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Angel Oak – The Fairytale Tree

Angel Oak is one of the oldest organisms east of the Mississippi, believed to be over 1,500 years-old.

Before you start with the “It’s photoshoped” comments, check Wikipedia and you’ll see it’s very real. Angel Oak is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Charlestone, South Carolina. It has a height of 20 meters, measures 2.7 meters in diameter and it’s crown shades an area of 1,600 square meters. It’s longest limb stretches out 27 meters.

Its name comes from the Angel estate, but local legends say ghosts of former slaves sometimes appear around the tree, as angels.

Angel Oak has survived countless earthquakes and floods, as well as human interference. It was damaged by Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, but has since then recovered.

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The Plane-Hotel of Costa Rica

If you are afraid of flying, but want to spend a night in an airplane, then travel to Costa Rica and spend a night at the Costa Verde Hotel.

There are a lot of things you can do with an old jumbo-jet, some just cut it to pieces and sell it as scrap-metal, others transform it into a bar and call it El Avion, others make a plane-boat out of it, and others turn it into a airplane-hostel. So a plane-hotel shouldn’t seem that bizarre.

The plane hotel is an old Boeing 707 from 1965 that now has two bedrooms, two bathrooms. a dinningroom, a kitchen and a terrace overlooking the ocean. It’s definitely not your average vacation hotel, but if you’re into trying new things, the Costa Rica plane-hotel is worth $300-$350 per night.

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via Inhabitat

The Stilt Fishermen of Sri Lanka

One of the most iconic scenes your bound to see in Sri Lanka is stilt fishing.

An old tradition around Sri Lanka, stilt fishing had disappeared after the devastating tsunami that hit the country and other parts of the Indian Ocean, but soon the people returned to their customs, and now you can spot them sitting on their uncomfortable stilts, hoping to catch something.

Though they may be beautiful to look at, stilt fishermen have it rough. They spend hours sitting on a thin plank, hoping to catch one or two fish about 5 cm-long, that they sell for about 2 cents each. The rough waves keep the big fish away, so they sometimes have to settle for te smallest catch. But it’s a small price to pay in order to preserve centuries-old traditions.

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The Holy Land Theme-Park

Experience the locations and stories of the Bible, through a visit at the Holy Land Experience.

Sure, it would be fair of me to just  tell you all about this “wonderful place” and let you judge for yourself if it’s the kind of place you want to take your kid, on a family outing. But life isn’t fair so here is what I think: this is the craziest, creepiest theme-park I’ve ever seen photos of.

Granted, I haven’t actually been there (probably never will), but I can tell you it definitely looks like none of the places I’d like to take my children. Sure, the official Holy Land Experience site says it’s an educational, historical, inspirational, theatrical place where adults and children alike can be transported back to the times  and places of the Old Testament, and there are some good things they could learn from seeing something like that. But then we get to these photos…Clearly the torturing of Jesus is no joke, but a blood-covered man carrying a huge cross on his back could have a negative effect on a child brain.

Anyway, people are entitled to their opinions, I’m sure many feel The Holy Land Experience is a great…experience, and that’s ok. Let me know what you think. If you want to form an opinion first-hand, travel to Orlando, Florida and then get back to me.
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The Glass Beach

Nothing more than a garbage dump between 1950 and 1967, California’s Glass Beach is now quite the tourist attraction.

The Glass Beach used to be full of garbage, glass, broken china, rusted junk, all reduced by an ocasional fire or two. Fortunately the people realized the error of their ways and decided to clean up the beach and let nature turn it into the beauty it is today.

The elements did their job, transforming the glass shards into shiny, colorful jewels that you could spend hours collecting. The state bought this beautiful piece of the world in 2003, and now the Glass Beach is a part of MacKerricher State Park.

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via Los Angeles Times

photos by Christopher Reynolds

Kandovan – The Stone Village

Kandovan (Candovan) is a tourist village located near the city of Tabriz, in Iran. Its name is the plural of “kando”whiche means bees nest.

Legend says the first inhabitants of Kandovan moved here to escape from the invading mongols, They dug hideouts in the volcanic rock and ultimately ended up transforming them into permanent houses. It is now one of Iran‘s most popular tourist destinations and the rock-houses rival the famous Cappadocia Hotel.

The main occupations of Kandovan‘s inhabitants are agriculture and animal raising.

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Tough Guy Race 2009

Known as the toughest competition in the world, the Tough Guy Race asked its question again in 2009, “Are you strong enough?”

More than 5,000 people gathered at the start line of the Tough Guy Race this year, only to face the torture of a 13 km endurance course, designed by a former Grenadier Guardsman named Billy Wilson, in 1986. Competitors had to run and crawl through mud and flames, while dodging smoke bombs, barbed wire and electric charges.

The Tough Guy course is so dangerous the competitors had to sign a disclaimer saying “It’s my own bloody fault for being here”. Accordingto the official site of the Tough Guy Race, there were many broken arms and legs tis year, but luckily no one lost their lives.

This year’s competition looks even worse than Tough Guy Race 2008.

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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(Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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(REUTERS/Kieran Doherty)

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(Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Japan’s Ice Hotel

Japan opens ice hotel, tourists rush to book rooms.

Following the model of norththern-European countries like Sweden, Japan opened an ice hotel in Alpha Resort Tomamu’s ice village, on Hokkaido Island. The living-rooms, bath-rooms and bed-rooms are all made out of ice, and it costs two people 80,000 yen ($696) to spend the night.

Dinner is served on an ice plate while drinks come in ice glasses, so you have to sip them quickly, before they freeze.

Japan’s ice hotel is not for everyone of course, if you can’t handle the cold, you better not pack your bags just yet. Guests sleep dressed appropriately , in layers and thick winter jackets. If you think you can handle freezing cold, the hotel closes on February 15, so hurry up.

The ice hotel of Hokkaido looks good but it still doesn’t come close to Sweden’s ice hotel.

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Photo credits: Xinhua/Reuters

Neuburg Ice Swimming 2009

The traditional Neuburg Ice Swimming event is considered the biggest swimming event in Europe.

This year over 2,000 brave swimmers from all over Germany gathered in Neuburg an der Donau for the 40th anniversary of the event. Neuburg Ice Swimming 2009 took place on January 31. Europe’s biggest swimming extravaganza featured swimmers desguised as sea-gods, frogs, clowns and other crazy things, and funny messages referring to new US President Barack Obama and the international financial crysis.

As you can see from the photos, Neuburg an der Donau hosted quite a fun event this year.Seems like a breeze compared to the ice swimming in Russia

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Photo credits: Johannes Simon (Getty Images)

World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain

The chocolate fountain at the Bellagio, in Las Vegas is simply delicious.

Rising 27 feet above ground, and touching the ceiling, the chocolate funtain in Jean Philippe Patisserie displays a spectacular series of small chocolate waterfalls, filled with white, dark and milk chocolate.

Over 2,100 punds of tasty melted chocolate circulate through this wonder of engineering, at a rate of 120 quats per minute. Designed by award-winning pastry cheff Jean Philippe Maury, the chocolate fountain of the Bellagio took a year and a half in planning and design alone.

Sadly the whole fountain is enclosed by a glass wall, so no, you can’t dip your finger in it for a taste. Maury says the glass maximizes the color of the three types of flowing chocolate.

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Grafitti-Covered Kelburn Castle

One of the oldest castles in Scotland, Kelburn is now also one of the most modern.

Kelburn castle was built in the 13th century, remodelled in the 16th century, and opened to the public, as a country park, in 1977. It’s one of many beautiful castles in Britain, but Kelburn stands out through its bizarre, grafitti-covered exterior. In 2007, after experts told him the outer facing would have to be replaced in order to prevent further damage to the castle walls, the Earl of Scotland invited grafitti artists to prove their skills on the walls.

The grafitti-painted walls of Kelburn Castle will be reconditioned in 2009 at the earliest, so you still have time to admire one of the most unusual-looking medieval castles in the world.

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Photos via Hohota.net

El Caminito del Rey

Often shortened to El Camino del Rey, this dangerous walkway has claimed many lives in recent years.

El Caminito del Rey was built in 1901 as a connection between the power plants of Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls. It took four years to finish and in 1905 Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, crossed the walkway for the inauguration, thus giving it its name, The King’s Walkway.

Built along the steep walls of a narrow gorge, in the Malaga region, El Caminito del Rey has deteriorated severely in the last years and after four people died crossing it, in 1999 and 2000, the authorities decided to close it off to tourists. It’s only 1 meter wide and it stands 300 meters above the river floating in the area. Onlly a small part of the walkway has handrails and much of the concrete  walkway has collapsed, leaving only the steel beam that originally held it up.

Despite the efforts to keep tourists away from El Caminito del Rey, many still sneak past security in search of adrenalin-induced thrills. In 2006, the regional government of Andalusia approved a restoration plan of 7 million euro.

Watch video at the bottom

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Sleeping in a Barrel

Sleeping in a wine-barrel without getting drunk is bvery possible at a lovely, little hotel in the Netherlands.

De Vrouwe van Stavoren is probably the only hotel in the world that offers accomodation in real wine barrels. They are indeed genuine 15,000 liters Swiss wine barrels converted into small luxury rooms. Every room is equipped with a television-set, radio, shower and toilet, so you pretty much have everything you need.

The one thing that might bother you, if you’re not a wine enthusiast, is the smell of wine that the barrels still maintain. All in all the Barrel Hotel, in Stavoren, northern Netherlands, makes for a very pleasurable experience.

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The Jumbo Jet Hostel

Starting this January, the Arlanda Airport, in Stockholm, Sweden, has become home to the world’s first plane-hotel.

The idea of creating a hotel in an old 747 jumbo-jet belongs to Oscar Dios, a 36-years-old businessman that hopes the outrageous location will draw in lots of clients. The plane had been abandoned for six years, after flying for Singapore Airlines, PanAm and the Swedish leasing company Transjet, ever since 1976.

Since it was taking up a lot of space, something had to be done about it, so Dios’ idea was accepted immediately. The Jumbo Hostel can accomodate 74 people, at the moment, in 25 simple, 70’s style rooms. The jet’s upper deck has been transformed into a conference hall, while the cockpit has been converted into a wedding chappel.

The Jumbo Hostel already has 200 reservations.

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The Salt Hotel of Bolivia

Built on the vast salt desert of Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia, the Salt Hotel has become a popular tourist attraction.

The Salt Hotel of Salar de Uyuni is sort of similar to the Ice Hotel of Sweden, only it’s never in any danger of melting. The Salt Hotel is built out of salt blocks carved from the white, salty lake surrounding it. The only things that aren’t made of salt are the tin roof covered by straw, the pool table, the lighting devices and, of course, the toilets.

The Salt Hotel was first inhabited by the salt-miners of Salar de Uyuni, but now it has been reconditioned as a tourist attraction and a salt pool has been built.

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