China Opens Chocolate Theme-Park in Beijing

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Located inside the Olympic Stadium, in Beijing, the World Chocolate Dream Park is an Asian version of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, in real life.

Announced last year, as a way of pleasing the increasing number of Chinese chocoholics, the World Chocolate Dream Park is finally open to the public. As promised, the chocolate theme-park features a number of China’s historical and cultural symbols, including a 12-meter-long  chocolate replica of the Great Wall, an army of 560 terracotta soldiers of Emperor Qingshihuang made of chocolate, and a traditional Chinese painting of Panorama Along the Upper River During the Qingming Festival, in original size.

The chocolate terracotta army was announced as life-size, back in 2009, but the miniatures aren’t too shabby. According to a Chinese official, many European chocolate makers wanted in on the project, considering it’s a great way to advertise chocolate to a huge market that’s just discovering it.

Photos via Xinhua

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South Korean Balloons to Free North Korea

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In an attempt to undermine Kim Jong Il’s authority in North Korea, members of  South Korean nongovernmental organizations constantly send balloons filled with leaflets into North Korea.

On January 10, 2010 activists for the freedom of North Korea and the unification of the peninsula, from Paju, 51 km north of Seoul, sent two helium-inflated balloons into North Korea. They attached bags of leaflets and sweets to them, hoping to convince their northern neighbors to rise against Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship.

This practice has been going on for the last two years and North Korea has repeatedly asked Southern authorities to punish organizations who send the balloons and undermine the country’s regime. In spite of nuclear-war hints from its northern neighbor, South Korea hasn’t taken any measures against the activists.

The constant nuclear threat, reports of serious human rights violations and the existence of political prisoner camps in North Korea, make the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries virtually impossible.

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Tibetan Sky Burials Are Super-Creepy

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All funerals are sad and creepy, but they’re way better than feeding the corpse to a bunch of hungry eagles.

Sky burials are often practiced in the mountains of Tibet, both for religious and practical reasons. Basically, the corpse is placed on a mountain top and sliced open in various places, to attract the birds of prey circling above. They’d probably feast on it anyway, but an invitation like that doesn’t hurt.

Most Tibetans are Buddhists and believe in rebirth. Once a person dies, their body is considered nothing more than an empty vessels that needs to disposed of. Since the ground is often as hard as rock and wood and fire are precious resources, feeding nature’s creatures is a practical choice. I know it looks grotesque, but to Buddhists this is a last sign of generosity by the deceased, offering his body as nourishment for other living creatures.

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South-Korean Special Forces Winter Training

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Every year, South Korean special-forces undergo serious winter training to strengthen their minds and bodies and to make sure the cold doesn’t affect them on live missions.

More than 200 rangers take part in the grueling winter training session, in Pyeonghang, 180 km east of Seoul. They do gymnastics, swim in icy water, hurl snow at their bare chests, build snow shelters and sprint, all at temperatures of under -30 degrees Celsius. The extreme training lasts for nine days.

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Mass Ice-Fishing at Hwacheon Ice Festival

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Each winter, Hwacheon county, in South-Korea, draws-in over one million people to the Hwacheon Sancheoneo ice festival, held on a frozen river.

Hwacheon Festival hosts sledding, ice-soccer and snowman-building events, but the highlight of the event is the ice-fishing for fresh mountain trout. Under the thick ice, abundant quantities of fish are waiting for skilled fishermen. Anyone can try their luck at catching trout, at one of the nine thousand holes drilled in the icy surface of the river.

You might want to change your seat regularly, as the fish tend to move from one place to another, quite frequently. Once you catch a fish, you can take it to one of the mane cooking centers scattered on the festival grounds. There you can have it prepare raw or grilled. Any way you choose to prepare it, the Sancheoneo fish will melt in your mouth.

Another fun event at the Hwacheon Festival is catching the trout with your bare hands. Just slip in a pool of ice-cold water and try to grab the slippery critters.

Photos by Reuters via Drugoi

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Korean Winter Camp Turns Kids into Men

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That’s right, at Ansan military camp for children it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, they’ll make a manly man out of you.

Located about 25 miles from the capital of Seoul, the Ansan military camp gives civilians the chance to strengthen their minds and bodies, by training in extreme conditions. The camp is ran by retired Korean marines who don’t care if you’re in primary school or in college, they’ll have you carrying logs and exercising half naked in the snow.

You can choose to withstand the torture training at Ansan camp for periods ranging between three and fourteen days, depending on how tough you think you are. Check out some more photos of children training at Ansan, we posted a while back.

Photos by REUTERS via Telegraph.co.uk

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Finally, a Women-Only Car Park

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Sure, some women have been known o have trouble parking, but it’s safe to say the Chinese did a pretty sexist thing here.

These photos were taken at Wonder Mall, in Shijiazhuang city. According to a mall official, the parking spaces in the women only car park will be one meter wider, so women can park without damaging neighboring vehicles. To sweeten the deal, the walls of the car park have been decorated with orange and pink drawings. Yeah, I’m sure ladies will appreciate the gesture.

Let me know what you think.

via ImagineChina

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China’s Most Graceful Ballet Dancers

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Sure, they’re not exactly members of the Balsoi ballet, but you have to admit fat guys never looked better in a tutu.

In an effort to raise awareness to the protection of Pinglu Wetlands, five Chinese members of the workers’ union dressed in ballet costumes and danced gracefully in front of the cameras. I have to say they picked a wacky way to protest against pollution, but hey, whatever gets people’s attention to the environment issue, right?

Here are the chubby performers:

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Boxing on Floating Ice

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Boxing in the hockey ring seems dangerous enough, but the Chinese take it one step further.

Wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and sneakers, a group of winter swimmers entertained passers-by during a series of boxing matches performed on a block of floating ice. Held in Harbin City, the wacky competition had contestants punch each other with over sized boxing gloves while struggling to keep their balance on the slippery ice.

One of the ice boxers lost his temper when the referee tried to stop him from hitting his downed opponent and knocked the “official” in the ice-cold water surrounding the ring.

It’s a crazy event, but the Chinese don’t even come close to the neon-fighting Japanese.

via ImagineChina

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Heineken Presents Tastiest Christmas Tree

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Heineken has unveiled its original Christmas tree, made out of 1,100 FULL beer bottles, in Shanghai, China.

Created by stacking Heineken beer bottles on a custom-made armature, the beer-bottle Christmas tree has Nanjing Street passers-by drooling when they look it. It may not look like a traditional Christmas tree and beer is definitely not as tasty in winter as it is on a hot summer day, but Heineken’s Christmas tree is definitely my favorite for 2009.

via Inhabitat

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The Wishing Spheres of Singapore

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Every year, the people of Singapore celebrate the coming of the New Year by launching wishing spheres in the Singapore River.

The tradition of the wishing spheres was launched years ago by Singapore’s authorities as a way to bring people together and now it’s become an international event. People travel from all over the world to write their wishes for the new year on a giant white sphere and throw it in the Singapore River.

This year, a record 10,000 wishing spheres were available for inking, but they still weren’t enough to cover demand. The wishing-sphere-covered Singapore River is quite a sight to behold this time of year, especially at night, when the spheres are lit.

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World’s Largest Solar-Power Hotel Opens in China

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Using thousands of permanent solar panels to harvest energy, the Solar Valley Micro-E Hotel is the largest solar-power hotel on Earth.

Built by Himin Group, China’s leading solar products manufacturer, the Solar Valley Micro-E Hotel opened its gates Dezhou City, eastern China. It covers 75,000 square-meters and features thousands of solar panels and solar heat pipe collectors that harvest and store enough energy to sustain 70% of the hotel’s needs.

The solar energy is used for a variety of functions, including air-conditioning and water heating.

via ImagineChina

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World’s Fishiest Wedding Cake

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I’m all for originality, but replacing a wedding cake with a smelly tuna seems a bit too much. But in a country like Japan, where people fight each other with neon lamps, anything goes.

A wedding-planning company in Kanagawa has been offering tuna fish instead of traditional wedding cakes for over ten years now. The couple you see below has opted for a 100 kg-heavy BigEye Tuna as treat for their guests, but clients have a wide range of packages to choose from, depending on the number of guests.

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to the cake when attending a wedding, and this tuna doesn’t look very delicious.

via Japan Probe

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Man Sleeps with Dead Wife for Five Years

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They say love knows no boundaries, but this is taking it a little too far. A Vietnamese man has been sleeping next to his wife’s corpse for the last five years.

Le Van, a 55-year-old man from Quang Nam province, Vietnam, lost his wife in 2003. Because he couldn’t go to sleep at night without hugging his beloved spouse, he slept on top of her grave for about 20 months. When he couldn’t stand the rain and wind anymore, he decided to dig a tunnel into the grave, so he could sleep with his wife.

When the kids heard his crazy plan, they did everything they could to stop him, so Le Van had to think of another way he could cuddle up to his wife at night. In 2004 he unearthed her remains, wrapped them in pieces of paper and a clay mould and put a dummy mask on her face. The man has been sleeping next to his dead wife ever since.

via Unknown Highway

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Nail Art at Tokyo Nail Expo 2009

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Held at the Tokyo Big Site, on Odaiba Island, the Tokyo Nail Expo featured some of the most amazing fingernail artworks.

Apparently, the nail industry is really big in Japan right now, so it’s no wonder they’ve actually organized an exposition where nail artists could showcase their latest masterpieces. The Japanese nail industry has grown to 200 million yen, so it’s no wonder this year’s event drew in a crowd of approximately 50,000.

I’m not a big fan of painted, long nails, but I have to admit the nail artworks presented at the Tokyo Nail Expo 2009 were pretty impressive.

Photos by Junko Kimura/GETTY IMAGES

via 923NOW

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