Man Completes Epic 26-year, 550,000-Mile Road Trip around the World in One Unbreakable Car

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When Gunther Holtorf set out on an 18-month road trip to Africa in 1988, he had no idea his journey would go on for almost three decades. Gunther ended up traveling a whopping 556,000 miles spanning 215 countries in his trusty old car – a Mercedes Benz G Wagon nicknamed ‘Otto’. That’s the equivalent of making two trips from the Earth to the Moon, and then some!

It all started in 26 years ago, when Gunther quit his 30-year service at Lufthansa, met his fourth wife Christine, and together they braved gravel-covered, pothole-ridden roads from their hometown of Bavaria, all the way to Africa. After driving over 62,000 miles across the continent and suffering five bouts of Malaria, they decided to just keep going.

The couple removed the two rear seats in the car in order to make room for a mattress and storage space for clothing, food, tools, spare parts and utensils. After that, there was just no looking back. They made their way through South America, North America, Asia, Australia and Europe, always taking Otto with them wherever they went. In fact, they looked upon their beloved car as the third member of their family.

Gunther-Holtorf

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China’s Most Beautiful Student – Amazing Girl Carries Polio-Suffering Best Friend to School on Her Back for Three Years

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He Qin-jiao, a 13-year-old girl from China’s Hunan Province is a prime example of what being a true kind-hearted human being is all about. Believe it or not, this fragile little girl somehow carried her polio-stricken best friend and classmate on her back, to and from school, every day, for three years. That’s a four-mile round trip, just to be clear. Qin-jiao’s story has touched Chinese internet users’ hearts so deeply that they’re now calling her ‘China’s most beautiful student’ .

When Qin-jiao was 9 years old, she realised that her best friend, He Ying-hui, couldn’t come to school anymore as she was disabled by polio and her family couldn’t carry her. So Qin-jiao decided to take up the responsibility herself. The loyal friend carried He to school for three long years, until the local government heard about her devotion, and finally gave Ying-hui her very own wheelchair in September of last year.

But Qin-jiao’s dedication towards her friend didn’t stop ther. She still wakes up at 6am, finishes her house chores and rushes to Ying-hui’s house to push her to school. When they finally reach their destination, she carries her friend on her back up to their classroom, on the second floor.

best-friend-ever

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The Tragic Story of Rebecca Méndez Jiménez, ” La Loca de San Blas”

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Mexican rock band Maná released a hit single in 1997 – En el muelle de San Blas (In the Wharf of San Blas). The song is based on the true and tragic story of Rebeca Méndez Jiménez, the woman who waited for her love for 41 long years. She died in September last year, at age 63. Local authorities are planning to erect a statue in her honor at the San Blas Port.

I read Rebeca’s story in bits and pieces across various Spanish websites. No one seems to know exactly what happened to her; she was suffering from several mental disorders during her final years.

Local legend states that in her youth, she fell in love with a fisherman named Manuel. He went out to sea, promising to return to her soon and marry her. Rebeca was so excited that she put on her bridal clothes and waited for his return. Unfortunately, Manuel fell victim to a hurricane, never to return to his love. Since then, Rebeca had been spotted roaming the streets at the port of San Blas. Locals have seen her wandering without any direction, sometimes sitting before the lighthouse and listening to seagulls. She always wore a white dress, with a veil covering her head.

en-el-muelle-de-San-Blas

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Martha Mason – The Woman Who Spent 61 Years Immobilized in an Iron Lung

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Martha Mason was an extraordinary human being who spent over 60 years of her life in immobilized in an Iron Lung after becoming paralyzed in her childhood years as a result of polio. Despite her seemingly desperate situation, Martha lived a fulfilling life, graduating from high-school and college with the highest honors, hosting many dinner parties and even writing a book called  “Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung”, in which she portrayed the challenges and joys of her life.

Martha was born on May 31, 1937, in Lattimore, a small town about 50 miles from Charlotte. Her story took a tragic urn when she was only 11 years old, after the death of her brother Gaston who had suffered from a terrible condition which left him paralyzed before eventually killing him. After his burial, young Martha realized she had also contracted the dangerous viral illness but kept it to herself as not to distress her parents even more. “I knew that I had polio. I didn’t want anyone else to know,” she wrote in her book. “The day before I had heard Mother talking to a friend about the iron lung Gaston had been in. . . . I knew I wouldn’t have that difficulty because I had excellent lungs.” But soon she  too found herself  immobilized in the iron lung, dependent on it to do the breathing for her. “Iron lung” is only a colloquial term used to describe a pressure ventilator, a type of medical device which helps paralyzed people breathe by decreasing and increasing air pressure inside of a large iron tank. Ms. Mason has lived almost her entire life in such a tank with the pressure contracting and expanding her lungs when her weak muscles couldn’t. Doctors told Martha’s parents to take her home and make her happy for a year, as that was how long she had left to live. She outlived them both thanks to an avid curiosity and a desire to learn about the world.

Martha-Mason

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Tom Sukanen – The Man Who Built a Ship in the Middle of the Canadian Prairie

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Driving down the No. 2 highway south of Moose Jaw, bang in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie, one can see a large ship flying Finnish and Canadian flags. Confused about a ship so far away from the sea? Well, we were too. But it turns out the ship was built there for good reason by a Finn named Tom Sukanen during the Great Depression. His plan was to use the vessel to sail back to his homeland of Finland.

Tom’s story is the stuff that several Finnish and Canadian documentaries and plays are made of. Born in 1878 in the Finnish archipelago, he learned to sail and navigate with a compass and sextant, and also became proficient in steel working and shipbuilding – the only trades available on the coast where he grew up. At the age of 20, he sailed to America and ended up in Minnesota, like many other Norwegians, Finns and Swedes. He married a young Finnish girl and managed to make a small living on the farm his father-in-law had left them, raising a family of three daughters and a son. It wasn’t the life he had dreamed of when he left Finland, so 1911, out of desperation, he abandoned his family and went across the Canadian border in search of his brother. He completed the 600-mile journey on foot, finally reuniting with his brother in the Macrorie-Birsay area in Saskatchewan.

Sukanen-Ship

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The Shark Whisperer – Young Conservationist Dances with Great White Sharks

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Most people wouldn’t dream of going anywhere near a Great White Shark, and yet shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey has no problem swimming with the deadly predators and even hitching a ride with them, in her efforts to prove they’re not the monsters films like Jaws made them out to be.

27-year-old Ocean Ramsey got the nickname “shark whisperer” after photos and video of her petting 17-foot sharks went viral. The world is just discovering this brave young girl and her honorable cause, but Ocean has been traveling the globe swimming with many species of sharks to convince people they are not just mindless killing machines, for years. So far, she has come face to face with 32 species of sharks, including some of the most dangerous like Great Whites, tiger sharks and bull sharks. “I feel so fortunate that some of the greatest moments of my life have been diving with Great White sharks,” the blonde beauty said. ”It’s sad to think that the human race could be responsible for the extinction of such vital and beautiful animals.” She hopes her incredible experiences will grab the attention of the public and raise awareness to the plight of these fascinating creatures. A new study revealed that around 100 million sharks are killed every year, a rate 30 to 60 percent than sustainable. It’s estimated only a few thousands of Great White Sharks are left in the world’s oceans.

Ocean-Ramsey-shark-whisperer

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Frano Selak – Truly the World’s (Un)Luckiest Man

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What would you call a man who has managed to cheat death seven times, and also win the lottery? ‘World’s luckiest man’, might just be an understatement. But that’s exactly the story of Frano Selak, an 81-year-old music teacher from Croatia.

At first glance, there’s nothing noticeably special about Selak. He looks pretty much like your average, everyday octogenarian. But the life this man has lived is quite extraordinary. He survived one plane crash, several train and car wrecks and other disasters such as falling out of a plane through a door that was blown open, only to land on a haystack. Obviously lady luck’s favorite son, the icing on Selak’s record came when he won a £600,000 (almost $1 million) lottery about 7 years ago, on the occasion of his fifth marriage. Until recently, he owned a luxury home on a private island and a vast fortune. But Selak realized that “money cannot buy happiness,” so he sold his home, gave away his fortune to family and friends and moved back to his old home – a modest dwelling in Petrinja, south of Zagreb, right in the middle of Croatia. The only bit of winnings that he kept for himself was to pay for a hip replacement operation and to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary as a way of thanks for his luck. He now enjoys his life with his wife in his humble home.

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Mind-Blowing Portrait Made by Hand with 2.1 Million Dots Hides an Amazing Story

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The portrait below was painstakingly done by hand, in 138 hours, using a technique called stippling, which required the artist, Miguel Endara to “draw” it with around 2.1 million ink dots. As amazing as that may be, it’s the story behind this incredible work of art that’s really mind-blowing.

The man whose face Endara recreated with millions of dots is Benjaman Kyle. You probably don’t know who he is, and believe it or not, neither does he. Back in 2004, he was left unconscious behind a dumpster at a restaurant in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no belongings, no ID, suffered from severe sunburns and was almost blind from cataracts. The hospital he was taken to already had a Jon Doe, so they named him Benjaman Kyle, using the initials of the fast-food restaurant where he was found. Benjaman had no idea who he was, and didn’t really remember anything about his life before the incident. After months of medical evaluation, he was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. Authorities coudn’t find out who he really was, so Benjaman Kyle became the only missing person in America whose whereabouts were actually known. Worse still, without a social security number and a valid ID, his life was about to become even more complicated.

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Real-Life Forrest Gump Walks Across America in 178 Days

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25-year-old Nick Kleckner gave up his comfortable lifestyle and embarked on a 178-day journey from Florida to California, in which he relied solely on the goodness of strangers for food and a place to sleep.

Although a lot of people compare his amazing experience to that of Forrest Gump, our real-life protagonist actually got the nickname “Hobo Nick”. He left Atlantic Beach, on April 5 this year, with no food, no water and no money, but he somehow managed to make it all the way to Huntington Beach, California after an epic 2,500-mile walk across the North American continent  during which he went through 5 pairs of shoes. Kleckner says he grew up in an “awesome family” never having to worry about money, and that’s apparently what prompted him to go on this journey of discovery. “I had an urge to do this about a year ago when life was repetitive and I felt like I didn’t appreciate it,” Kleckner wrote on his blog. “Since I have been homeless I have lived more in the moment and have really learned to be thankful.” Throughout the 178 days of walking, the self-made hobo documented his experience by sending his mother updates via his iPod. She in turn posted them on his blog.

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Dashrath Manjhi – The Man Who Moved a Mountain

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Dasrath Manjhi, a landless farmer from India, made history after he spent over two decades chiseling away at a mountain with rudimentary tools, in order to create a road for his community, when the Government refused to.

If you’re looking for some motivation, stories don’t get much more inspirational than that of Dasrath Manjhi. 53 years ago, he set out to carve a 1mk-long path through a rocky hillside, all by himself, in order to make it easier for his fellow villagers to access schools, markets and neighboring villagers. “This hill had given us trouble and grief for centuries. The people had asked the government many times to make a proper road through the hill, but nobody paid any attention. So I just decided I would do it all by myself,” Manjhi told Indian newspaper Tehelka, in 2007, a shortly before succumbing to the cancer that was plaguing him.  With just his chisel, hammer and shovel, this legendary man turned what was once a precarious one-foot-wide passage into a 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road accessible by bicycle and motorcycle. The hill kept the region’s villages in isolation, forcing people to trek through dangerous terrain for hours just to reach their lands or the nearest market town. Children had to walk eight kilometers to reach school, but thanks to Dasrath Manjhi’s handmade road, that distance has been reduced to three kilometers, and people from over 60 villages now use it every day.

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UNBELIEVABLE: Stray Dog Runs 1,700 Km across China after Befriending Cross-Country Cyclists

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After a cyclist gave her food during a cross-country race through China, Xiao Sa, a little stray dog with a really big heart, followed the cyclists 1,100 miles across very rough terrain.

The incredible journey of Xiao Sa began on the streets of Yajiang, Sichuan province. Zhang Heng, a 22-year-old student from Hubei, was on a graduation cycling trip to Lhasa, when he saw the small dog lying tired on the street. He and his friends stopped to feed her, and the pooch started following them. At first, they thought she was just doing it for fun and would give up when she got tired, but the dog stuck with them day and night, and the guys felt she really wanted to go with them, so they decided to take her along to the end.

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Chinese Millionaire Becomes Miner to Stop Gambling

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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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Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants a Whole Forest

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It’s truly amazing when we get to cover news of people who single-handedly create something truly significant. Churches on a mountain side, for instance. Or in this case, an entire forest. Jadav Payeng, a man in his mid-fifties, has been instrumental in converting a sand bar in the middle of the river Brahmaputra in Assam, India, into a huge forest. His work of the past 30 years is being recognized by tourists and film-makers, the world over.

Mulai, as Jadav is known among locals, started work on the land in 1980. A scheme was launched at that time by the social forestry division of the district, involving the planting of trees on only 200 hectares. The project was completed after 5 years and all the laborers left, except Mulai. Dedicated to the forest, he stayed on and single-handedly looked after the trees, continuing to plant more of them. Eventually, the forest expanded to 550 hectares. According to Assistant Conservator of Forest, Gunin Saikia, this is perhaps the world’s biggest forest in the middle of a river. Mulai says there’s potential to extend this even further to 1000 hectares. Inspired, the department has planned to launch another plantation program this year.

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Woman Lies Upside-Down for 75 Days to Save Her Unborn Babies

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Child labor is arguably one of the most painful experiences in the world, and women who endure a few days of it are considered heroes. Going by this, a woman who went through 75 days of labor has got to be nothing short of super-human. I guess it goes to show how just much pain a woman would be willing to withstand, to save her babies.

31-year-old Joanna Krzysztonek was pregnant with triplets when she went into labor at just 21 weeks. When the first baby came out prematurely, it was too weak to survive. In a bid to save the other two babies, doctors at the neo-natal clinic in Wroclaw, Poland, decided to act fast – they stopped the contractions with medications and got Joanna to lie down on a tilted bed at a 30 degree angle, to avoid them starting up again. The umbilical cord was tied up and placed back in the uterus. What followed for Joanna were probably the toughest two-and-a-half months of her life. She had to remain upside down 24×7 with no break whatsoever, not even to use the bathroom. She wasn’t allowed to move one bit, and the hospital staff made sure she was bathed and fed everyday. “I had to be very disciplined as I was not allowed to move out of the bed for the whole 75 days,” she says. “This was very uncomfortable, but the staff kept me going.”

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