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Chinese Village Gives Every Villager Gold and Silver Bars

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of a village-owned business, Changjiang Village, in China’s Jinagsu Province, has given every one f its 3,000 villagers 100-gram bars of gold and silver.

It’s no secret that China has the world’s fastest growing major economy, but some of its residents like to flaunt their riches anyway. Take Changjiang village, for example. This little settlement happens to own the Jiangsu Xin Chang Jiang Group, one of the top 20 private enterprise in China. It is involved in eight different industries, including electricity, chemicals and metals, and it’s apparently very successful in all of them. At least that’s the signal they’re sending through their latest gesture of generosity. Following a promise made back in 2009, the village’s party leader recently ordered over 600 kilograms of gold and silver, and  handed it to every villager in 100-gram bars.

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The Hikikomori – Japan’s Social Outcasts

Hikikomori (Japanese for “pull in”) is a term that refers to reclusive adolescents and young adults who choose to isolate themselves from social life. With about a million people in Japan suffering from Hikikomori, I suppose you could call it an epidemic of sorts. Except, the condition is not spread through physical means, it’s purely psychological. It is a phenomenon of social withdrawal that’s pretty much swept the nation in the past few years. About 80% of hikikomori are male, in their teens or twenties, and do not leave the confines of their rooms. They don’t go to school or to work, spending their days in the homes of their parents, reading, watching TV or surfing the internet, consuming meals left for them at the door.

A good example of a typical hikikomori is this boy I’ve been reading about. His mother supposedly refused to reveal his name, fearing social retribution for the boy. The 17-year-old was a normal child, but began to hate school about three years ago. This was after he became a victim to bullying and anonymous hate letters. One day, he suddenly returned home and locked himself in the kitchen. He’s been in there ever since, refusing to come out or let anyone in. The family’s response to this most unusual condition is even more strange. They have simply ‘moved on’, accepting the boy’s behavior as something he will eventually grow out of. They’ve built a new kitchen in the house, and his mother takes meals to his door three times a day. In fact, this is the manner in which most Japanese respond to hikikomori – with utmost tolerance.

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The Creepy Walking Dead of Tana Toraja

If you thought that zombies were only a figment of the imagination of storytellers, well, prepare to have your mind blown. If the rituals of the villagers of Toraja, Indonesia, are to be believed, almost every person who dies can turn into a zombie. Apparently, certain people of the village had and still have the ability to make dead people walk. And I don’t mean that metaphorically.

Reading about the funeral rituals of Toraja, I’ve come to realize that there are two separate theories on how the ‘walking dead’ evolved. According to one, in the ancient past, it was believed that a dead man must be buried in his village of origin, and not at the place of his death. Since villages then were far apart and extremely isolated, it was difficult for family members to carry the corpse through long distances. The help of people who could make the dead walk was sought, and the dead man would be able to walk back to the village where he was born. Kind of like a mobile service for the dead, I suppose. So in those days, it was not uncommon to find a stiff, expressionless corpse, walking straight ahead. And it is said that if anyone addressed the corpse directly, it would simply collapse, unable to continue the journey. Imagine the horror! Read More »

Hang on to Your Panties: Thai Man Collects 11,000 Pairs of Women’s Underwear in 30 Years

Some hobbies are downright disgusting. Like this guy from Thailand who collected 10,000 pairs of women’s underwear. No that’s not the gross part. What’s truly disturbing is that he smelled them all the time, even while he was driving. Ewww, right?

Apparently, his obsession was not just for underwear, but also for the stealthy way he obtained them. The police were tipped off about the thief after he broke into a building in Chinatown, Bangkok along with an accomplice. When they raided his home, to their surprise, they found not cash or jewels, but a whopping 10,000 pairs of underwear. And an additional 1,000 were in his vehicle. He then admitted that he had been breaking in and stealing female panties since the age of 18. He is now 48, so there was actually was literally 30-years-worth of underwear in there! Unfortunately, they could only arrest him on grounds of breaking and entering, since no one had actually reported any missing underwear. And I don’t suppose anyone would be interested in getting their missing garments back, either.

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Taiwan’s Musical Garbage Trucks

Taiwan is a small and densely populated island. Many years ago, their waste disposal system was faced with a huge issue – the public garbage collection spots were overflowing, smelly and infested with rats and insects. The Taiwanese government rose to the occasion, coming up with a unique solution – musical garbage trucks.

Instead of having people dump their household waste at designated spots, a policy was created so garbage never touched the ground. In the new system, garbage trucks would pass through every street and people had to bring out their trash bags personally, to dump into the trucks. How would they know when the trucks arrived? Through music of course. For several years, the trucks have played the tune of “Für Elise” by Beethoven and “A Maiden’s Prayer” by Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska. The sound of these tunes had city-dwellers emerge from their homes almost every night, with blue plastic bags filled with trash and another bag of recyclable waste, to dump into the truck.

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Buffalo Body-Painting at Unique Traditional Festival

What started as a means to ward off intruders, is now a full-blown festival. The people of Jiangcheng County, China’s Yunnan Province, have their bulls painted and decorated by artists for a major event every year. The bulls are displayed in a riot of colors, painted with a variety of themes.

Traditionally, the bulls were painted by the Hani people of China in the belief that the practice would protect their village, mainly by preventing tigers from wandering into their homes. Of course, the threat of tigers and other man-eaters has reduced drastically in modern times, but the festival continues to be celebrated with much enthusiasm. The China-Laos-Vietnam Bull Painting Festival, as it is called, had 48 participating teams this year. The paraded bulls were hardly recognizable, covered in colors like bright blue, gold, yellow and red. But the paintings were far from abstract. The bulls served as a canvas for some real artistic talent, landscapes, portraits, and intricate patterns adorned their otherwise brown or white skin. Even the horns were covered with paint.

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Tickets for Noah’s Ark 2012 Are Holiday Bestsellers on Chinese Shopping Site

It’s been long said that the year 2012 will see the end of the world. The movie 2012 even makes an attempt to show us the catastrophic events leading up t0 the worldwide disaster, and a modern version of Noah’s Ark, a ship in Tibet where people will be safe. While tickets for the movie ship cost a billion Euros each, in real life they can be purchased  for less than $0.5.

Chinese online shopping portal, Taobao, has several online stores selling these counterfeit tickets at 3 RMB a piece. The tickets have been popular as a new year’s gift, a comical way of ensuring one’s safety in the face of the 2012 Armageddon. Thousands of tickets have been sold so far. Physical stores are printing up and selling these tickets, too. One store in Jingsau has sold 2,500 train and ark tickets at 3 RMB each. Another one sold 1,700 Chinese Noah’s Ark passes in a month, at 2 RMB each.

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Chinese “Wolf Dad” Reveals Brutal Parenting Techniques

This isn’t the first time the Chinese have been in the news for their strict parenting techniques. When Chinese-American Amy Chua came out with her book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, it was met with a lot of criticism.

Now it’s Xiao Baiyou’s turn. Also Chinese, the 47-year-old businessman recently published a book called “That’s Why They Go to Peking University”, about his fathering techniques. He believes that his practice of hitting his children with a rattan cane helped them get into top colleges. He has been nicknamed “Wolf Dad” after his brutal methods, and he is actually proud of the title. “Wolves look ferocious and brutal, yet they have great wisdom and are exceptionally tender to their cubs,” he said. His brutality, according to him, is only out of love.

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Bride Kidnapping – A Controversial Tradition in Kyrgyzstan

Many women dream of being carried away on a white horse, by their knight-in-shining-armor. But what if the so-called knight turned out to be an abductor, forcing a woman to elope with him?

That is exactly the case with bride kidnappings that take place in Kyrgzstan, Central Asia. Parodied in the 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the practice is a harsh reality of the region, more prevalent in Kyrgzstan than Kazakhstan. In the film, Pamela Anderson was kidnapped by the main character for marriage. In real life unfortunately, the stories are never funny. Although precise statistics are unavailable, it is commonly believed that more than half of Kyrgyz wives are married in this manner. It is even seen as a matter of pride, a means for a man to prove his manhood. Often, the families of the groom participate in the abduction, they help in planning the ‘capture’ of their son’s would-be wife. A white scarf is placed, often forcibly, on the woman’s head, signalling her acceptance. Once kidnapped, the bride’s family urge her to accept her situation and her new husband, for fear that she would never find another suitable mate again.

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Lensless Glasses – Asia’s Crazy Fashion Trend

The grass is always greener on the other side, to quote the cliche. Those who have glasses don’t want them, and those who don’t, will wear them with no lenses!

This is the latest fad in Hong Kong and several other Asian countries. It’s common to find people sporting empty plastic frames, in a variety of bright colors that match their outfit or their hair. It might confuse you as to why anyone who didn’t have to wear glasses would want to. But they seem to have reasons of their own. According to popular radio host Chu Fun, the empty glasses are great because they match her outfits, but they are also practical. When she doesn’t have time to put on makeup, the lensless glasses are great to cover up dark circles, she says. They also don’t blind her by fogging, or get stuck to false eyelashes or mascara. Chu has four pairs already, in black, pink, red and purple.

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Taichung’s Rainbow Village – The Hand-Painted Wonder of Taiwan

It’s hard to believe that one man can change the fate of an entire village. Huang Yung-fu, an 86-year-old war veteran has done just this.

Huang lives in a village in a corner of the Taiwanese city of Taichung, a community that was created for Nationalist soldiers in the 1940s and 50s. Over the years, the place slowly changed into a permanent settlement, suffering from urban problems like abandonment, decay and housing dereliction. However, none of this is visible in the settlement today, thanks to the transformation brought about by Huang’s colorful paintings. The streets and the walls of practically every building in the village are covered with Huang’s simplistic paintings of plants, animals, TV personalities, birds and buffaloes. Considering the fact that he began painting only two years ago, his accomplishment is pretty huge. The bright colors and simple strokes used by Huang only add to the attractiveness of his work.

Photo by Steve Barringer

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Japanese Company Offers Single-Person Karaoke Rooms

We now have one more reason to visit Japan – private Karaoke rooms.

Do you find yourself wishing that you could have had a little more practice before getting up to karaoke before all your friends? Or are you just a bathroom singer who prefers to sing alone, along with just music and lyrics? Either way, private karaoke rooms could be just as fun and exciting for you. The single-person karaoke room, also known as ‘1Kara’ in Japan, was launched late November, and has been gaining in popularity. The store is located in front of Kanda station in Tokyo and offers small, solo rooms, equipped with a table, chair, microphones, headphones and a small screen.

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Chinese Chef Builds His Own Jeep with Just $600

Qu Zhibo, a chef from Zigong City, China’s Sichuan Province, spent three years and just 4,000 yuan ($628) building his own knockoff Jeep. His efforts have made him somewhat of an Internet celebrity, in China.

I was convinced Chinese car enthusiasts can be very resourceful when it comes to building their own dream cars after seeing photos of a young man working on his home-made Lamborghini, so Qu Zhibo’s achievement just comes as a confirmation. Because he was busy running his own restaurant, Qu Zhibo took three years to complete work on his 2-meters-long, 1.5-meters-high Jeep, but he did use just 600 bucks to do it. The car, which many Chinese netizens called a “knockoff Hummer” was actually inspired by an American military vehicle, and even though right now it pretty much looks like a pile of junk on wheels, a bit of camouflage paint could go a long way.

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Students Claim Haunted Toilet is Causing Them to Faint and Scream

Kids love exchanging horror stories at school, even if it means weeks of sleepless nights. But what if a real ghost decides to make a guest appearance? It could cause kids to lose not just sleep but even their sanity. In Vietnam, it’s causing them to faint on a regular basis.

The students of Son Hoa Ethnic Boarding High School in the Son Hoa District claim to have had supernatural visitors in the bathroom at night, causing many of them lose consciousness. It all started with K Pa Ho Luon, a student of the school. He returned to his dorm one night  in November, from the toilet area, in a state of hysteria. He was talking gibberish, fell to the floor and began to scratch the walls and the floor. All this, just before he passed out. Luon was then rushed to the hospital by school authorities. When he recovered, he claimed to have met a ghost in the toilet.

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In Thailand, a “Like” on Facebook Can Get You 15 Years in Jail

In older times, it was “off with your head” if you spoke ill of the King. Now, you go to jail for posting your feelings on Facebook about the Thai monarchy, which many of the Thai folk actively do. In fact, over 10,000 pages of material was found on the social networking, containing images or text that is offensive to the royal family.

The Information Minister of Thailand, Anudith Nakornthap, warned the people of Thailand that if users on Facebook so much as even like or share any kind of information insulting the monarchy, the consequences would be severe. Such a person could be charged with violation of the lese majeste laws of the country, and could serve up to 15 years in prison. He also advised people to ‘unlike’ any pages and remove any comments made on similar lines. In a world where democracy and freedom of speech are taken for granted in most countries, this news might come across as quite surprising. I mean, we’ve lost count of the number of jokes made online at the expense of Bush, Palin and the likes. Thailand however, has always been strict in enforcing laws that protect the dignity of the sovereign.

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