Build It and They Won’t Come – World’s Largest Shopping Mall Is 99% Empty

The New South China Mall in Dongguan, China is the biggest in the world. With an area of over 7 million square feet that can accommodate 2,350 stores, and attractions such as roller coasters, ghost trains and a replica of the bell tower of St Mark’s Square in Venice, you would think the place would be swarming with people. So did the owners of the mall, who expected over 70,000 visitors a day when they started building it. But today it stands empty, with almost no customers entering its gates. The 553 meter indoor and outdoor roller coaster hasn’t been operated since it was installed and 99% of the shops have never been leased out. The only ones that do operate are a series of fast food joints at the entrance of the mall and another few shops inside the huge complex.

New South China Mall was built in 2005 by Hu Guirong, who made his millions making instant noodles. He started the project with great enthusiasm, sending teams all over the world in search of ideas for his dream mall. And most of these ideas were even translated into reality. Where else in the world would be able to see a gondola on a mock Venetian canal inside a mall? But then something went horribly wrong, because when the place was completed in 2005, it simply failed to take off. It wasn’t even a dead mall, where tenants simply depart and business winds down slowly. No, Guirong’s mall never attracted merchants in the first place, as they felt it wasn’t a realistic place to set up shop.

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Size Doesn’t Matter – Man Builds $200 Tiny Eco-Homes from Ordinary Household Junk

A tiny house doesn’t necessarily have to be shabby. And a stylish one doesn’t really have to cost a lot of money. Proving these points is carpenter Derek Diedricksen, who makes small wooden dwellings out of junk at $200 apiece. They look nothing like junk, though. The decorative detailing in these houses make them pretty interesting places to live in.

The largest structure made by 33-year-old Derek is Gypsy Junker – 24 square feet in size and 5ft 10 inches high. The smallest one is just 4ft tall. But then the interiors of these houses are so pretty that anyone would be interested to spend at least one night in them. Everyday junk is used in the building process, like the glass from the front of a washing machine that becomes a porthole-like window and a sheet of metal is used as a flipdown counter. Castoff storm windows, shipping pallets and discarded cabinets are used as well. Stained glass windows and the likes are used for that decorative touch. Some of the houses built by Derek are also portable, ranging from 4 to 24 square feet in size.

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Sarajevo Roses – Painful War Memories Etched in Asphalt

They sound like something beautiful, and they are quite nice to look at, but as soon as you learn the story of the Sarajevo Roses, you realize they are really the legacy of a truly tragic event, the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

Between 1992 and 1996, Bosnian Serb Forces bombarded the city of Sarajevo in what is remembered as the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. As you can imagine this kind of event leaves serious scars both in the hearts of those affected and on the city’s infrastructure. A Sarajevo Rose is a concrete scar made by a mortar shell explosion that was later painted with red resin as a memorial to those who were killed during the Siege of Sarajevo. It seems unnatural to compare the mark of a mortar explosion to the beauty of a rose, but the unique fragmentation pattern of a mortar round hitting concrete does indeed have a floral look. Still, while roses are a symbol of love and beauty, Sarajevo Roses represent a collective memory of the physical scars of war.

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World’s Quietest Place Lets You Hear Your Internal Organs

The mad and hectic pace of life, sometimes makes us all crave some peace and quiet. But then, as they say, too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. That applies to silence, as it turns out people can’t stand to be in the world’s quietest place for too long. The longest a person has lasted in there is 45 minutes.

The place I’m talking about is a room at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis. The room, also known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, is 99.99% sound absorbent. The double-insulated walls are made of steel and foot-thick concrete. Along the walls are also 3.3-foot thick fiberglass acoustic wedges that contribute to the ultra-quietness. The room holds the current Guinness World Record for being the quietest place on Earth. While it does seem like a dream come true, especially for those who live with kids or have stressful jobs, it’s actually not all that great. The room gets so silent that you can actually hear your internal organs at work. And after a while, the hallucinations begin.

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Can’t Get a Girl? Website Lets Guys Hire Fake Girlfriends for $5

GirlfriendHire.com is a new website where you can hire a girl to do ‘girlfriend-type’ things for you at a cost of just $5. Now before you get your hopes up, there are no ‘dirty’ services available. The website targets tweens and teens, so typical girlfriend activities would include doing your homework, flirting on Facebook, sending naughty texts and making your friends jealous. According to the website, it is “the first place on the internet dedicated to connecting guys and girls, to help guys breakup with their girlfriends, prank their friends, get their ex-gfs back, create a fake breakup message and even hire a girl to do your homework.”

Hiring girls to do fake relationship stuff does sound kind of sad, but there’s no dearth of boys willing to shell out the 5 bucks. Plus, girls get to make some quick money and no one’s really hurt in the process. I checked out the website and there’s a list of girls offering various services, called ‘flings’, ranging from, “I will text you anything for $5” to “I will give relationship advice for $5”. The most popular of them all is, “I will be your Facebook friend for $5”. Isn’t that cool, to be able to make money out of your Facebook friends list? Boys can put up ‘fling’ requests too and these tend to be creative like, “Make a video summarizing Battlestar Gallactica in a skirt or bikini” and “Put 15 tootsie roll pops in your mouth singing the alphabet backward in a bikini”. And there are the more desperate ones with “Send me a fake message on Facebook telling how much fun you had last night”.

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Chinese Millionaire Becomes Miner to Stop Gambling

Addictions are a life-long struggle for most people. There are very few who manage to successfully kick self-destructive habits for good. 39-year-old Chinese millionaire, Qijang Zhang Yongqiang, is one such person. He was able to get rid of his gambling addiction by taking up a unique hobby – mining.

Zhang is the owner of a couple of supermarkets and a few other properties in China. As a rich person, he had taken to gambling and soon got addicted to it, losing up to 80,000 Yuan ($12,700) on some nights. On one such night, after losing a huge amount of money, he realized that he needed to do something to save himself from destruction. So in 2008, the millionaire decided to put gambling behind him, and took up a job as a miner. Initially, he did it just to keep away from the nasty habit, but soon he fell so much in love with the work that it became his full-time job. His wife and parents are quite supportive and help by operating the supermarkets while he is at work.

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5 Real-Life Dolls Who Have Achieved Internet Fame

Dolls hold a strange power of attraction over little girls. I suppose it is normal, but is it really if the attraction turns into an unhealthy obsession as they grow older? Some grown-up girls seem to be so infatuated with dolls that they want to look exactly like their plastic playmates. And a handful of them actually manage to achieve these looks.

Here we have a story of five girls who have achieved huge fame on the internet by looking exactly like dolls. We’re not sure if it is because of makeup, Photoshop, plastic surgery, natural beauty, or a combination of all four. All we know is that looks don’t get a lot more doll-like than this. I don’t know if you could categorize these looks as innocent or plain creepy. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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Tuvan Throat Singing – A Unique Mongolian Tradition

As with any other piece of music, it is quite impossible to describe through words what exactly Tuvan throat singing is. I could try to explain to you the physics of how it is done, but then you could always get that information from Wikipedia. I could try to explain what it sounds like, but then you could just listen to it on YouTube. Oh, and while you are on YouTube, please don’t go by Sheldon Cooper’s version of it from The Big Bang Theory. It is funny, but it is in no way the real thing.

Tuvan music is at best described as a variant of overtone singing. Its beauty lies in its traditional, rustic melody and it exudes an old-world charm. That’s not surprising, given the fact that this form of music dates very far back in history. A music that came into being purely out of culture and geographic location, the ancient Tuvans used to look for specific spots to practice it. Given the open landscape of Tuva, sounds are carried a great distance. Singers often travel far into the countryside, in search of the right river or mountainside for the environment that throat singing requires. Sounds like a beautiful way to blend music and nature.

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Famadihana – Dancing with the Dead in Madagascar

The people of Madagascar have a unique ritual to celebrate family ties called Famadihana, also known as ‘turning of the bones’. It is a festival celebrated every 7 years or so, during which family crypts are opened up and the remains of dead ancestors are brought out to be wrapped in a new cloth. The Malagasy then dance with the corpses in great joy. Live music is played, animals are sacrificed and the meat is distributed to various guests and members of the family. The elders explain to their children the importance of the dead who are lying before them. Famadihana is viewed as a day to show your family just how much you love them. Extended families get together and celebrate kinship.

According to Malagasy belief, people are not made from mud, but from the bodies of the ancestors. Hence they hold their forefathers in high regard. They also believe that unless the bodies decompose completely, the dead do not leave permanently and are able to communicate with the living. So until they are gone forever, love and affection is showered on them through the Famadihana festival. It is interesting to note that the festival is not an ancient practice of Madagascar. Its origins cannot be traced beyond the seventeenth century.

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The Mind-Blowingly Realistic Wine Paintings of Thomas Arvid

If you’ve been hanging around Oddity Central for a while, you probably know I have a thing for hyperrealism. I find it amazing how some artists can simply guide a paintbrush to create photograph-like artworks that almost always fool the naked eye.

Case in point, Thomas Arvid, a self-taught painter who creates wine-related paintings that look like professional high-resolution photos. In the past, we’ve featured amazing works by talented artists the likes of Alyssa Monks or Denis Peterson, but Arvid’s creations really are unlike any I’ve ever seen. His incredibly realistic compositions of wine completely redefine still life and put the Marietta-based artist at the forefront of the hyperrealist art movement. Thomas’ mastery of light, depth and reflection, as well as his ability to capture a traditional subject like wine in a completely new style have brought him international acclaim.

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Maquech Beetles – Mexico’s Controversial Living Breathing Jewelry

The Maquech Beetle can make any nature lover or animal rights activist scream in horror. Entomophobics (creepy-crawly-haters) would probably run as far away as possible from this kind of jewelry, and for good reason, as every Maquech is actually a live bejeweled insect. As hard as it may be to even conceive wearing bugs as accessories, they are something of a fashion statement in Mexico.

I kid you not, just watching a video of the Maquech brooch is giving me the jitters. I don’t get how people can stand it on their bodies, but jewelry enthusiasts in Mexico have been flocking at stores to buy these ‘pet-cessories’ since the 1980s. The brooch is actually a part of a centuries-old Mayan tradition of decorating wingless beetles from the Yucatan Peninsula. Gemstones and gold are glued on the beetle’s body which sounds like a cruel process which has been denounced by animal activists in the past. The insects themselves are pretty harmless and docile, quite perfect to play the part of living jewelry. Each one has a decorative safety pin attached to it with a 2-inch-long chain leash. When pinned to clothing, the beetles can wander around, but can never get away.

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Croatian Woman Creates Popular Made-to-Measure Penis Warmers

If we can have warm clothing for our heads, hands and feet, why leave out male genitalia? That’s exactly the attitude of the Croats, who used hand-knitted woolen penis warmers in the past. The centuries-old tradition has now been revived by a 55-year-old Croatian woman, Radmilla Kus. An avid knitter, she started off by making slippers for tourists, but her ‘willy warmers’ have turned out to be far more popular. When the orders started pouring in she just couldn’t keep up with them, so she had to hire a small army of knitters. Radmilla also conducts 90-minute courses, showing participants how to make the warmers

Winters in Croatia’s mountains are so severe that frost-bite was a serious problem for men in the past, especially during long horse rides. So to avoid permanent damage to their genitals, the warmers, called “Nakurnjak” came into use. They were more popular in the Mrkopalj mountain region of Croatia, where wives would knit penis warmers for their husbands. According to Radmilla, “Wives believed that keeping their man’s private parts warm allowed him to remain fertile and increased their chance of having children.” It’s funny, because in hotter countries such as where I come from, men are advised to keep their genitals cool to improve fertility!

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Woman Marries Herself to Prove She Doesn’t Need a Husband to Be Happy

36-year-old Nadine Schweigert from Fargo, North Dakota, got married last month. She had a beautiful wedding. Nadine was dressed in a peacock blue satin dress and carried a bouquet of white roses. There was also a lovely white wedding cake covered in peacock blue fondant. So far, there seems to be nothing unusual about this affair; it’s not different from any other run-of-the-mill wedding in the US. But if you paid attention, you probably noticed there was no mention of a groom. It’s not that he didn’t show up, it’s just that there wasn’t a groom to begin with. Nadine just happened to marry herself.

Self-marriage can be a confusing concept to those who don’t know what it’s all about. Nadine isn’t alone, however, many others have done it before. It was even portrayed on the popular TV show Glee, where ‘Sue Sylvester’ ties the knot with herself. These ceremonies are considered secular and purely symbolic. New Age websites such as Encouraging Priestess even share ideas on how to perform self-marriage ceremonies. The idea behind these marriages is to help a person realize that they do not need anybody else to feel complete.

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Artist Turns Confiscated Scissors into Creepy Spider Sculptures

Every year, the Transportation Security Administration confiscates countless objects deemed dangerous from passengers boarding flights at airport terminals across the US. Apart from guns, knives or aerosol, a lot of scissors end up in their recycling bin. Enter Christopher Locke, an artist who figured out he could actually use scissors to create creepy sculptures of spiders.

It’s a known fact that spiders don’t have many human fans. Most people just think they look creepy and would simply squish them given the opportunity, even if they don’t pose a real threat. But, that’s not really a viable option when talking about the scissors spiders of Christopher Locke. You’d have a hard time stomping on one of them without having your foot pierced by sharp metal, so you just kind of have to accept them. Reminiscent of a classic Tim Burton movie, these metal sculptures are created from disassembled scissors, bent into shape and welded together in the creepy shape of spiders.

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Lunch Beat – Sweden’s Unusual Lunch Break Dance Parties

The time just after lunch hour is perhaps the sleepiest in a typical workday. Over the years, people have come up with very creative solutions to keep themselves awake and in a working mood, but nothing can beat Sweden’s Lunch Beat, a truly original way to spend lunch hour.

Dancing in a club, at noon probably doesn’t seem like the perfect way to spend your lunch break, but it’s exactly what more and more Swedes are doing to re-energize themselves. They just groove to the music for about an hour and then get back to work. The first Lunch Beat was organized in an underground parking lot in Stockholm, in June 2010. Only 14 people attended that first event, but it was so much fun that the word spread pretty quickly. Today, hundreds attend the monthly Lunch Beats organized in the Swedish capital. The phenomenon is slowly spreading to other Swedish and European cities as well.

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