesia believe it is an educational challenge that teaches people to work together and work hard in reaching their goals, there are those who say Panjat Pinang is a degrading display that sends the wrong kind of message to Indonesia’s youth. There’s also the environmental issue of cutting down a significant number of nut-trees for such a hedonistic celebration.

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