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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Dongzhong – China’s Cave School

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There’s no questioning China’s economic boom, but although more and more impressive buildings are being constructed every day, there are some areas that don’t even have a proper school.

Dongzhong (literally translated as “in cave”) is a elementary school located in Miao village, China’s Guizhou province. The strange thing about this learning institution is that it’s housed by a giant cave, carved inside a mountain over thousands of years, by wind, rain and earthquakes. There is a small structure put together by the locals, but children attend classes protected only by the cold walls of the cave.

Photos were taken in November, 2007, but the school is till around today.

Photos by Reuters

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Minister’s House – The World’s Biggest Treehouse

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I’ve seen some pretty bizarre-but-impressive treehouses in my day, but the Minister’s House is by far the most impressive, if only through its sheer size.

Located in Crossville, Tennessee, the Minister’s House took Horace Burgess 14 years to build around an 80-foot-tall white oak tree, with a diameter of 12 feet. The wooden edifice itself is 97-feet-tall and it’s supported by six other strong trees that act like natural pillars.

Burgess says he started working on this giant treehouse after he had a vision back in 1993. God spoke to him and said: “If you build me a

treehouse, I’ll see you never run out of material.” And so he spent the next 14 years building God’s treehouse, using only salvaged materials, like pieces of lumber from garages, storage sheds and barns. So, as far as Horace is concerned, God did provide him with all the materials he needed.
Although he never bothered to measure Minister’s House (he estimates it must be about 8,000 to 10,000 square feet), he did count the nails he had to hammer into it, 258,000. It cost the 56-year-old landscape architect around $12,000 to construct the world’s biggest treehouse.

400-500 people visit Minister’s House every week, most of them tourists from out of state who heard about a 10-story-treehouse somewhere in Tennessee.

I found the photos on this obscure Hungarian site, but I doubt they actually own them. If you know who these belong to, let me know so I can credit them.

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White House Replica for Sale

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Forced by the downfall of the American housing market, Fred Milani had to put his backyard replica of the White House up for sale, for just $10 million.

American Iranian property developer, Fred Milani, says he doesn’t really want to sell his beloved replica of the iconic White House, but he has to. The mini-house is built in the backyard of his Atlanta residence and comes complete with its very own Oval Office and Lincoln Bedroom, as well as a backdoor pool.

If you’re expecting an interesting story about how Mr. Milani decided to have the White House replica built in his backyard, you’re in for a big disappointment. He just wanted a house and the architect just asked him “How about I build you the White House?”, he agreed and the rest is history.

The 16,500 square meter building was built seven years ago and has managed to split the neighborhood. There are those who feel lucky to be living next to such an impressive edifice, but most find it excessive and are annoyed by the high number of tourists flocking to their peaceful neighborhood to take pictures of the White House replica.

via Daily Mail

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The Happiest House on Earth

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Who doesn’t want to live in a happy house, right? I bet that’s what designer James Rizzi thought to himself when he designed the Happy Rizzi House, inBraunschweig, Germany.

What is it with Germans and wacky-looking houses? After the famous Waldspirale of Darmstadt, I’ve discovered the Happy Rizzi House, where pop-art ant cartoons mix to form a very unique architectural design. Built by architect Konrad Kloster, Happy Rizzi House is one of the most important monuments in Braunschweig.

Located on the ruins of a ducal palace, Happy Rizzi House is a big hit with both children and adults.

via decojournal

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The Mysterious Leh Magnetic Hill

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Nestled between the Great Himalayas and Karakoramh mountains, Leh Magnetic Hill apparently has magnetic properties capable of pulling vehicles uphill.

Located just 30 km from the city of Leh, the Magnetic Hill is quite a popular tourist attraction in India. Travelers from all over the world are drawn here by its mysterious magnetic powers. There is a marked line on the road going up the hill, where drivers are instructed to put their cars in neutral and sit back as they get pulled up at speeds over 20 km/h.

Stories say the magnetic energy is so powerful that aircrafts have to fly at a higher altitude to avoid interference. But, in reality, there is no magnetism or mystical power involved, just an optical illusion created by the layout of the surroundings. A slightly downhill slope appears to go uphill and while the car naturally roles downwards, the landscape makes it look like it’s actually climbing.

Even though it’s just nature playing a trick on us mere mortals, it’s still an amazing experience, worth trying. Check out the video at the bottom to see the Leh Magnetic Hill in action.

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The Incredible Taung Kalat Monastery

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Built atop an extinct volcano plug, the Buddhist monastery of Taung Kalat is one of the most breathtaking sites in Burma and the world.

Many people call the hill on which the monastery was built, Mount Popa, but they’re mistaking it with the much higher volcano, close by. The hill is called Taung Kalat and though it looks like a mere bump when compared to Mount Popa, climbing it is quite a task. There are seven hundred seventy seven steps to from the bottom, all the way to the Buddhist monastery.

The locals believe Nats (37 demigod-like beings) live inside Taung Kalat hill and judging by the heavenly views from up there, they just might be right.

Climbing up Taung Kalat, you’re bound to run into some adorable Macaques, but be careful, they’re wild creatures and are likely to snatch anything you lay on the ground, before you even have the chance to blink.

Taung Kalat Monastery and its surroundings are truly unique, but unless the Burmese government intervenes soon, they will degrade beyond recovery.

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The Amazing Seashell Temple in Taiwan

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In the hills near San Chih, northern Taiwan, lies the Seashell Temple, one of the most amazing architectural works in the world.

I’m sure many of you have seen photos of it before, it’s almost on every spam photo site on the internet, sometimes listed as being in Bagkok or Taiwan, but I thought it deserved a spot among the oddities on Oddity Central.Almost completely covered with seashells and pieces of coral, Pei Khe Miao (as its known by the Chinese) takes your breath away the minute you lay eyes on it.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of genuine information concerning the Seashell Temple and I don’t want to make stuff up, so for now you’ll just have to settle for some photos and a video.

Photos via Awesome Asia

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The Buffalo Fighting Festival of Do Son

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The Buffalo Fighting Festival is held annually, on the northern coast of Vietnam and draws huge crowds, eager to see a display of violence.

Buffalo owners train the peaceful creatures and even pray on the night before the festival, to ensure their beast is victorious. To the crowd’s disappointment the animals often do nothing more than look at each other and go about their business. On rare  occasions they cros their scythe like horns and push each other like sumo wrestlers.

The victorious buffalo is cheered by thousands of people, while its owner displays it for all to see and collects a prize of 40 million dong. But the winner has little time to enjoy his success, as both buffalos are sacrificed and their meat offered to the spectators. The owners are allowed to take a keepsake, like the animal’s head.

Photos by AFP/GETTY IMAGES

via Telegraph.co.uk

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Molossia – World’s Smallest Sovereign Republic

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If you thought nations like Luxembourg, Monaco or Lichtenstein were small, wait until you learn about the microscopic republic of Molossia.

It may have a surface of just half a hectare and look like any normal house hold in the American desert, but Molossia is a real country, with a leader and everything. The smallest country in the world is located near Dayton, Nevada and has been ruled for over 30 years, by President Kevin Baugh. But his great nation ( 2 sons and 3 dogs) has yet to file a complaint.

Molossia is the world’s smallest republic, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have laws. If you set foot on Molossian soil, you have to have your passport approved and stamped. The microscopic nation even has its own postal service, currency (made from poker chips), bottled water and the national dish is raw cookie dough.

Unlike other countries, Molossia has a simple, but well developed health-care system: every citizen can just go to the first-aid box and get whatever they need, for free.

Kevin Baugh, together with a friend came up with the idea of establishing their own micronation when they were teenagers, after watching The Mouse that Roared. Throughout the years Baugh even took his country to a “tongue-in-cheek” war with the neighboring microstate Mustachian, ruled by Sultan Ali-Ali Achsenfree, and won.

Molossia doesn’t pay American taxes and even wants to develop its own electric system to be even more independent.

Photos by CHRIS LOBINA/ REX FEATURES

via Telegraph.co.uk

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Berkeley Pit – A Toxic Tourist Attraction

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That’s right, Berkeley Pit is one of the few places in the world where you have to pay to look at a giant pool of toxic waste.

Located in Butte, Montana, Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mind turned weird tourist attraction. It’s one mile long over half a mile wide and 1780 feet deep, 900 of which are full of extremely toxic water. On the surface, the poison looks a lot like blood and is so saturated with copper, miners were able to harvest the metal directly from the water. From 13 million gallons of water, 400,000 pounds of copper were produced.

The acidic water includes chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, zinc or sulfuric acid and, if you were to drink some, it would corrode through your digestive system before getting a chance to poison you. In 1995 a flock of migrating geese landed on Berkeley Pit and never took flight again. A total of 342 carcasses were recovered. Since the incident a bird watch program was implemented.

But, interestingly enough, good things can come out of toxic waste. Scientists have discovered new types of bacteria that have adapted to the harsh conditions of Berkeley Pit, by producing highly toxic compounds that improve survivability. These chemicals have proven very resilient to cancer and further research is currently ongoing.

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The Ideal Palace

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Le Palais Ideal is one of the most popular examples of naive art architecture, built by Ferdinand Cheval, a French Postman, over a period of 33 years.

Cheval began building his Ideal Palace in April 1879. While he was on the job, the postman tripped over a stone and was impressed by its unusual shape. Inspired by the stone, he returned the following day and started gathering more rocks and putting them in his pockets. Over time he began carrying them in baskets and then, in a wheelbarrow.

With no architectural skills whatsoever, Ferdinand Cheval managed to build his Ideal Palace, combining several styles and using the Bible and Hingu mythology as inspiration. He spent 20 years on the outer walls alone, binding the stones together with lime, mortar and cement and decorating them with all sorts of chapel and temple models.

Cheval wanted to be buried in his Palais Ideal, but French law didn’t allow it. So he spent the last years of his life building himself an intricate mausoleum, in the cemetery of Hauterives. His palace was recognized as a masterpiece and is now a cultural landmark and one of France’s popular tourist attractions.

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The Marble Caves of Rio Tranquilo

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Located in the Coyhaique province, Chile, the Marble Caves are some of the most impressive attractions of Patagonia.

Las Cavernas de Marmol, as the Spanish call them were created by the clear waters of Rio Tranquilo that dug into a giant limestone peninsula, creating an impressive labyrinth of caves. The peninsula is known as the Marble Cathedral and can be reached by boat, during a guided tour.

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