China Showcases the World’s Largest Luminous Pearl

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A mystery to the western world, luminous pearls are legendary in China, and people go to great lengths for a chance to even touch one of them. The largest luminous pearl has just been placed on display, in China’s Hainan province.

Very little is known about the giant green pearls of China. The few who actually have heard of these remarkable jewels refer to them as “Yemengzhu” and praise them to be rarities that bring good luck. They have been a part of Chinese legends for centuries, and people there believe that just touching them can bring great fortune and prosperity. But this kind of myths are all to common in a traditional country like China, and what makes Yemengzhu special has little to do with local lore.

Luminous pearls are wonders of the mineral world that shine in the dark without the help of ultraviolet light. This kind of Fluorite is so rare that western geology don’t even recognize its existence, and the Chinese only discovered the first one in 1982, at a Tungsten mine, in Guangdong. Since then, bigger and bigger deposits were discovered, and the largest one yet weighs 6 tons and is 1.6 meters in diameter. When it was discovered, it had an irregular shape, but was ground in the form of a sphere. The process took three years to complete, because of its tough nature, comparable to the finest grade of diamonds.

The largest luminous pearl is currently exhibited in Wenchang, China’s Hainan province, and has been appraised at 2.2 billion yuan ($331 million).

 

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Just What the World Needed – Hello Kitty Theme park Opens in Tokyo

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As if the world didn’t have enough of their annoying icon, Hello Kitty, the Japanese thought they’d open a new theme park as well.

If you’re a regular visitor of Oddity Central, you probably already know I’m not the world’s biggest Hello Kitty fan. I’ve featured quite a few strange Hello Kitty stuff, from a pink assault rifle to a Hello Kitty-themed Ferrari. Now, it brings me great…honor to present to you Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise, a Hello Kitty theme park that just opened in Tokyo.

I guess the Japanese didn’t want to look bad, after their Chinese neighbors built a Hello Kitty castle, and a nice new pink theme park was just the thing. Located on Odaiba Island, Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise opened on October 22nd, and hopes to attract as many as 700,000 Hello Kitty fans in its first year. While the despicable icon has tons of fans in Japan’s capital, not many of them bothered to check out the theme park, probably because Odaiba is quite a long way from central Tokyo, and many of them don’t care to make the long trip. Let’s just hope the place stays empty and they’ll be forced to close it down soon, because unless you’re the Pink Lady, human eyesight just can’t handle all that pink.

In case you’re interested, the 10,000 square-foot park features a big Hello Kitty shop, where you can find all kinds of accessories, toys and other pink junk, a Hello Kitty pancake restaurant, a small theater, a big statue of Hello Kitty and a whole bunch of other pink, girly stuff fans go crazy about.

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Prince Saint Vladimir – The World’s First and Only Chapel Boat

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The Prince Saint Vladimir is basically an old boat converted into a floating church that could make the sacred relics on board accessible to people in remote areas along the Volga River.

This isn’t the world’s first floating church, communities living on water have built plenty of them all around the world, but the Prince Saint Vladimir (named after the saint who baptized Russia) is the world’s first self-propelled chapel boat. Built back in 2004, the unique church was designed to reach even the shallowest waters, so that all the people of the Volvograd region could have access to a church and priest. There were two other similar churches built before, but because they were practically converted barges, they could only be moved by tugboats. The Prince Saint Vladimir is, however, a self-propelled craft.

On September 13, 2010, the great river voyage of the Prince Saint Vladimir began. The floating church will travel around 3,000 kilometers along the shores of the Volga, from the river mouth, all the way to Moscow. It will make stops in both cities and small communities along the shores, allowing people access to relics of eight great saints from the era of the Undivided Church. Its voyage will take the sacred ship to areas that have suffered from drought and terrible wildfires, and the Russian Church hopes it will bring comfort to locals.

Along with the captain and ship crew, a priest will be on board the Prince Saint Vladimir at all times, and he will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy at every stop.

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T’Spookhuys – Probably the World’s Spookiest Restaurant

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Known also as the “House of 1,000 Ghosts”, the T’Spookhuys Restaurant was designed to scare the hell out of its customers, with a truly creepy interior design and bizarre menu.

Located in the city of Turnhout, Belgium, T’Spookhuys was founded by Karl Hendrix and Bjorn Leys, as a place where people could experience the horrors of a haunted mansion. When it opened its gates to the public, on October 1st 1997, it shocked pretty much everyone with its creepy interior decorations, squeaky doors, smoke coming down from the ceiling, moving paintings, and other special effects. Soon everyone wanted to “dine in hell” and witness the weird spectacles and cameos that took part at the T’Spookhuys Restaurant.

Some of the foods on the menu included mud pie and spicy worms served in skull-shaped bowls, by waiters dressed as vampires and devil worshipers, but instead of driving people away, this incredibly spooky atmosphere brought in more curious clients. Not even the rumors about satanic rituals being performed on the restaurant’s upper floor didn’t scare anyone.

In 2008, eleven years after they opened this crazy establishment, the owners of T’Spookhuys decided to close down the place and open a whole new club, in the city of Zandhoven. To the joy of urban explorers, T’Spookhuys was left intact, allowing them to explore and take photos of what used to be probably the spookiest restaurant in the world. As you’d expect, there are dozens of stories of ghost and tormented spirits living in the abandoned restaurant, saying that they are the real reason the owners decided to close shop and move away, but no ghost sightings have been reported yet.

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5Pointz Aerosol Art Center – The World’s Premiere Graffiti Mecca

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5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is an outdoor art exhibit space where graffiti artists can exercise their artistic talent, legally. Dubbed a “an institution of higher burnin’ “, 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is viewed as the Mecca of the graffiti art world.

If you’re interested in discovering one of New York’s off-the-beaten-track attractions, 5Pointz should definitely be at the top of your priorities. An old factory converted into an outdoor graffiti museum, the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center features 200,000 square-feet of art covered space that will probably blow your mind. Practically every square inch of this once bustling industrial complex has been covered with colorful layers of graffiti paint, depicting everything from peace messages written in WildStyle to portraits of The Notorious B.I.G.

Provided they receive the approval of Jonathan Cohen, the curator of 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, any artist from around the world can leave their mark on the largest graffiti art exhibit in the world. Artists from Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands have contributed to the space, and if you visit here on weekends, between noon and 7 pm, you’re likely to catch graffiti artists at work.

So if you happen to be in New York, head to Long Island City and visit 5Pointz. It’s always free, it’s always open, and it’s always has some new art exhibits for you to discover.

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Excalibur – The World’s Tallest Free-Standing Climbing Wall

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At 37 meters tall, the Excalibur Tower is the tallest free-standing climbing wall in the world. A part of the Bjoeks climbing center, in the Dutch city of Groningen, Excalibur is the tallest thing for miles, offering a memorable panorama to climbers who manage to reach the top.

You’ll probably find considerably higher climbing walls set up on the side of buildings, bridges and dams, but as far as free-standing climbing walls go, Excalibur is the tallest, beating the Texas Stone Works wall by just a few inches. The 37-meter-high tower has an overhang of 36 feet, and is ideal for both beginner climbers and experts who will find themselves literally hanging in the air, due to the tower’s curvy shape.

According to both creators of the tower and climbers who have actually made it all the way to the top, the views from up there can prove a bit too much intimidating, considering the Netherlands aren’t known for their mountainous landscape, which makes the Excalibur the tallest thing as far as the eye can see.

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Korean Chick Is World’s Biggest Chocolate Addict

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Kim Do-yeon, a 21-year-old woman from South Korea, has become an overnight celebrity in her native country, after admitting to being a chocolate addict on live television.

On November 2nd, Kim Do-yeon made an appearance on a Korean TV show, where she confessed to consuming large quantities of chocolate every day. You couldn’t tell by her slim figure, but the young Korean says she has eaten over 1.2 tons of chocolate in the last six years alone. As she demonstrated in the television studio, Kim Do-yeon loves chocolate in all its forms. Whether she’s drinking it from a glass, eating it mixed with noodles or steamed rice, she just can’t get enough of it. To quench her craving for chocolate, Kim Do-yeon says she melts small pots of chocolate every day and mixes with everything she eats, even meat.

Her TV appearance scored a record audience, and chocolate addict Kim Do-yeon became a real overnight celebrity.

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World’s Largest Gummy Worm Is a Real Calorie Bomb

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Measuring twenty-six inches in length and weighing a massive 3 pounds, Vat19’s giant gummy worm is 128 times larger than the ordinary worms you love to chew on.

Gummy bears are really good, but let’s face it, there way to small, and sometimes a whole bag of them isn’t enough to satisfy your craving of gooey goodness. The guys of Vat19 realized the seriousness of this issues and decided to finally do something about it. That’s pretty much how the world’s largest gummy worm was born.

Just like its smaller brothers, this chewy behemoth has a ribbed body, a nice smiley face so you know if you’re biting on its head or tail, and comes in a variety of dual flavors. The whole thing packs about 4,000 calories, but with a shelf life of around a year, you don’t have to rush and finish it all in one go.

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American Sculptor Carves World’s Biggest Halloween Pumpkin

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You might think you had your hands full with this year’s Halloween Pumpkin, but American sculptor Scott Cully had to carve his way through a 1,800-pound giant pumpkin.

Scott Cully has made a name for himself by carving overgrown pumpkins, and he even held the previous record for the world’s largest jack o’lantern, but this year he managed to beat his own record and get another mention in the Guinness Book. It took him two days, working at a pace of 100 pounds per hour, to work his way through the giant pumpkin, grown by Chris Stevens, from Wisconsin, but he managed to do it just in time for the big Halloween party. The event took place at the New York Botanical Garden, and it’s probably still on display, so you can check it out, if you’re in the Big Apple.

Scott Cully started carving pumpkins in 1988, when he and his wife got his hands on a 400-pound pumpkin, and, inspired by a few bottles of quality English hard cider, they began carving it into a jack o’lantern. Then he just kept on creating new designs, into bigger and bigger pumpkins. Using just a handful of kitchen utensils, Scott stays true to the tradition of creating jack o’lanterns, by creating scary Halloween pumpkins, with big mouths that kids can slide their heads through, and big threatening teeth.

Believe it or not, Scott Cully absolutely hates pumpkin pie. Ironic, isn’t it?

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Zhang Dexuan – The World’s Only Hair-Woven Portraits Artist

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While  Zhang Dexuan’s hair-woven portraits may by just slightly bigger than a fingernail, but their incredible detail require weeks, sometimes months of work.

66-year-old Zhang Dexuan, from China’s Sichuan province, claims he is the only artist in the world able to create detailed portraits from strands of human hair. Using just five simple tools and a magnifying glass, Zhang manages to created incredible portraits, from hundreds of hair strands collected from members of his family. Judging by the tools used, you might think the art of weaving hair is pretty simple, Zhang Dexuan claims he is the only hair weaving artist on Earth, and has practiced it for the last 54 years.

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Francisco Domingo Joaquim Has the World’s Largest Mouth

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Known as the Angolan Jaw of Awe, 20-year-old Francisco Domingo Joaquim has earned the title of “world’s widest mouth”.

Francisco, known as Chiquinho, had become an Internet sensation about two years ago, when videos of his incredible mouth stunts became viral on Youtube, but scouts of the Guinness Book of Records just recently managed to track hm down, in his Angola hometown. His jaw-dropping tricks have been viewed thousands of times, earning Francisco quite a reputation as the man with the world’s largest mouth.

To prove there is nothing false about his reputation, Francisco participated in the Italian competition known as “Big Mouth”, where contestants literally put their jaws to the test. They put all kinds of strange things in their mouths, including saucers, coffee cups, bottles, but none could beat Chiquinho’s coke can stunt. Francisco Domingo Joaquim  easily won the contest and thanks to his rubbery 16.99 cm wide mouth, he also became the man with the world’s largest mouth, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Even more amazing is the fact that despite putting a Coke can in his mouth every day, and having never been to a dentist, his teeth are perfectly healthy.

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Stewie, The World’s Longest Domestic Cat

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Stewie is a Maine Coon cat from Reno, Nevada, who proudly holds the record for being the world’s longest domestic cat.

Robin Hendrickson and Erik Brandsness, Stewie’s owners, have the cat since 2005 from a breeder in Hermiston, Oregon, and they decided to contact Guiness Book after seeing their friends astonished by the cat’s size. Measuring 48.5 inches (around 4 feet long), the Maine Coon Stewie is now the longest domestic cat in the world. The previous record holder was also a Main Coon that had a length of 48 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, with only 0.5 inches less than Stewie.

Robin Hendrickson also said that the Main Coons are considered the “gentle giants” of the cat world.

 

World’s Biggest Sushi Mosaic Created at Shanghai Expo

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Sushi may be a Japanese dish, but that didn’t stop a team of Norwegian chefs from creating the world’s largest sushi mosaic, at their country’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

As China celebrated its ten millionth imported Norwegian salmon, last week, Norway decided the creation of a giant sushi mosaic would be a great way to recognize the milestone. Norwegian chefs arranged 8,734 sushi pieces into a beautiful mosaic depicting the intertwined Norwegian and Chinese flags.

Relations between China and Norway have been a bit tense since a Norwegian committee  awarded the Nobel Piece Prize 2010 to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident, on October 8. By emphasizing on the importance of salmon in the diplomatic relations between the two nations, Norway hopes to come to better terms with  China.

Check out the making-of video of the world’s biggest sushi mosaic, at the bottom. It takes a while for the chefs to actually start arranging the sushi pieces, but it’s worth it.

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World’s Largest Toast Portrait Is Best Birthday Card Ever

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Trying to come up with an original birthday present for mother in law, a museum curator managed to set a new world record for the world’s largest toast mosaic.

27-year-old Laura Hadland, a museum curator from Leicester, wanted to offer her mother-in-law a really special gift, on her 50th birthday. Together with 40 friends and volunteers, Laura spent six hours toasting thousands of bread slices and arranging them into an amazing mosaic of the woman she calls not only a great mother-in-law, but also one of her best friends.

The world’s largest toast mosaic was created using a set of ten bread toasters and measures 32 feet 8 inches by 42 feet 3 inches. Its made up of 9,852 slices toasted to varying degrees of brown, which add up to about 600 bread loafs.

As a museum curator, Laura Hadland has had plenty of experience working with ancient Roman mosaics, and admits she was thrilled to create a modern mosaic out of her favorite food. Her mother-in-law says it’s a bit weird seeing her face recreated from pieces of toast, but at the same time very flattering.

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Vaulting at the World Equestrian Games 2010

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If you thought riding a horse was difficult enough, equestrian vaulting will seem like an impossible feat. Still, it’s practiced worldwide, and it’s even an event at the World Equestrian Games.

Equestrian vaulting is best described as gymnastics and dancing on horseback. Its origins are pretty unclear, with some saying it originated in ancient Rome, and other claiming it came from he island of Crete. One thing is for certain – horseback vaulting has been around for over 2,000 years, and it’s still a entertaining and exciting sport. Vaulting is particularly popular in countries like Germany and France, but it’s gaining a lot of followers in other parts of the world, like Brazil Australia or the United States.

In competitive equestrian vaulting athletes compete by themselves or in teams of two or more. Both the vaulters and the horse are judged according to their performances and receive scores from 0 to 10. Beginners perform their routine during the horse’s walk, while experienced vaulters perform on the horse at a canter. Horses used for vaulting are trained especially for this kind of events, and they are controlled by a lunger who keeps them moving in 15-meter circles.

The components of a vaulting exercise include a mount and dismount, as well as various maneuvers like kneeling, standing, handstands, flips, and tossing teammates into the air. While the vaulting horse is not saddled, it does wear a surcingle fitted with special handles that help vaulters.

The latest vaulting exhibition took place at the World Equestrian Games 2010, and was won by the US team. You can see an entire vaulting routine, in the video at the bottom.

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