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Purification by Ice in Russia

To celebrate the Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany, on January 19, Russians plunge into ice-cold water to purify their bodies.

In a ritual imitating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, wholes are cut into the ice covering rivers and ponds across Russia and priests bless their waters. People actually stand in line, late into the night, wearing only their swim-suits or underwear, to jump into the ice-cold water.

The cold water is said to have a cleansing effect on those brave enough to jump into it, but some of the brave swimmers just do it for fun and thrills. Not recommended for the faint-hearted, the ritual of the Epihany helps harden the body and make it more resisliant to illness.

Surely some good Russian vodka helps the swimmers get through the ritual a lot easier.

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Barack Obama’s Look-alike

Ilham Anas is a 34-year-old photographer who has become famous for looking like Barack Obama, the new president of the United States of America.

Ilham Anas has become quite a celebrity in his home country of Indonesia and he now makes most of his money from appearing on various TV shows and posing as Barack Obama. His success story began when the original Obama won the elections last year, and his colleagues started making jokes about their striking resemblence.

His co-workers even dressed him up in a suit and tie, and took pictures that quickly found their ay on the internet. Since then his popularity has grown constantly and Indonesian can’t get enough of Obama’s look-alike. As you may know, Barack Obama lived in Indonesia fo 4 years, so his popularity is pretty high there.

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via Prikola

How the Dutch Welcome the New Year

I always thought celebrating New Year’s was all about fun. How can bathing in ice-cold water be considered and enjoyable experience…unless you’re a seal or a penguin?

About 6,500 Dutch gathered on Scheveningen Beach, in The Hague, for a quick splash in the waves, to celebrate the coming of a new year. Both young and old, most of the crazy swimmers said they do this kind of thing for kicks, because being normal is simply too boring. I agree with that, but swimming in water with a temperature of just 6 degrees Celsius? No thanks, I think I’d rather jump out of an airplane.

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via Prikola

China Fights Earthquakes With Cardboard

After the disaster caused by the huge earthquake in May 2008, China is looking for safer schools for its children.

And a possible solution is the temporary schools proposed by Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban. After the terrible earthquake that hit China and caused over 69,000 casualties, Ban brought his ingenious idea to the attention of the authorities, who approved the project. He and a team of Chinese students started building safe schools out of cardboard pillars, plywood roofs and polycarbonate as insulation.

The cardboard and plywood schools are temporary, but in case of an earthquake, should the structures collapse, the materials are nowhere near heavy enough to cause serious injury. The materials used are fireproof and waterproof. Shigeru Ban hopes soon he will be able to build multi-storied buildings out of cardboard.

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via TreeHugger

Barack Obama’s LEGO Inauguration

If you couldn’t watch Obama’s inauguration in person, you can do it at Legoland California.

Over 1,000 figurines and hundredes of thousands of bricks were used to recreate Barack Obama’s hystorical inauguration on the steps of the capitol. Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, are depicted as he takes the oath.

The figurines used in the LEGO recreation of the inauguration were all faceless, but one could recognize famous personalities like, ex-president George W. Bush and his wife Barbara, the next Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president of the US, Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin and Oprah Winfrey.

The LEGO inauguration will remain on display at Legoland California until May, so you have plenty of time to stop by.

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via Telegraph.co.uk

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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Geese Cause Plane to Crash

Jetliner crashes into the Hudson River after impact with a flock of seagulls.

Just 2-3 minutes after taking-off from the La Guardia Airport, in New York City, flight 1549 flew directly into a flock of geese that knocked-out both its engines. The pilot alerted the passengers to hold on, as he attempted to force-land the plane into the frozen waters of the Hudson River. He nailed the difficult landing and because of that there were no deaths and the most serious injury was a woman with two broken legs.

The passengers got out of the plane after the landing and climbed on its wings, waiting for the ferry-boats to come and take them to shore.  78 of the 155 passengers were treated by paramedics for hypothermia, bruises and other small injuries.

For his skillful landing under the given circumstances, the plane’s pilot has already become a local hero.

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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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Where Electronics Go to Die

No, electronics are not recycled the same way as ordinary trash. Electronics have their own graveyard, and it’s called Guiyu.

Guiyu is a town in China that is known as the largest electronic waste site on the planet. One million tons of electronics waste are shipped here every year, mostly from North America, Japan and South Korea. Since 1995, Guiyu has been attracting peasants from the area to work as electronics processors. They only receive about $1,50 for a sixteen hours work-day collecting valuable metals and usable parts from broken devices.

Guiyu is a very dangerous work environment, with some of the highest levels of dioxin ever recorded. The soil is saturated with led and other heavy metals while the water from the area is undrinkable. People that visit Guiyu experience strange headaches and metallic taste in their mouths.

Despite this, Guiyu’s electronic waste business is very profitable,  each year producing more than$75 million.

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The Amazing Creature That Is the Silkworm

Silkworms are extraordinary creatures that play a huge economic role in the world of man.

If you didn’t know the silkworm is the only completely domesticated insect in the world, which means it can not survive naturally in the wild.They are bread for their precious cocoon, that is processed into the precious material we know as silk.

Silkworms are only fed mulberry tree leaves, on which they nibble non-stop, day and night. This causes them to grow incredibly fast and start creating their precious cocoon. That is made out of a continuous silk thread between 300m and 900 m long.

Koreans appreciate the silkworm as a delicacy as they are a great source of protein and after they die they become infected with Beauveria bassiana fungus, which is used in Chinese traditional medicine.

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Too Cute to Eat

Impressive food-art that makes you want to play with your food.

Fruit and vegetables can become real works o art in the hands of a person with imagination and the pics below are proof of that.

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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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Creepy Carnival in Macedonia

Macedonians love their Vevchanski Carnival but most would find it a bit sickening

More than 1,400 years old, the Vevchanski Carnival held in the Macedonian village of Vevchani, blends pagan and contemporary traditions, drawing huge crowds every year. The entire village becomes a giant theater and every street and household is a different scene where people dress-up and become actors.

The three traditional masks of the Vevchanski Carnival are the bride, the groom and August the fool, all the others are worn by groups of people openly mocking the events and personalities of every-day life. Judging by the photos, the people of the Vevchanski Carnival have a thing for blood and the grotesque.

The Vevchanski Carnival takes place every year on the 13 and 14 of January, leading up to the first day of the new year, judging by the old calendar.

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GAZ-13 Chaika – An Old School Limousine

The GAZ-13 Chaika is an old, rare Soviet limousine with a sinister history.

GAZ -13 Chaika is clear proof the soviets had class when it came to building luxury vehicles and its design is appreciated by collectors in modern days. Only 3,719 Chaika limousines were ever built so they are prized treasures for auto enthusiasts, but for the Russians who remember the days of the comunist regime, they are just a dark memory.

Soviet leaders loved the GAZ-13 Chaika and so did the senior KGB officers of the 60s and 70s, but for average Russians the Chaika was just a symbol of the power the Comunist Party had over them. The large rear seat of the GAZ-13 Chaika made it easy for KGB operatives to simply drive by “suspicious” citizens and pull them inside.

Very few GAZ-13 Chaika are around today, since Russian policy had them destrtoyed after they completed their duty cycle.

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