Chinese Pavilion Made Entirely from 668 Abacuses

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Showcased during an abacus-themed exhibition held in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, this large pavilion model is made from 668 different-size abacuses. Used as a calculating tool centuries before the adoption of the written numeral system, the abacus is a big part of Asian culture, and is still widely use by merchants and clerks around Asia and Africa. Apart from the impressive abacus pavilion, visitors at the exhibition could admire over 100 abacuses, from the simplest to more complex versions.

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Living Keychains Are the New Craze in China

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Live fish and small turtles sealed in plastic keychains have become increasingly popular items sold at subway entrances and train stations across China.

The living keychains containing  Brazilian turtles or king fish swimming in colored water are considered good-luck charms by many Chinese, but animal protection groups are outraged and call them a perfect example of “pure animal abuse”. Business is booming according to Chinese online newspaper Global Times, which reports one fish and nine turtle rings have been sold in just five minutes, on Tuesday, at the Sihui subway station, in Beijing.

According to vendors, the colored water in the 7-centimeter-long keychains contains nutrients that allow fish and turtles to live inside for months. While that may be true, Mary Peng, cofounder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, says they couldn’t survive in the sealed bag for very long, due to lack of oxygen.

While animal rights activists are protesting loudly against the sale of living keychains, there isn’t much else they can do, because China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law – if the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law’s scope. Until the law changes to protect all kinds of animals, activists can only appeal to people not to buy them, and hope the market will die due to lack of customers.

Although some people buy these bizarre keychains to carry around for good-luck, there are those who buy them just to free the poor creatures from their tiny plastic cage.

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The Unique Burial Customs of Tana Toraja

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The Toraja Tribe of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is known for the cheerful way of treating death, and its unique burial grounds carved in sheer rock.

One of the most beautiful tourist destinations of Indonesia, the green hills of South Sulawesi are home to the Toraja, a tribe that still honors the old Austronesian lifestyle, similar to Nias culture. Most tribe members are Christians, converted during Dutch colonization, but traces of their old beliefs still remain and are most visible during funeral festivities and burial customs. The Toraja are obsessed with death, but not in a tragic sense; to them funerals are a lot like going-away parties celebrated by sacrificing dozens of buffaloes and pigs for a feast enjoyed by the entire community.

The main concern of a Toraja tribe member is to make sure he raises enough money so his family can throw the best party in town, when he leaves this world. Their bodies are stored under the family home for years after their death. During this time the remaining relatives refer to that person not as “the deceased” but as “the sick”, and raise money for the actual funeral, which is usually attended by hundreds of guests. Tourists are welcome to attend the festivities, as long as they don’t wear black or red.

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Aokigahara Forest – The Suicide Woods of Mount Fuji

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Referred to as “the perfect place to die” in Wataru Tsurumui’s bestselling book – The Complete Manual of Suicide – Aokigahara is a thick, dark forest located at the base of Mount Fuji, famous as a popular suicide spot.

No one knows exactly how many bodies go undiscovered among the trees of Aokigahara forest, but the ones uncovered so far have already earned this place an eerie reputation. In 2002 alone, 78 bodies were located in Aokigahara, and by 2006, another 16 suicides were reported. Some of the victims even carried copies of Tsurumui’s book with them, which makes this even creepier. The whole place is dotted with signs that read “please reconsider!” or “please consult the police before you decide to die!” but these have little power on those determined to die here.

“We’ve got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as ‘Suicide City’ and encourage people to come here,” says the mayor of Aokigahara exasperated by the high number of suicides registered in the area. Locals claim they can always tell who is going into the forest to admire its natural beauty, and who isn’t planning on ever coming back. They say part of the reason people decide to commit suicide in Aokigahara forest is because they want to die at the foot of the sacred Mt. Fuji and because it’s so dense and thick that sounds from just a few kilometers inside can’t be heard outside the woods.

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Three-Penis Liquor – The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift from China

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It comes in an unremarkable-looking bottle, but the “Tezhi Sanbian Jiu” rice wine is a Valentine’s Day gift your loved one will always remember, especially after you tell them it translates as “Three-Penis Liquor“.

I know what you’re thinking, many drinks have strange names like this to attract attention of customers, but in this case, the label is very accurate – this particular rice wine has various types of animal penis brewed in it to grant vitality to the drinker. The label on the back of the bottle says it contains seal penis, deer penis and Cantonese dog penis, all of them popular ingredients in Chinese traditional medicine, said to increase male potency and virility.

So if you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for your partner, look no further than Three-Penis Liquor; it’s cheap and it’s something they won’t soon forget. You can pick-up a bottle at supermarkets around Shanghai, just remember to make them have a sip before you reveal the secret ingredients.

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The Sanctuary of Truth – Pattaya’s Wooden Wonder

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Rising105 meters into the sky, the Sanctuary of Truth is a one-of-a-kind gigantic structure that pays homage to the ‘Ancient Vision of Earth’, ‘Ancient Knowledge’ and ‘Eastern Philosophy’. It looks like a Thai temple or a palace, but it’s actually neither of them, so many people just look at it at as a monument to Thai craftsmanship.

Covering thirty two acres of land, on a rocky hilltop overlooking the ocean, the Sanctuary of Truth is the most magnificent sight in North Pattaya, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. It is entirely carved out of teak wood and features the most beautiful and elaborate wood carvings I have ever seen, inspired by the four major artistic and philosophical influences in Thailand (Chinese, Thai, Khmer and Hindu). Buddha heads, sacred animals and all kinds of  religious and philosophical themes are depicted in the thousands of wooden sculptures and carvings adorning both the interior and outside walls of the sanctuary.

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Cars Dream Restaurant Really Is a Car Lover’s Dream Come True

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The Cars Dream Restaurant, in the city of Surabaya, Indonesia, features ten vintage cars converted into furniture, making it the ideal place to dine if you’re into cars.

Bobby Handojo Gunawan, owner of the Cars Dream Restaurant, says he has been dreaming about opening an automotive-themed restaurant for 15 years, and since he’s always been passionate about tuning cars, using them as furniture just came naturally. With ten vintage automobiles converted into unique restaurant furniture and accessories, the Cars Dream Restaurant holds the Guinness record for Most Cars on Display in a Restaurant.

Here are some of the auto wonders you can see in this unusual Indonesian venue:

  • a red 1949 Mercedes Benz Limousine  converted into a big dining table for 20 people;
  • a red 1969 Chevrolet Corvette converted into a beautiful aquarium with 100 fish;
  • a yellow 1969 Lotus turned into an organ and audio system;
  • two 1961 Cadillacs transformed into a cozy seating area;
  • a 1962 Chevrolet Impala converted into a cool dinning table

The Cars Dream Restaurant also features a 1954 Mercedes Gullwig 300 SL and a 1961 Morris Mini Cooper set on display for auto enthusiasts to admire. They don’t have an engine anymore, but they look just as good as the day they were shipped off from the factory.

If you’re ever in Surabaya,and you have a thing for classic cars, you must stop by the Cars Dream Restaurant, at 68 Raya Menganti.

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Tottori Sand Dunes – Japan’s Unique Desert Formation

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Many people will tell you there are no deserts in Japan, but while the Tottori Sand Dunes may not be the size of the Sahara, they sure look a lot like a desert to me.

The reason most people don’t refer to the Tottori Sand Dunes as a desert has to do with the amount of rainfall in the area. Japan is known for its humidity and rain, and although summer temperatures in the sand dunes exceeds 60 degrees Celsius, t gets far too much rain to qualify as a real desert. Regardless of their technical classification, the Tottori Sand Dunes are one of the strangest sights in Japan, and one of its most popular tourist attractions.

Stretching along the coast east of Tottori City, in the Tottori Prefecture, the Tottori Sand Dunes measure 2 kilometers from North to South and around 16 kilometers from East to West. They have existed for over 100,000 years, and research suggests they were formed from  the sediments brought down from the Chukogu Mountains by the Sendai River, collected by the ocean currents and prevailing winds off the Sea of Japan.

The highest of the Tottori Sand Dunes measure around 90 meters high, and thanks to the frequent rains,they have slopes of up to 40 degrees steep, making them a favorite destinations for sand boarding enthusiasts. The best time to visit this odd place is early in the morning, before other groups of tourists have a chance to trample over the sand ripples, but moonlight walks across the dunes is also an unforgettable experience. During the summer afternoons, the exposed sand reaches temperatures of up to 65 degrees Celsius, which makes barefoot walking quite pleasant.

The Tottori Sand Dunes are not the only strange sand dunes in the world. The Dune of Pyla, in France is actually surrounded by acres of green forest.

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Vietnamese Artist Turns Recycled Timber into Intricate Mosaics

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Nguyen Van Vien is a talented artist who collects all kinds of discarded piece of timber and uses them to create incredibly beautiful wooden mosaics.

The Vietnamese village of Khuc Toai has long been famous for its traditional carpentry, but a local artist is taking things to a whole new level with his original painting-like mosaics made from various types of recycled wood. Born in 1957, Nguyen Van Vien has always had a passion for the arts, and at age 19 he left his home village to study at the Indochina College of Fine Arts, in Hanoi. But it was a very difficult period for the Vietnamese, so after just two years of school, he had to return home and support his family. He turned to traditional carpentry, which barely earned him enough to put food on the table, but everything was about to change for the better.

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New Sega Toylet Lets You Play with Your Pee

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The SEGA Corporation has released a wacky toilet prototype, called SEGA Toylet, that lets you play video games with your urine stream. Just when you thought Japanese toilets couldn’t get any weirder, right?

Since the conventional gaming industry is getting pretty crowded these days, Japanese video gaming giant decided to try its luck in a whole new, untapped niche – toilet gaming. It actually isn’t s stupid as it sounds; whether they try to clean the toilet bowl with their stream, or aim it at a certain point, for some reason guys can’t help play with their urine stream, so why not capitalize on that?

The SEGA Toylet features a pressure sensor strategically placed in the public urinal, and a small display that shows the data from the sensor in the form of video games. So far, SEGA has come up with four games for their toilet entertainment system:

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Developer Destroys Building Stairway to Evict Top Floor Residents

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A Chinese family claims property developers have demolished the staircase in their apartment building to force them to move out.

What do you do when you really need a piece of land, but just can’t talk one last family into giving up their home? That calls for desperate measures, but this developer went a bit too far when it decided to actually destroy an entire staircase, to prevent a family from reaching their home on the top floor.

According to 42-year-old Zhao Yanhong, the Mianyang Yachuan Property Company wants to tear down this apartment building, in order to build a much more profitable factory, and her family is all that stands in their way. Apparently, they hired thugs to “convince” other residents to leave their homes, but there was no forcing out the family on the seventh floor. So, one day, they turned up with machinery that knocked down the entire staircase, all the way to that last apartment.

Now, the remaining residents can only enter and exit their home through ladders and climbing what’s left of the old staircase, which is very dangerous. They’ve already sued the property developer, and judges have ordered that all work be suspended for six months, while they investigate. Also, a new staircase is to be constructed for Yahong’s family.

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The Incredible Story of Nek Chand’s Rock Garden

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The Rock Garden of Chandigarh is a 40-acre park full of plazas, waterfalls and thousands of unique creatures made from recycled materials. It’s a truly impressive sight, but even more so is the story of how Nek Chand spent four decades creating it and how he kept it a secret, for years.

In 1958, Nek Chand was a road inspector for the Public Works Department, and was making rafts and boats to be sail upon the recently created Sukhna Lake, but peddle boats were soon made available for rent by authorities, and his craft was banned. This allowed Nek to devote more time to his passion for rocks and stones, and he began gathering them from the nearby Shivalik Hills, and the Sukhna Cho, Patiala Rao and Ghaggar rivers. It was around this time that the Swiss architect Le Corbusier was asked to design the city of Chandigarh, the first planned city of India, and the small villages around the area were demolished. This provided Nek Chand with plenty of material for his increasing collection of rocks.

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Python Wedding Held in Cambodian Village

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Over 1,000 people gathered in the Cambodian village of Sit Bow, to witness the wedding of two pythons, believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the settlement.

Early 2008, I wrote a post about a Cambodian boy who had an unusually friendly relationship with a full grown python. Villagers believed he was the son of a dragon, and had supernatural powers. Fast forward to present day, Chamerun, the boy’s female pet snake is getting married to male Krong Pich, and the whole village has gathered for the big ceremony.

While most Camodians are Buddhists, they also believe in animism – a belief that spirits inhabit the bodies of animals – so whenever a bizarre animal makes an appearance, there are always speculations about it being housing some important spirit. Fortunetellers told the two snake owner their reptiles were soul mates blessed by the gods, and that they needed to be married and live together, otherwise the village will be struck by bad luck.

The marriage ceremony lasted two hours and was attended by people from all around the village area. Two Buddhist monks  blessed the snake couple, while villagers showered them with flowers and sang traditional wedding music. It must have been pretty creepy, for the pythons, of course.

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6-Year-Old Girl Is World’s Youngest Yoga Instructor

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Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and the benefits it has for the mind and body are unquestionable, so its ever-growing popularity is not surprising . But what is very surprising is  6-year-old Shruti Pandey, who has been a successful Yoga teacher for two years now.

Interestingly enough, she is not the only “miracle” in her family, as her older brother, Harsh Kumar, mastered all 84 yoga positions by the age of five, making it into the Limca Book of Records and becoming a source of inspiration and motivation for Shruti. But he has never been interested in becoming a teacher.

67 year-old Hari Chetan, Shruti’s instructor, who set up the Swami Brahmachand Saraswati Kaivalya Dham Ashram 35 years ago, is simply amazed not only with her flexibility, which many may find normal for a child this age, but also with her talent and determination. She proved to be e vary quick learner and as she mastered this art for herself, it didn’t come as a surprise when she started teaching others, in classes of around 30 adults that start at 5:30am. Everyone is amazed with her talent and the patience she puts in for everything and every one.

“The best thing about Shruti is she tries to provide an alternative position for the complicated ones that are difficult for an older person like me to do. She’s very patient,” says 90-year-old retired teacher Swami Bhanu.

After only three months of attending Shruti’s classes, 48-year-old businessman Lokendra Pal Singh says: “I have noticed a positive change in my life. I used to be short-tempered, but now I’m able to control my anger to quite an extent and it’s all thanks to a little six-year old.”

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Cong Langui – China’s One Legged Chalk Art Master

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Cong Langui is a talented Chinese chalk artist who travels across the country creating amazing artworks that make people stop in their tracks and stare in amazement.

Cong may not be the only talented chalk artist in the world, but the hardships he has had to cope with throughout his life, make him stand out as a truly impressive person. He was born in the Linyi countryside, Shandong, and was diagnosed with bone cancer, when he was just 16 years old, and had his left leg amputated. It was a terrible blow for a young man, but he found comfort in painting, and started making replicas of world-renown artworks, every day.

At the age of 21, Cong Langui left his home and began traveling from city to city, living off his amazing chalk paintings. Now at age 48, the artist says he’s been to every one of China’s provinces, except Tibet and Xinjiang. Life was never easy for Cong, especially with only one leg, but by painting chalk masterpieces on city streets, he’s always made enough money to get by and keep traveling. Always hungry for cultural knowledge, the one legged artist would visit the art museum of every city he traveled to, in order to improve his cultural accomplishment and level of chalk drawing.

Every one of his chalk artworks takes hours to complete, but Cong feels that his pastel technique is of relatively low difficulty, and his biggest dream is to study painting in oil, watercolor and ink. Well versed in the art of chalk drawing (he has drawn Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” more than 300 times), Cong feels the need for a new challenge.

After the earthquake of Sichuan, even though he could barely afford to survive, Cong Langui insisted that all the money people gave him, for his amazing street art, be donated to the Hubei Red Cross.

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