China Opens Chocolate Theme-Park in Beijing

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Located inside the Olympic Stadium, in Beijing, the World Chocolate Dream Park is an Asian version of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, in real life.

Announced last year, as a way of pleasing the increasing number of Chinese chocoholics, the World Chocolate Dream Park is finally open to the public. As promised, the chocolate theme-park features a number of China’s historical and cultural symbols, including a 12-meter-long  chocolate replica of the Great Wall, an army of 560 terracotta soldiers of Emperor Qingshihuang made of chocolate, and a traditional Chinese painting of Panorama Along the Upper River During the Qingming Festival, in original size.

The chocolate terracotta army was announced as life-size, back in 2009, but the miniatures aren’t too shabby. According to a Chinese official, many European chocolate makers wanted in on the project, considering it’s a great way to advertise chocolate to a huge market that’s just discovering it.

Photos via Xinhua

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The Doll-Hospital of Lisbon

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If your favorite doll suffered serious damaged that you can’t fix yourself, jump on a plane to Lisbon and take it to the Doll Hospital. They’ll fix it right up.

Located in Figueira Square, Lisbon, the Doll Hospital has been “treating” dolls since 1830 and it’s not going to go out of business anytime soon. Equipped with an emergency and operating rooms, this bizarre establishment has experienced doll doctors and a wide range of spare parts, in case you’re doll needs something replaced.

If people ever stop having their dolls repaired, the Doll Hospital of Lisbon will donate its entire collection of abandoned dolls and spare parts to a local museum. I’m sure they’d fit better on The Island of the Dolls, but…

Photos by REUTERS

via Xinhua

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Underwater Museum Starts to Take Shape

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Announced for over a year now, the world’s largest underwater museum recently received its first exhibits.

The seabed of the Mexican Caribbean is now host to a series of life-size sculptures on display in Mexico’s Underwater Museum. But they are just a few of the 400 statues that will be lowered down to the bottom in the following months.

Located in the National Marine Park, the Underwater Museum aims to raise environmental awareness by creating an artificial reef. Scientists hope the statues will attract young algae that will color them vividly.

Photos by Jason de Caires/BARCROFT MEDIA

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Grotto of the Redemption

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The Grotto of the Redemption is an excellent example of what man can achieve with faith and hard work.

Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant ordained as a priest in 1897. At some point he fell critically  ill with pneumonia and vowed he would dedicate his life to building a shrine to The Virgin Mary, if she would save his life. Father Dobberstein survived and soon after his recovery began gathering piles of rocks for his mission. His search for materials lasted 14 years.

Construction of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,  began in 1912. Foundations were poured, stone slabs were set into place, all in the name of The Holy Virgin. Father Dobberson was actively involved in the building process and many times his hands would crack and bleed from all the cement. He would say “there isn’t any redemption without a little blood”.

Though West Bend isn’t the best place to look for crystals and semi-precious stones, Paul Dobberstein traveled to Hot Springs, Black Hills and Carlsbad Caverns and managed to gather truckloads of materials for his Grotto of the Redemption. The redeeming priest worked on expanding and improving the grotto until he died, in 1954, at the end of a long day’s work.

At the time of Dobberstein’s death, the Grotto of the Redemption was the size of a city block and is still expanding today. The crystals, semi-precious stones and petrified wood used to decorate the structures of the grotto are said to be worth over $4,300,000.

Considered “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place”, the Grotto of the Redemption welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. It reminds me a lot of the Ideal Palace.

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The PL Peace Tower – World’s Coolest Tower?

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The PL Peace Tower in Tondabayashi, a town close to Osaka, Japan is by far one of the most “bizarre yet cool” buildings I have ever seen.

One of the many structures located in the PL Holy Land, the PL Peace Tower was built back in 1970, using the newest construction technique at the time. It belongs to the Perfect Liberty Church, a religious movement founded in 1924 that teaches its followers that “Life is Art” and they should express themselves in everuthing they do.

The shape of the PL Peace Tower, resembling a single finger pointing at the sky, symbolizes one of the church founder’s revelation that ” the truth is one”. It’s also an international symbol of world peace. Inside the Peace Tower you’ll find an unlimited list of people who lost their lives because of human wars.

The PL Peace Tower is 180 meters high and thanks to a low center of gravity (only 12 meters above ground), it can tilt up to 45 degrees and swing back to its original position. This makes it extremely resistant to earthquakes. Its strange but fascinating shape was achieved through the use of shotcrete, spaying concrete onto wire netting.

Photos via Juergen Specht

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Japan’s Famous Wine Spa Reopened

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Located in Kowakien Yunessun, the biggest, most popular spa center in Japan, the outdoor has opened its gates once again.

Hundreds of gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau, the most popular wine in Japan, are used during the 12 day period the wine spa welcomes its guests. Four the last four years, Japanese wine lovers have had the opportunity to drink and bathe in the liquor they love so much, at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.

The red pool is constantly fed wine through the wine-bottle-shaped spring, while a sommelier stands by to fill up the glasses of those craving some more Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apart from a wine pool, the spa center also features a sake spa, green tea spa and coffee spa, where clients can bathe in the drinks mentioned.

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Mexico’s Island of the Dolls Is Beyond Creepy

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Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

via Bizarre

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China’s Kingdom Of The Dwarves

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Over 100 height-challenged Chinese people perform in a show called Kingdom Of The Dwarves, close to Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Casting for the Kingdom Of The Dwarves show took place last summer, with only two conditions stipulated: the performers had to be between 18 and 40 years old and be shorter than 130 cm (4’3″). No other special skills were required. Now they take the stage of the Kunming World Butterflies Garden twice a day, singing, dancing and performing comedy sketches to entertain the crowds.

I know it looks like exploitation and discrimination, but the short performers see it only as another form of migrant labor and a haven away from people who mock and tease them on a daily basis. With discrimination and unemployment still high in China, the little people saw the Kingdom Of The Dwarves as an opportunity.

Just to clear things up, this is just a profitable theme park, not a community formed by the dwarves themselves as a shelter, and the mushroom houses only serve as decor and changing rooms, not as living quarters.

Photos by REUTERS

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Story of the Cardrona Bra Fence

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The Cardrona Bra Fence was one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in New Zealand. Located in Central Otago, it was admired by some, but considered an eyesore by others.

The famous fence was born on Christmas of 1999, when 4 bras were discovered hanging on the fence. Word spread fast and, by the end of February, 60 bras were dancing in the wind, at Cardrona. They were soon removed, but news of the Bra Fence spread fast and by the year 2000, over 200 bras covered the fence. Once again, the bras just disappeared, but by 2006 over 800 women underwear garments were hanging in the wind.

While some of the locals were grateful for this offbeat tourist attraction, some landowners found the Cardrona Bra Fence vulgar and made attempts to have it removed. Because it was located on public road reserve, the local council declared the fence a traffic hazard and ordered the bras removed.

Though it no longer exists, the story of the Cardrona Bra Fence won’t soon be forgotten and thankfully, there are some photos around the interwebs:

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Watts Tower – One Man’s Dream Turned Reality

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“I had in mind to do something big and I did it.” That’s what Simon Rodia said about his work.

Designed by Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia, Watts Towers are a famous example of vernacular architecture, located in the Watts district, Los Angeles. The talented construction worker spent all his spare time, between 1921 and 1954, working on this collection of 17 interconnected steel towers. The amateur structures are made from steel rods wrapped in wire and coated in mortar.

Rodia decorated his architectural masterpieces with found stuff, like bottle caps, seashells, broken glass and pottery. Children from all over the neighborhood would search for pieces of glass and bring it to Simon Rodia, in hope their findings would be included in his project.

Unfortunately, the talented Italian didn’t get along with his neighbors and he’d often find his Watts Towers vandalized. One day, sick of all the abuse, he left and never came back. In the following years his work became more and more popular, but the towers were about to be teared down by the city, when community activists formed the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and managed to save them.

Nowadays, Watts Towers is a Historical Park.

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Golden Rock – Nature’s Balancing Act

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The gold-covered granite boulder perched atop a stone pedestal known as Golden Rock,  is one of the most breathtaking sights in Burma.

The third most sacred place in Burma, after Schwedagon Pagoda and Mahamuni Pagoda, Golden Rock lies at the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo, in Mon State. It is completely covered with gold leaves layered by Buddhist devotees and is topped by a 5.5 meters-tall pagoda.

Legend has it Buddha, on one of his travels on Earth, gave a strand of his hair to a hermit, who with his dying breath asked his son Tissa to enshrine the lock in a boulder shaped like his head. The child later became King of Burma and fulfilled his father’s wish by placing the divine gift in a boulder on Mount Kyaiktiyo. Burmese Buddhists believe it’s the strand of hair that keeps Golden Rock in place, defying gravity.

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The Other Upside-Down House

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I chose to name this post “the other upside-down house” because I wrote about a very similar house when I started this site.

Built in 2008, for an art exhibition, the “other upside down house” is located on Usedom, an island in northern Germany. It was financed and constructed by Polish partners Klausdiusz Golos and Sebastian Mikiciuk, who just wanted to make something different. Only, I wonder if they know a practically identical house already exists in their native country of Poland.

The builders said they were inspired by similar structures in America and Spain, that were upside down on the outside, but normal on the inside. Visitors of the “other upside-down house” said the weird interior make them feel dizzy and disoriented.

Although the house is perfectly safe, nobody is living in it right now.

Photos by Hemmy

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Oasis of the Seas – The Giant of the Waters

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The Titanic, Queen Elizabeth 2 or Grand Princess were all very impressive boats, but when it comes to size, the Oasis of the Seas is in a league of its own.

Featuring a length of 1,184′ and a weight of 220,000 tons, the Oasis of the Seas is the world’s largest passenger vessel. It’s able to accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,000 crew members on 16 decks. The floating giant was commissioned by Royal Caribbean International in 2006 and was finalized on October 29, 2009, in a Finnish shipyard.

The Oasis of the Seas left its birthplace and is now on route to Florida, in the USA, where it will receive thousands of exotic plants, before its commercial debut. The plants will decorate one of the ship’s seven neighborhoods, called Central Park. It will feature trees, lawns and flower beds.

Other attractions of the Oasis of the Seas include an ice rink, a water theme-park, a fairground carousel and a giant shopping area. Until next year, when her sister, the Allure of the Seas, will be completed, the Oasis of the Seas is the only ships in its class.

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Witches’ Well – An Estonian Oddity

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Located in Tuhala, northern Estonia, Witches’ Well has fascinated locals and tourists for thousands of years.

Founded around 3,000 years ago, Tuhala host one f the most unique natural phenomena in the world, Witches’ Well. Most of the time the 2.5 meters deep well looks totally normal, but after heavy rains it starts spouting up water and floods the entire area. The local population have been blaming this strange occurrence on witches.  It’s said they gather in a sauna below the ground and beat each other with birch branches causing a commotion on the surface.

Scientists say the bizarre phenomenon occurs when the underground Tuhala River can’t handle the volume of water gathered from rainfalls, but the people of Tuhala don’t want an explanation, they like living in a world surrounded by magic. There are some who claim to have seen burning demons flying over their town, while others still believe in the Estonian God Taara.

Whether you choose to believe that witches are behind the flooding of Witches’ Well, or you believe it’s nothing more than a perfectly explainable natural phenomenon, Witches’ Well remains a must-see attraction of Estonia.

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Djavolja Varos – Devil’s Town in Serbia

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Djavolja Varos is a strange rock formation in south Serbia, created by strong water erosion of the surrounding soil

Djavolja Varos, which means “Devil’s Town” in Serbian, features 202 earth pyramids, each between 2-15 meters high and 4-6 meters wide. Most of these rock towers have an andesit cap that protects them from further erosion. When an earth pyramid protects its protective cap, it is quickly disintegrated by the falling rains, but they form just as quick, because of the heavy water erosion. This is what inspired locals to name this extraordinary site Djavolja Varos, because they believe changes like these happen when demons fight each other for power.

The strange sounds made by the wind in this place are also behind its creepy name. The murmurs, howling and squeaking coming from Djavolja Varos on windy nights have frightened local population for centuries and are at the bottom of their eerie legends.

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