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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i-City – The Nighttime Wonderland of Malaysia

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i-City, one of the latest high-tech attractions of Malaysia, can best be described as an unconventional mix of Oriental style and the latest in lighting technology.

Located in the city of Shah Alam, i-City is a one-of-a-kind theme-park where all the main attractions are made of plastic and millions of bright LED lights. Similar to Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch, during the day, i-City’s artificial forest of maple and pine trees really comes to life at night. Made out of plastic and fitted with colorful LEDs, they put on a light show unlike any other.

Inaugurated in early 2010, Shah Alam‘s i-City has already become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia. From rows upon rows of LED-made Chinese lanterns, to LED peacocks, flamingos and LED cherry blossoms, i-City offers a variety of unique sights that are sure to amaze anyone who visits here.

Though nothing compares to the look and smell of real trees, the colorful display of i-City’s magical forest is proof of the wonderful things man can create if he puts his mind to it.Now sit back and check out a set of mind-blowing photos taken in i-City, at night.

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Manshyiat Naser – The City of Garbage

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The Manshyiat Naser slum, on the outskirts of Cairo, is often referred to as “The City of Garbage” because of the large quantities of trash shipped here from all over Egypt’s capital city.

As unbelievable as the photos below may look, Manshyiat Naser is a real place, where people make their living out of trash. Like in any other normal community, you’ll find streets, houses and apartments throughout the settlement, but everything and everyone here depends on garbage. The inhabitants of Manshyiat Naser (called Zabbaleen) bring the trash into the city, by truck, cart, or any other means necessary, and sort any recyclable or useful waste.

Every street and every building in Manshyiat Naser is stacked with mountains of garbage, and you’ll see men, women and children thoroughly digging through them, looking for something they can sell. Although it may seem like an outdated system of handling trash, the Zabbaleen do a far better job than any of the waste handling systems of the modern world. Around 80% of the trash is recycled and resold, while the rest is either fed to the pigs roaming through the city streets, or burned for fuel.

The Zabbaleen barely manage to survive on what they make sorting out garbage, but many of them have done it for generations and wouldn’t conceive living their lives otherwise. They dispose of about a third of Cairo’s garbage, at no cost to authorities, and manage to make a decent living for them and their families. The Model of Manshyiat Naser has been copied in various cities around the world, including Manila, Bombay and Los Angeles.

Many photographers have been fascinated by the Zabbaleen way of life and the distinct look of the City of Garbage. As I look at the photos below, I can’t help but wonder: where’s Wall-E when you need him?

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Kori no Suizokukan – Japan’s Frozen Aquarium

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As a way of battling the summer heatwave that hit Japan this year, authorities have inaugurated a frozen aquarium that will keep visitors cool and entertained.

Kori no Suizokukan is located in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture and features around 450 specimens of around 80 species of marine wildlife, all captured at a nearby sea port. Visitors can enjoy a brief break from the scorching sun and admire all sorts of fish, crabs or octopuses, as well as unusual objects like action figures, bottles of sake, or flowers, all embedded in huge blocks of ice.

The Frozen Aquarium was inaugurated, in Kesennuma’s fish market, in 2002, and uses flash-freezing technology to conserve fresh specimens and keep them looking so good.

While the Frozen Aquarium is a welcome tourist attraction, visitors can only spend a few minutes inside. Because temperatures inside the aquarium reach -20 degrees Celsius, a special suit is needed to keep people from becoming freezing exhibits themselves. Without these special suits, visitors would start feeling severe pains in just five minutes time.


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The Paper House Is All Wrapped in Newspapers

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Built by Elis Stemnan, the mechanical engineer who invented the machine that makes paper clips, the Paper House of Rockport is one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Massachusetts.

The Paper House was built in 1922, with a common wooden structure. But like all amateur inventors, Mr. Stemnan was curious, so he decided to use his new house to find out if paper offered good enough insulation. He covered an entire wall with layers upon layers of rolled newspapers, held together by his very own glue, made from water, flour and apple peals. One thing led to another, and Elis Steman ended up wrapping the whole house in rolled newspapers. The interior of the house is also completely made of paper, including the furniture, window curtains and decorations. The piano alone is real and wrapped entirely in newspapers.

With the help of neighbors who supported him in his efforts, and always brought him their newspapers, Elis Stemnan managed to cover his house in around 100,000 rolled newspapers. He coated it all in varnish to protect it from weathering away. On the outside, where the varnish wore off, visitors can spend hours reading headlines and snippets from articles almost a century old.

One question no one has ever been able to answer is why Elis Stemnan went through all the trouble to create the paper House. Most people say he did it to be thrifty, and because newspapers were abundant and cheap, back then.

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Meet the Thermometer Man

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Richard T. Porter has earned the nickname “The Thermometer Man” by putting together a collection of around 5,000 thermometer of various shapes and sizes.

The small village of Onset, in Wareham, Massachusetts, may not be among the world’s top travel destination, but Richard T. Porter has been working long and hard to put this settlement on the tourist map. He spent decades putting together his thermometer collection and opened the Porter Thermometer Museum. The founder, curator and educator of this unusual museum has been featured by Ripley’s Believe Ir or Not, and is in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s largest collection of thermometers.

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Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch

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The Bottle Tree Ranch created by Elmer Long is one of the most impressive attractions along Route 66, featuring hundreds with bottle-filled trees.

Elmer Long is the quirky artist behind the now famous Bottle Tree Ranch. He looks a lot like one of the guys from ZZ Top, but he’s really a fascinating man who loves greeting and getting to know the people who visit his roadside masterpiece. As a kid, Elmer used to travel through the desert, with his dad, who would collect any objects they found, and keep extensive notes about their location.

After Elmer’s dad died, he was left with a sizable collection of colorful bottles, but he had no idea what to do with it. One day, it hit him – he decided to build his first bottle tree. He got to welding and after he completed his work, knew that he had to go on. Elmer Long started the Bottle Tree Ranch in 2000, and since then has created over 200 scrap metal bottle trees.

Visiting the Bottle Tree Ranch of California’s Mojave County isn’t just about admiring the beautiful art installations, or hearing the sweet melody created by the wind going through the bottles, it’s also about meeting the artist. Elmer Long is just as fascinating as his bottle ranch, always welcoming guests and willing to strike up a conversation. He always complains about how people now prefer the interstates, even though they are completely soulless, compared to the old routes. He longs for the old days when people also traveled to discover the towns and wonders along the roads.

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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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