Takeda Castle Ruins – Japan’s Breathtaking Castle in the Sky

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, then you’re probably familiar with Durmstrang Institute – a perfectly hidden school in the mountains for dark witches and wizards. If this school were to exist in real life, I think I’ve found the perfect place for it – Japan’s Takeda Castle. This spectacular castle is located in Hyogo Prefecture in the Wadayamacho district of Asago. It was constructed centuries ago on the summit of a 1000 foot high mountain. Today, the ruins of the castle run a quarter of a mile long and over 300 foot wide.

Takeda Castle is special because of the breathtaking view it presents on autumn mornings (between sunrise and 8 am). That’s when a thick mist hangs over the sky because of a sharp drop in overnight temperatures. The effect created by the mist is truly breathtaking – like a castle in the sky, floating on clouds. The entire site is often referred to as Japan’s Machu Picchu, after the majestic mountain ruins of Peru. The castle, in all its beauty and ancient glory, attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The number of visitors began to grow after the site was featured in a 2012 Japanese film called ‘Anata e’.

castle-in-the-sky

..

The Cinema at the End of the World

2 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The world’s eeriest cinema hall is located in the Sinai Peninsula, in the Egyptian desert. Well, it isn’t exactly a hall. It’s more like an arrangement of wooden seats out in the open. It has been dubbed the ‘End of the World’ Cinema, and I think it couldn’t have had a better name. The neat arrangement of wooden seats in the middle of nowhere looks as apocalyptic as you can imagine – like a cinema used by a mysterious ancient civilization. The 150 seats are completely worn out, the screen’s foundations are broken and the building that once housed the generator and projector is in ruins. Surprisingly, the cinema is only a decade old.

I’m really not sure who would want to watch a movie sitting out in the open in the middle of a desert, but apparently a crazy Frenchman thought it was a brilliant idea. The project was his brainchild – he bought everything he needed for the cinema from an old theater in Cairo. According to Kaupo Kikkas, an Estonian photographer who recently took pictures of the site, the cinema was doomed ever since its conception.

“On a sunny day at the very beginning of this millennium, a crazy Frenchman found himself in the desert of Sinai,” he wrote. “After some puffs of a magic smoke he wondered – how come there are no cinemas in the middle of the desert? He flew back to Paris and arranged some money. After that he went to Cairo to buy original seats and projection equipment from an old cinema theater. Then came back to Sinai, arranged a generator for electricity, and a monstrous tractor to pull up the screen that was like a gigantic sail. And now more or less everything was ready for the premier.”

end-of-the-world-cinema

..

Siberia’s Real-Life Swan Lake Teeming with Life in the Dead of Winter

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Svetloe Lake, located near Urozhainoe village in Siberia, is better known to locals as the Swan Lake. Come February, the lake is usually teeming with activity – beautiful swans arrive in hundreds and make this place their winter home, which is surprising because swans generally prefer to fly further south where the climate isn’t so harsh.

What makes Svetloe Lake so special that swans willingly flock at it in the dead of winter? Well, for starters, it is fed by many warm springs so the temperature of the water is always above zero – even when the surrounding air drops to minus 40C. The lake’s waters are warm in comparison, at 5C to 6C, making it the perfect hang-out place for the beautiful birds. The swans began to appear at the lake way back in 1967. Only about 15 birds would make an appearance then, but the numbers have steadily increased to over 350 today and still continue to rise.

Swan-Lake-Russia8

..

The Hauntingly Beautiful Blue Pond of Hokkaido

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

If you happen to have a Mac that runs on OSX Mountain Lion, then these images are probably familiar to you. The aptly named ‘Blue Pond’ reflects such a pristine blue color off its waters, that you just can’t take your eyes off it. The pond, located on the left bank of River Bieigawa near the town of Biei in Hokkaido Island, Japan, wasn’t very well known until recently, when the computer giant decided to make it a part of their latest operating system.

Interestingly, the Blue Pond is not a natural formation. The artificial pond was created when a dam was built to protect the area from mud flows due to its proximity to a volcano on Mt. Tokachi. When the volcano erupted in December 1988, local officials decided to construct the dam upstream along the river. All the water blocked by this dam gets collected in a depression in the forest, creating the pond.

It’s not just the striking blue that sets the pond apart, but also the barren tree stumps that protrude from the surface of the water. Also, the color of the pond hardly remains constant. It keeps varying based on the season, and the viewing angle. In a certain light and angle, the electric blue pond appears to be a lovely green instead. This unusual phenomenon has no real scientific explanation. Some theories attribute it to a high concentration of aluminum hydroxide in the water. The naturally occurring mineral is known to reflect the shorter wavelength blue light, just like the earth’s atmosphere does. Of course, the water itself is colorless.

Blue-Pond-in-Hokkaido

..

No Grownups Allowed at Japan’s Children-Only Magical Sweets Shop

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Most teenagers can’t wait until they’re 21 so they can have a legal ID, but here’s one shop in Japan that will make them want to stay young forever – an ID proving that they’re a sixth grader or younger. Because that’s how young you’ve got to be to enter Japan’s Future Sweets Factory – a magical place filled with all things sweet and delicious. Kids get to enter the factory alone, leaving their parents behind in the lobby area.

Future Sweets Factory is located on the premises of the hugely popular Patisserie es Koyama (famous for its special roll cake), in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture. The entrance to the factory is through a large, colorful egg-shaped dome. Beyond the dome lies a waiting hall where children bid goodbye to their parents for a few hours. The kids proceed through a special kid-sized door to where all the magic happens, just like in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

Inside the factory, away from their parents’ watchful eyes, kids are treated to samples of freshly made sweets. True to its name, at the Future Sweets Factory kids get to sample all kinds of sweets that are yet to hit the market. They also get to watch the chefs bake three special surprise sweets that cost only 150 yen each. The factory is decorated to suit the kids’ tastes – with cartoon characters and robots.

Japanese-sweets-shop

..

You Can Win $1 Million Playing on the World’s Most Extreme Golf Course, But You’ll Need a Helicopter

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The Legend Golf and Safari Resort is truly, well, legendary. The one-of-a-kind golf course is located in South Africa’s north-eastern Limpopo Province, nestled within the 22,000 hectare Entabeni Game Reserve. It is the longest par 72 golf course in the world, and of course safe from all the wildlife. It is also the only one with all 19 holes individually designed by golf legends like Trevor Immelman, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, among others. There’s a tribute course too, made up of perfect replicas of nine of the best par 3’s in the world.

But the thing that makes Legend Golf and Safari Resort really special is the hole that everyone comes to play – the Xtreme 19th. It is believed to be the longest, highest and most dramatic par 3 in the world. The hole itself is 587 meters away from the tee-off box and if you manage to hit a hole-in-one, you are guaranteed a special price of US $1 million. But, truth be told, you’d probably have a better chance of winning the lottery.

To get a shot at the prize money, you first need to take a helicopter ride to the tee box, which is high up a cliff on Hanlip Mountain. Standing up there could make you feel like you really are at the edge of South Africa. The tee box is 430 meters above the green (shaped like the African continent), providing a breathtaking panoramic background and plenty of leverage as well. As soon as you reach the high ground, you are handed six balls equipped with tracking devices and then you are welcome to try your luck.

extreme-golf-course

..

Kids Get a Taste of the Tough Life at Hungarian Military Summer Camp

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Summer camp in the town of Mogyoród, Hungary plays out slightly differently than what most kids are used to in other parts of the world. Hundreds of children between the ages of 11 and 22 gather at the camp each year, to experience the tough military life for a week. These kids are actually attracted to the military way of life and volunteer to sign up for the camp. It’s not surprising, actually, given the fact that militarism is dominant in Hungarian society.

At the Military Traditional Association, the kids live in tents, receive military training from experienced, active soldiers and learn all about the Order and the Homeland. They stay up all night on guard duty, learn how to fire AK-47s (with blanks, of course) and are put through stimulation tear gas attacks. Intense physical exercise, educational behaviorism and screamed orders is what the week is all about.

Zsolt Horvath, head of the military summer camp, said: “We give them real military training at a basic level. They have endurance tests, running sessions in the morning, fitness exercises. Throughout the day they listen to trainers from various army units who teach them exercises.” Discipline is paramount at the camp – any misbehavior is punishable with push-ups. Both practical and theoretical training are imparted, hoping to groom future members of the Hungarian army.

Mogyorod-military-summer-camp

..

The Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania – A Famous Geological Oddity

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

If you strike a rock, you’d expect to hear a dull ‘thud’. Or maybe a ‘chink’. Definitely not a ringing sound. So you’d be surprised to know that ringing rocks actually do exist. Nestled in the midst of the 128-acre Ringing Rocks County Park in Pennsylvania, is a field of unique boulders. Spread out across seven to eight acres, the boulders produce a distinctive metallic ‘clang’ when struck with a hammer or another piece of rock. Native Americans have known about the rocks for centuries, and passed on their knowledge to the first White settlers in the mid-1700s.

The sound produced by the rocks is so unexpected that it could get you wondering if they are really made of stone. They actually sound hollow and metallic. The strange phenomenon has baffled scientists and geologists for years. Several experiments have been conducted on the ringing rocks, but the exact reason for the unusual sound remains unknown.

Richard Faas, a geologist from Pennsylvania, tested a few of the rocks in his lab in 1965. He discovered that when struck, each individual rock produced low frequency tones that aren’t audible to the human ear. The tones from multiple rocks interact with each other and it’s the collective sound that we get to hear.

ringing-rocks

..

America’s Most Artistic Parking Garage

2 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The city of Detroit is home to the most artistic, most magnificent car park in America. The opulent structure that was once known as Michigan Theater is now being used as a three-level parking garage. And here’s the irony of the situation – one of the reasons the theater had closed down was insufficient parking space!

In fact, you could safely say that the car park has come a full circle. Before the theater had opened at the site, it used to contain Henry Ford’s first automobile workshop. That was torn down in 1926 and the theater was constructed with a massive budget of $5 million. Michigan Theater was one of the largest in the state – it could accommodate 4,000 people.

The premises was a multiplex of sorts – it served as a theater, concert hall and movie house. The French Renaissance décor included 10-foot tall chandeliers, a gilded four-story lobby, and mezzanine seating for black tie guests. The structure, covering 1,000 sq. ft., was an architectural marvel and a symbol of Detroit’s growing wealth.

Michigan-Theater-parking-garage

..

Cambodia’s Rickety Bamboo Trains

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Although Cambodia has a fine network of railway tracks dating back to the French colonial days, there are hardly any trains running these days. Real trains, that is. The locals get by perfectly well with their own indigenous invention – bamboo trains.

The Cambodian railway system never really recovered from the horrors of war and the Khmer Rouge genocide that happened decades ago. They have just one proper train line in service and the rest of the tracks were covered for years by homemade trains called ‘norrys’. These weird contraptions aren’t exactly what you’d call luxury transport. But they are cheap – about 50 cents a ride. And that suits the locals just fine.

Norrys are made of bamboo, wood and sometimes even parts of old tanks. The first one was built in the 1980s by 73-year-old Pat Oun, or so he claims. The earlier versions didn’t have any engines. Drivers just stood in the train and used long bamboo poles to propel the vehicle down the tracks. “I did this for 20 to 30 kilometers in the past,” said Pat, as he demonstrated the motion.

bamboo-trains-Cambodia

..

Solvay Hut – The World’s Most Precariously Placed Mountain Hut

2 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The Solvay Hut may be quite humble in its construction, but the view it offers its residents is priceless. This tiny hut is perched right on the narrow north-eastern ridge of Matterhorn, in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is the highest mountain hut in the region, at over 13,000 foot above ground level.

The emergency refuge is owned by the Swiss Alpine club, and is intended to provide food and shelter to mountaineers, hikers and climbers. At about 1,500 foot below the summit and two-thirds up the mountain, it provides respite to many Matterhorn climbers and rewards them with the breathtaking view of all the Monte Rosa summits. It is only meant to be used during emergencies, but climbers do stop there to rest and click photographs.

The hut, which can accommodate about 10 people, is not a recent construction. It was actually built way back in 1915 and took only five days to complete. All the building materials were brought up to Hornli Hut, just 2,500 foot below, with the help of animals. A small temp cable car was used to haul up the materials from there. It was rebuilt in 1966 and an emergency telephone was installed in 1976.

Solvay-Hut

..

The Creepy Moving Mannequins of One Mysterious New Hamburg House Will Probably Freak You Out

4 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The John Lawson House, located in the vicinity of the New Hamburg train station in New York, is a mystery in its own right. You couldn’t really say it’s haunted, but it has its own share of secrets that no one has managed to reveal. Yet.

Every day, the porch at the John Lawson House is occupied by life-sized female mannequins dressed in clothes from the last century. Their number, position and theme varies from day to day. But no one knows how they get there. No living person has ever been spotted at the house, which is one of six properties at Main Street Historic District.

Some believe that the dolls have a message to convey. They think the dolls are trying to gesture and point towards an unsolved riddle. Others say that the dolls’ mystery lies in the history of the house. In 1871, during a two-week cold wave, a train crashed just 200 feet from the house, instantly killing 22 people. It is believed that the dolls are always pointing towards that crash site.

John-Lawson-House-mannequins

..

Surfing the Freezing Waters of Lake Superior in the Dead of Winter

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

When you think of surfing, balmy beaches and warm summer days come to mind. But not for everyone. Take this one group of surfers from Minnesota who don’t seem to mind diving into the freezing waters of Lake Superior in the dead of winter for a little hardcore action.

This die-hard group of surfers have been spotted riding the waves of the Great Lakes, near Stony Point, during winter, literally emerging from the cold water with icicles hanging from their faces and thick wetsuits. The peak season for surfing at the lake is said to be between January and March and the surfers seem to love it even more if there’s a winter storm, because that means stronger waves. The wind’s long and powerful rush across the lake’s surface that powers the tide can create waves that can go up to 10 – 12 foot high. There have been times when the wave action has reached 30-foot on Lake Superior, during the throes of a raging storm.

Great-Lakes-Surfing6

..

Pointing the Way: The Mysterious Giant Arrows Scattered Across America

2 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

So what if there were no high-tech GPS devices in the 1920s? Back then the US Postal Service invented its own navigation system – giant concrete arrows that pointed the way to Air Mail pilots.

When America’s first Transcontinental Air Mail route opened in 1920, pilots faced difficulties in navigating the coast-to-coast route over the American Midwest. This was a time when radar and other modern flight planning implements were yet to be invented.

The very first pilots had to traverse the route relying on landmarks, which weren’t always visible during bad weather. So in 1923, Congress approved the construction of a network of beacons to make the route navigable in the rain or the dark.

These beacons consisted of massive concrete arrows, painted bright yellow, set into the land about 10 miles apart. The arrows were illuminated by 50-foot-towers with powerful rotating gas lights. Visible from a height of 10,000 meters, the arrows helped pilots find their way during the worst weather and at night. They were also located close to emergency airfields just in case airplanes needed to make an emergency landing.

giant-concrete-arrows

..

Mysterious Lightning Storm Occurs in Exactly the Same Place 160 Nights a Year, Lasts up to 10 Hours a Night

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The world’s greatest natural sound and light show occurs over the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, a 15 hour drive from Bogota, Columbia. For centuries, a storm unleashing over 40,000 bolts of lightning has ripped across the night sky at exactly the same spot over Lake Maracaibo. This has occurred repeatedly for as many as 160 nights a year, lasting up to 10 hours a night.

The people of northwestern Venezuela call the phenomenon ‘rib a-ba’, which means ‘river of fire in the sky’. It is also known as ‘Relámpago del Catatumbo’, the ‘everlasting storm’. It generates 1.2 million lightning strikes a year (the highest in the world), visible from almost 250 miles away. For centuries, the ‘Beacon of Maracaibo’ has guided sailors and fishermen at night. It is now a popular tourist attraction in the region.

Catatumbo-lightning

..

Page 3 of 3912345...102030...Last »