World’s First One Million Star Hotel

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I know it sounds incredible, but the world’s first one million star hotel is not what you’d expect. If you love the outdoors, it’s actually better.

Five star hotels are awesome, seven star hotels are incredible, so just imagine what a million star hotel would be like. I bet you’re not picturing a corn field, are you? Well, that’s exactly what the world’s first million star hotel looks like – a building-like shape carved into a corn field, near the German village of Bad Kissingen.

42-year-old Monica Fritz thought it would be a great idea to offer tourists the chance of living in a million star hotel that actually offers a view of all the stars in its title. She carved out the hotel, installed hay beds, and dug holes in the ground as kitchens and toilets. Not exactly the luxury most people would expect from such a pompous sounding establishment, but the owner says the night view of the stars and the fresh air are compensation enough.

The so-called rooms of the one million star hotel cost between 3 and 7 euros and, believe it or not, have been booked in advance. Monica Fritz says that despite the short summer season (the corn will be harvested soon), her hotel already has 400 reservations for the following weeks.

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The Unique Stilt Fishermen of Guangxi

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The Jing people, an ethnic minority in China’s Guangxi Autonomous Region have a style of fishing unique in the world – they fish on stilts.

Unlike the stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka, who place wooden poles in the water and simply climb on them to fish, Jing fishermen actually walk on stilts and cast huge nets, in waters they couldn’t normally reach. This centuries old tradition is unique to the Jing people, and allows them to reach deep waters and avoid foot injuries from clams or sharp rocks on the sea floor.

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Christiania – Denmark’s Ultimate Freetown

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The Freetown of Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, where the people actually live freely.

Chritiania was created in 1971, and consists of the old Bådsmandsstræde Barracks and parts of the city ramparts. After the barracks were abandoned by the military, the area was simply taken over by the locals in the surrounding neighborhoods, as a playground for their children. This was actually a protest against the Danish government of that time, started by the article of one Jacob Ludvigsen.

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Horsetail Fall – The Awesome Firefall of Yosemite Park

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Waterfalls are awesome, but the Firefall of Yosemite Park is definitely something you don’t see every day, literally.

Horsetail Fall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the North American continent, but it’s only truly special for two weeks a year. The first firefalls of Yosemite Park were man made. Large fires were started atop Glacier Point and the red-hot embers were pushed down the granite wall, in the evening. It was a nice show of fireworks, until the fire hazard of the 1960s, when the dangerous practice stopped.

But that didn’t mean Yosemite was left without a firefall, if anything, people got to discover a much more beautiful one. When the natural conditions are just right, tourists can enjoy a unique spectacle where water turns into burning fire. During the last two weeks of February, when the sun shines above Yosemite Valley, and water pours down the granite wall, the firefall phenomenon takes place. But because clouds and storms are common during the winter months, and sometimes California has dry years, Horsetail Firefall can only be witnessed rarely, and timing is of the essence.

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The Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake

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Featuring tens of thousands of sign posts from all around the world, the Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake is one of the most popular roadside attractions along the Alaska Highway.

Located in Watson Lake, one of the newest towns of the Yukon, Sign Post Forest takes up a couple of acres, and features all kinds of signs, from street signs to license plates, and even huge road panels. This unique tourist attraction was born in 1942, when Private Carl K. Lindley was asked to repair a signpost damaged by a bulldozer. He decided to personalize the job by adding a new sign with the distance to his home town of Danville, Illinois.

Several soldiers followed his example and the tradition of adding signs was born. And it became more and more popular every year, with people bringing in different signs, from every place they traveled. In 1990, sign post number 10,000 was nailed in, and the count in 2008 had reached 65, 164 signs. With between 2,500 and 4,000 signs being added every year, the count has almost certainly passed the 70,000 mark.

Many of the signs nailed onto the signposts of Sign Post Forest have been especially created for this place, but there are a large number of original signs “borrowed” and brought all the way to the Yukon. The size of some of the signs – a 6-by-10-foot road panel from the German Autobahn, for example – makes you wonder how on Earth someone managed to bring them to the Sign Post Forest.

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The Mitchell Corn Palace

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As the only corn palace in the world, the Mitchell Corn Palace attracts over 500,000 visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Dakota.

The Mitchell Corn Palace is not a palace made of corn, as many assume when hearing its name, but it is almost completely covered with it. The Arab-looking structure is adorned with “Crop art”, specifically murals made from corn and other cereal. Some say it’s the most impressive thing they’ve ever seen, while other refer to it as just a gym covered n corn. I guess it’s just a matter of how much you appreciate agricultural art.

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The Mysterious Rock Sculptures of Staten Island

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On the beaches of Mount Loretto State Park, on Staten Island, you’ll find a series of mysterious rock towers and mounds, known as the Rock Sculptures of Staten Island.

Looking a lot like the ruins of an ancient temple, these mysterious rock formations cover near half a mile of beach, near the ruins of the old Raritan Bay clamming industry. Believe it or not, a single person has been stacking thousands of rocks on top of each other, for over a decade. Every Friday, Douglas Schwartz, a zookeeper at the Staten Island Zoo, sets out on the beach of Mount Loretto State Park and spends around 45 minutes stacking and stabilizing rocks into tower-like formations.

Some people refer to this place as “New York’s little Stonehenge” and those who have already discovered it appreciate its beauty and tranquil effect. There are children playing around the rock sculptures, trying to create their own, while grownups enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s amazing how relaxing looking at dozens of rock sculptures, on a deserted beach, can be.

 

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Hay-on-Wye – The Bibliophiles’ Mecca

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Home to the largest secondhand bookstore in the world, Hay-on-Wye is more than just a little town on the border between England and Wales, it’s book heaven on Earth.

The history of Hay-on-Wye as the “town of books” began on Fools’ Day of 1977, when during a bold publicity stunt, bibliophile Richard Booth announced the independence of Hay-on-Wye as a kingdom of books, with him as the monarch. Ambassadors were sent to the International Court of Justice, in Hague, and a rowing gunboat started patrolling on the river Wye. Since then, he managed to establish a healthy tourism industry based on books, and thousands of visitors come to Hay-on-Wye every year, to look for whatever books they need.

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Five Epic Pyramids of the World

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Most likely, the only pyramids you learned about in school were the “Great” ones in Egypt. If you were lucky, you maybe heard that there were some in Central America, but mostly the education was all about Giza and the buried Pharaohs. However, pyramids were built as sacred architecture all over the world, from Chichen Itza (Mexico) to Indonesia; from China to the Canary Islands. If you’re traveling because you’re interested in cultures that you may not have known about before, then you have to check out these epic pyramids of the world.

1) Pyramids of Guimar (Tenerife) – Tenerife is one of the most well-traveled locales in the Canary Islands. There are plenty of hotels and cheap flights to Tenerife; this makes the Pyramids of Guimar a great first “Pyramid That’s Not In Egypt” to see. Built out of volcanic rock and fitted together without mortar, these pyramids are mysterious in that a) they’re comparable in size to all the major pyramids of the world, yet b) no one knows who built them. There are all kinds of stories involving Gnostic Christians, Freemasons, or even Aztec traders before the first millennium, but no one knows for sure. That’s why they’re so interesting.

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Haw Par Villa – The Most Disturbing Theme Park in Singapore

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Haw Par Villa, also known as the Tiger Balm Gardens has to be one of the weirdest tourist spots you can find in Southeast Asia, and the weirdest in Singapore.

Aw Boob Haw and Aw Boon Par, the two brothers behind the famous Tiger Balm, built the Haw Par Villa in 1937. It featured over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas inspired from Chinese folklore, history and mythology, and quickly became an attraction for people who appreciated Chinese culture. Although it was a huge place, Haw Par Villa was always full of people taking pictures of its weird-looking exhibits and kids running around holding balloons. That was 20 years ago, because now Singapore’s weird theme park is almost deserted.

But just because this place lost its glow doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit, especially if you’re into offbeat attractions. I mean this place will really blow your mind, with statues like a woman breastfeeding her father in law, armed monkeys, or the human faced giant crab. Now these apparently do make some sense if you’ve read up on Chinese mythology, but to an uneducated guy like me they just look freaky.

Not to mention the Ten Stages of Hell exhibit, a place that will creep the hell out of a grownup, let alone a child. According to Chinese mythology, a soul must pass through ten courts of judgment, before being allowed into heaven, and Haw Par Villa has very detailed representations of these trials. As you’re about to see, they are not pretty.

All in all, Haw Par Villa is still considered a must-see attraction for people fond of Chinese culture, and efforts are being made to restore it to its former glory. If you want my opinion, don’t take your kids with you, unless you enjoy explaining why an old man is sucking on a woman’s breast…

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The Weird Nose Plugs of the Apatani Women

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Women of the Apatani Tribe, in India’s Apatani plateau, are famous for the bizarre nose plugs they’ve been wearing since times long passed.

The Apatani, or Tani, are a tribal group of about 60,000 members, often praised for their extremely efficient agriculture, performed without animals or machinery. They have no written record of their history, and traditions are passed down orally, from generation to generation.

One tradition that is quickly fading into the mist of time is the traditional Apatani nose plugs, worn by most of the elder women in the tribe. There was once a time when every woman had to wear these bizarre accessories, but since the middle of the 20th century, the custom began to die. According to the Apatani, the nose plug was born as a way of protecting the women of the tribe. Apparently, Apatani women have always been considered the most beautiful among the Arunachal tribes, their villages were constantly raided by neighboring tribes, and the women kidnapped.

To make themselves unattractive to the other tribes, Apatani women began wearing these hideous nose plugs and tattooing their faces with a horizontal line from the forehead to the tip of the nose, and five lines on their chins. Let’s face it, that turns off any raider in search of beautiful women to have his way with.

But the tradition of the Apatani nose plug hasn’t been practiced by any woman born after 1970, and as time passes, this custom will probably soon be forgotten. Well, at least we still have the Ethiopian lip plug.

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Seven Flora and Fauna that Can Only Be Found in the Everglades

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The Everglades is home to many unique plant and animal species, mostly because it’s the farthest-north tropical environment in the world. It is the only true tropical forest in the northern hemisphere. The flora and fauna found in the Everglades are without peer.

Fauna

Florida Panther & Florida Black Bear – This entry gets two, since you’re not likely to see either of them. Both species are critically endangered, so count yourself lucky if you see the slight frame and tan fur of the Florida Panther, or hear the inquisitive snuffling of the Florida Black Bear. Well, count yourself lucky, back away slowly, and hope the animal isn’t hungry.

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The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival

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Dating back to the year 1357, the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is the oldest wrestling event in the world, attracting oiled up wrestlers from all over Turkey, and beyond.

Oil wrestling is one of Turkey’s most popular sports, and regarded by many as the manliest sport on Earth, so it’s no wonder over 1,500 oiled up Turks gather, every year, on a green field near Edirne, for a seven day event that decides the best oil wrestler in the land.

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Go See the Titanic, in Tennessee

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Just because it sank almost 100 years ago, doesn’t mean you can’t visit the famous Titanic. One of the best way to do it is to travel to the Titanic Museum, in rural Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The world’s largest museum attraction, this 50% scale replica of the Titanic is actually just the front bow of the famous ship. Located in Pigeon Forge, this new tourist attraction cost $24 million and took over one year to build. But it has plans of attracting around 1 million visitors a year.

Unlike its sister museum, in Branson, Missouri, The Titanic of Pigeon Forge is not a Hollywood style museum, it’s an interactive experience that features all the tragic elements of the Titanic story. As soon as they enter the museum, visitors are offered a boarding pass with the name of one of the original passengers, and are greeted by in-character stewards and ship officers, always ready to offer information about the ship. There is even a section where visitors can sink there hand in a tank of -2 degrees Celsius cold water, the temperature the water was when the Titanic sank.

The Titanic Museum of Pigeon Forge also has a replica of the beautiful White Star liners Grand Staircase, as well as 400 artefacts from the original Titanic, including a life vest, and a tooth, recovered from survivors.

Even though the Titanic didn’t make it to America, it continues to fascinate its inhabitants, and the owners of the Titanic Museum hope this will make their investment profitable.

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The Sculpture Park of Veijo Rönkkönen Is the Weirdest Place in Finland

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Deep in the forest of Parikkala, in the easternmost part of Finland, lies one of the craziest tourist attractions on the face of the planet – the sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen.

Regarded by most as the most important ensemble of contemporary folk art in Finland, the sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen is a lot to take in, the first time you visit. Finding yourself surrounded by hundreds of creepy statues, grinning at you with their real human teeth, is enough to spook you into turning back as soon as you set foot in the park.

Veijo Rönkkönen, a former paper mill worker, completed his first sculpture in 1961, and now his yard, and the path leading to it, are filled with over 450 statues, 200 of which are self portraits of the artist in Yoga positions he has mastered so far. The statues have loudspeakers hidden inside them, and the sound effects add to the eeriness of this place.

Although he has had the chance to exhibit and even sell his artworks, in auctions, Veijo Rönkkönen has never agreed to showcase his art. Every time he was asked to showcase his work, the near-hermit always replied he needed to discuss it with the statues first. Sadly, they never agreed to travel.

The sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen is free to visit, if you dare, but the artist insists every visitor sign his logbook, before they leave.

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