Sand Bathing – A Uniquely Japanese Spa Experience

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Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, is home to numerous hot springs, the most famous of which are in the cities of Beppu and Ibusuki. These cities, with their balmy subtropical climate and bubbling volcanic waters, are major tourist destinations. One of their most popular attractions is hot-spring bathing, known as onsen, offered by various spas. But there exist a few spas in these cities that offer a lesser known, highly relaxing experience – sand bathing!

Sand bathing basically involves getting buried in a large pit of volcanic sand for up to 30 minutes. The experience is not only soothing and satisfying, but believed to be highly therapeutic as well. It is apparently great for treating infertility, diabetes, anaemia and asthma, and is also said to aid in weight loss.

The bathing areas consist of a huge boxes of sand, heated up with natural hot spring water. When the sand is thoroughly soaked in the water and steaming hot, the water is drained. Visitors are then let into the box and asked to lie down, as workers shovel copious amounts of sand on top of them. The bathers remain buried until the sand cools down, and are then directed to bathing facilities to wash the dirt off.

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Canadian Couple Live on Amazing Man-Made Floating Complex Miles Away from Civilization

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Canadian couple Wayne Adams and Catherine King are the proud owners of ‘Freedom Cove’, a colorful floating home off the coast of Tofino in British Columbia. The unique structure consists of 12 platforms, supporting wooden buildings, greenhouses, a lighthouse, and living spaces that are all interconnected through wooden pathways. Freedom Cove is special because it is a ‘getaway’ in the true sense – completely off the grid and self-sustaining in every possible way.

Adams and King, along with their two children, have lived at Freedom Cove ever since it was built in 1992. And they’ve managed to live a full life without the help of mainstream civilisation. They grow fruits and vegetables all year round in several greenhouses, and generate electricity through solar panels and photovoltaic energy generators.

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Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl Child is Born

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While a vast majority of Indians continue to prefer sons, a small village in the Indian state of Rajasthan has its own unique tradition of celebrating their daughters. Since 2006, the residents of Piplantri village, in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, have been planting a whopping 111 trees to celebrate the birth of a girl!

Given that an average of 60 girls are born each year, the villagers have managed to plant over 250,000 trees so far – including varieties like Neem, Indian Rosewood, and Mango. The community of 8,000 residents is also dedicated to making sure that the trees survive and attain fruition as the girls grow up.

Piplantri-village

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Indiana’s Famous Grave in the Middle of the Road

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If you happen to be cruising along County Road 400, in Johnson County, Indiana, you’re bound to stumble upon one of America’s strangest landmarks – a grave located dead in the middle of the road.

The grave apparently dates back to before Amity village even had a paved road. In 1831, a 37-year-old woman named Nancy Kerlin died in the area, survived by her husband and 11 children. Keeping with her wishes, her husband William Barnett buried her at her favorite spot on a small hill, overlooking Sugar Creek. While road crews generally tend to flatten out such obstructions, in this case, they made sure to pour the asphalt around the grave. Why? Because they were terrified!

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Turtle-Shaped Island Spends Nine Months Underwater, Only Appears in Spring

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Every year, with the coming of spring, thousands of Chinese tourists flock to the The Gorges Reservoir to see an elusive turtle-shaped island rise from the waters of the Muodaoxi River. The event, dubbed ‘spring turtle rising from water’, is celebrated by local residents because turtles are considered auspicious and a sign of longevity.

It sounds like a fascinating natural phenomenon similar to the Jindo Moses Miracle that takes place in South Korea, but in this case the “magic” is man-made. The water level of Muodaoxi River is controlled by the Three Gorges Dam. In spring, the reservoir supplies water to the areas downstream, bringing down the water level and exposing the island.

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The Elkhart Tooth Stone – A Block of Concrete Filled with Human Teeth

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The street corner at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Lexington Avenue, in Elkhart, Indiana, is home to an unusual memorial – a concrete block full of human teeth. While the teeth aren’t visible from afar, a closer look will reveal dozens of molars, canines and incisors sticking out from almost every crack and crevice.

The strange monument was created by local dentist Dr. Joseph Stamp, who practiced for 60 years in the area before he died in 1978. He had an interesting habit of saving every single tooth he extracted, preserving them in a barrel of chemicals in his basement.

At some point during those years, Dr. Stamp lost his dog – a German Shepherd named Prince. The incident left him heartbroken, and as a tribute to his loyal friend, the doctor created the concrete block embedded with thousands of teeth from his collection.

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Salty Dawg Saloon – Alaska’s Unique Dollar-Bill-Covered Watering Hole

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While many cafés and bars choose to display their patrons’ praise on sticky notes or paper napkins, a watering hole in Homer, Alaska, has every last inch of its walls and ceiling covered with dollar bills signed by its satisfied customers. Because of its quirky interiors, Salty Dawg Saloon is in fact a cherished landmark of Homer Spit – a 4.5-mile piece of land jutting out from Homer on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, into Kachemak Bay.

There is no shortage of bars in the town of Homer, but locals prefer driving all the way to the Spit and into Homer Boat Harbor, just to visit the peculiar Salty Dawg. Some of the patrons who visit the bar don’t even drink alcohol, but the place is so famous for its money plastered interior that many tourists just stop by to see it for themselves.

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Visitors Flock to South Korea’s Sheep Cafe

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When South Korean café owner Lee Kwang-ho decided to add a couple of sheep to his payroll, it was the best business move of his life. Since 2011, the fluffy employees at Nature Café have been attracting hordes of animal lovers and tourists. The shop serves all the café staples such as coffee, tea, and cake, but it all seems sort of extra-special when enjoyed in the company of a couple of fluffy sheep.

According to Lee, the café’s popularity has spiked recently because according to the lunar calendar 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. So lots of people want to see sheep, and the café is more convenient than seeking them out on a ranch. 21-year-old Lee Hyeon-ji agreed: “We were planning to go to a sheep ranch , but it’s too far and we didn’t have enough time to go there. Then we heard about this place where we can see sheep in Seoul and came to this sheep cafe.”

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Pathways to the Past – America’s Wood-Paved Streets

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For over 100 years, the residents of Philadelphia have worked hard to keep the 200 block of Camac Street in great shape. It might seem odd to spend that much effort on a single street, but the place is maintained for historic reasons – it is the only street in the city still paved with wooden blocks!

Camac Street is one of the few remnants of the old-style Nicolson pavements that still exist in some cities across the US. While wood block pavement is believed to have originated in Russia, the construction technique was made popular in the mid-1800s by Samuel Nicolson, the superintendent of Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.

Nicolson is believed to have revived the wood-paving process in order to solve several problems posed by early paving methods. At the time, wood was viewed as a better alternative to the irregularly surfaced cobblestone streets. Wood was also abundant, while stone was scarce. And horse-traffic made less noise on wood-surfaced streets.

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In This Small Alaskan Town Everyone Lives under the Same Roof

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Most of the 200-odd residents of the Alaskan town of Whittier all live in the same 14-story condominium – Begich Towers – located on the edge of town. The former Army barracks is often described as a ‘vertical town’ with walls so thin that keeping secrets is simply out of the question.

Apart from residential apartments, the one-of-a-kind settlement also houses a police station, a health clinic, a convenience store, a laundromat, and a church in the basement. It really is inconceivable how missionaries, bartenders, city council members, policemen, and even drug dealers can co-exist in the same building, share the same facilities, and ride in the same elevator.

As eccentric as this living arrangement sounds, it really does seem to work out for the residents of Whittier, mainly because of its size and the weather conditions. The town is rather inaccessible – you can only get there by sea, or take a long, one-lane tunnel through the mountains, which only runs one way at any given time. At night, the tunnel is closed completely.

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Louisville Mega Caves – America’s First Underground Mountain Bike Course

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Mega Underground Bike Park is a one-of-a-kind underground bike trail in Louisville, Kentucky. Spanning 320.000 square feet, with over 45 trails, Jump Lines, Pump Tracks, BMX, Cross Country and Single Track, the park is entirely located 100 feet or 10 stories below the ground!

The bike park is one of the many attractions at Louisville Mega Cavern, a man-made, privately-owned limestone cavern that encompasses an area of 100 acres beneath the streets of Louisville. Founded by Ralph Rogers in the 1930s, the cavern is currently used as a business park, entertainment center, and tourist attraction.

All set for a soft opening in early February, the bike park will be the nation’s first underground mountain bike course, and the largest indoor park ever built. In fact, it is nearly twice the size of America’s current largest indoor park – Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Warsaw’s Keret House – World’s Narrowest Home Is Just 1.2 Meters Wide

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Wedged into the narrow space between two buildings in Warsaw, Poland, the Keret House is considered the narrowest home in the world. At just 36 inches across at its narrowest point and 48 inches at its widest, the house is barely large enough for one person to move around.

The unique living space is the brainchild of Israeli writer and film maker Etgar Keret. The gap between the two buildings was discovered almost six years ago, by Polish architect Jakub Szczęsny. He realized that it was just enough room to fit a house, so he decided to go ahead and build one. Coming up with a design for the tiny available space was tough, but the real challenges were ownership issues, building regulations and financing. Luckily, he managed to raise 70,000 euros (over $80,000) for the project and began the construction in collaboration with the Polish Art Foundation.

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Shani Shingnapur – India’s Village without Doors

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Believe it or not, there’s a village in India where none of the 300-odd buildings – homes, educational institutions, and even banks – have doors. Cash is stored in unlocked containers, as are valuable pieces of gold jewellery.

Even most of the public toilets in Shani Shingnapur village square have no doors. “For reasons of privacy and following requests by women, we recently agreed to put a thin curtain near the entrance, but not doors because that would go against our belief,” said village shopkeeper Parmeshwar Mane.

Some villagers do put up loose door panels against their door frames, but this is done only at night, to keep out wild animals and stray dogs. The only problem with the lack of doors is that there’s nothing to knock on to announce your arrival. But the villagers have a solution for this, too. “Just shout out and somebody will come to the door,’’ one of the villagers, Rani, explained.

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Amsterdam Crane Gets Converted into Luxury Hotel

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Ambitious architects in Amsterdam have converted an old beast of a crane into a luxury hotel, complete with swanky rotating suites, spa pools and a TV broadcasting station.

The 250 ton, 50-meter high, decades old maritime crane is actually one of the world’s oldest and highest mechanical structures. It was almost in ruins, doomed to a life of decay, when a group of daredevil architects from various Dutch companies decided to get together and give it a new lease on life. 

Despite being dismissed as ‘technically impossible’, they decided to take on the task of converting the old crane into a world class luxury hotel. The project was not easy – they had to lay new foundations to withstand the weight of the massive structure, because the quay of the old wharf was simply not strong enough. Developers splurged nearly a million dollars on constructing each room. They even fitted the structure with a thrust bearing made of gold, allowing each suite to rotate with the wind.

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Villa Epecuen – The Argentinian Town That Spent 25 Years Underwater

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The town of Epecuen, in the Argentinian farmlands southwest of Buenos Aires, was once a bustling lakeside resort with a population of over 5,000. Over a quarter of a century ago it was flooded by the waters of a nearby lake and, until recently, it remained submerged. Now it’s finally come back up for air.

Established in 1920 along the shore of Lake Epecuen, the popular tourist destination played host to at least 20,000 visitors every season. Its main attraction was the saltwater lake, which contained 10 times more salt than the ocean. According to local legend, the lake is so salty because it was formed by the tears of a great Chief crying for the pain of his beloved. The waters of the lake were believed to cure depression, rheumatism, skin diseases, anemia, and even diabetes.

Thousands of visitors would arrive by train from the nation’s capital to relax in the town’s saltwater baths and spas. Tourists, mainly from Buenos Aires’ large Jewish community, enjoyed the floating water because it reminded them of the Dead Sea in Israel. The town had almost 300 thriving businesses – including guesthouses, lodges, hotels and other establishments centered around tourist trade.

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