Japanese Turtle Taxi Promises to Drive You as Slow as Possible

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Unlike most other taxi services, the Japanese Turtle Taxi caters to people who aren’t really in a hurry and prefer a leisurely ride. Surprisingly, there are many who enjoy a service that is deliberately slow – the unique taxi has been steadily growing in popularity ever since it started in December 2013.

The taxi service was created by the Sanwa Kotsu Group – they’ve designated 10 of their 500 cabs in Yokohama as ‘turtle taxis’, and specifically trained cab drivers to accelerate and decelerate as gently as possible. They’ve also been told to manage the ‘centrifugal forces’, to avoid making sharp turns.

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Live Out Your Own Horror Movie Inside the World’s Scariest Haunted House

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Imagine your worst nightmares, the scariest movies you’ve ever seen, and the most horrifying haunted houses you’ve been to. Put them all together, and you’re still not going to come close to the experience at McKamey Manor in San Diego, California. The place is so gut-wrenchingly terrifying that it can make the toughest of people cry out for their mommies.

The official McKamey Manor website describes the place as the ‘world’s only true interactive 4 to 7 hour extreme haunt experience’. “Be warned, this is not your standard haunted house,” the site reads. “This is an audience participation event in which (YOU) will live your own horror movie. This is a rough, intense and truly frightening experience.” And the entire experience is filmed, giving you a chance to star in your very own horror movie.

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Atlanta’s Controversial Church-Themed Bar

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Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium – otherwise known as ‘Church’ – is a controversial, one-of-a-kind bar in Atlanta. Located on Edgewood Avenue in Old Fourth Ward, the bar is famous for the religious art that covers its walls, a retrofitted confessional that serves as a photobooth, an organ for live karaoke, complimentary choir robes, and, oddly enough, ping pong tournaments. But the similarities to a real church end right there – instead of communion-sized glasses of grape juice, the Church serves up $3 beers in adult-sized glasses.

In the four years that it’s been open, the Church has seen tremendous success. Right from the opening night in 2010, the church bar has received national media attention. It is a popular tourist attraction in Atlanta, and a hotspot for hipsters and Hollywood stars such as Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Lady Gaga. “From Day One, it’s been a money-maker,” said artist and bar owner Grant Henry.

Henry, who previously worked as a bartender for 10 years, single-handedly created the 200-odd pieces of religious art that adorn the bar. He’s actually been making these eclectic pieces since the late 1990s, under the wacky pseudonym ‘Sister Louisa’. And it turns out that the Church is actually an excuse to showcase the work. “I did it more from an artistic point of view because I’m more of an artist than a bartender,” he admitted. “I turned it into a bar basically for my art. It’s more like an art gallery that sold alcohol.”

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Texas Man Spends $2.2 Million Turning His Backyard into Four-Pool Waterpark

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Summer in Texas may be merciless, but Hal Jones from Austin has found a great way to stay cool at all times. He spent a whopping $2.2 million to have four enormous pools built into his backyard. He wanted to create a pool experience that’s ‘second-to-none’, so he chose a property located on the shores of Lake Travis – where his guests could arrive by boat.

Once he identified the property, Jones hired designer Evan Mills to come up with a plan for the water-park and create four pools, each with its own unique design. “We have the hot tub, the kiddie pool, Lazy River and Negative Edge pool,” said Jones.

The lazy river pool, which includes a swim-up bar, is where he entertains his friends. “I traveled throughout Texas and saw how people loved the lazy river pools,” he said. “You don’t need to get out of the pool to enjoy a drink!”

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The Double Tree of Casorzo – A Tree Growing on Top of Another Tree

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Located between the towns of Grana and Casorzo in Piemonte, Italy, is a very unique tree – well, they’re actually two trees, one growing on top of the other. Locally known as ‘Bialbero de Casorzo’ or the ‘double tree of Casorzo’, this natural oddity consists of a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree.

No one really knows how the cherry tree managed to take root and survive in such a bizarre position. Locals believe that a bird might have dropped a cherry seed on top of the mulberry tree, which then grew its roots through the hollow trunk to reach the soil below.

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The Confederate South Still Lives, in Brazil

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The Americana municipality, in São Paulo, Brazil, is home to a very unique subculture – the Confederados. The members of this culture are the descendants of 10,000 Confederate refugees who chose to leave the United States after they lost the American Civil War. Today, the Confederados make up 10 percent of Americana’s population; they’ve managed to preserve the unique culture and traditions belonging to the Confederate South of the 19th century.

When the war ended in 1865, many former Confederates were unwilling to live under the rule of the Union. They were unhappy with the destruction of their pre-war lifestyle that included slavery. So when Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil sent recruiters to the Southern States of Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas to pick up experienced cotton farmers, many disgruntled Southerners jumped at the opportunity.

Slavery was still in existence in Brazil at the time, which greatly attracted the Southerners. Combined with their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Union, many felt that moving out of America was the only option available to them. Dom Pedro, who wanted to encourage the cultivation of cotton, made an offer they could not refuse – he offered them a package of tax breaks and grants, as well as a section of the Brazilian forest that they could call home. It was more than they could ever ask for – a chance to start over and create a new community with Southern values.

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Did You Know Japan Has a Quirky Shrine Dedicated to Curing Hemorrhoids?

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Weird shrines are not uncommon in Japan. In the past we reported about Karube Shrine, where people go to worship breasts, and the Shinto shrines where they bury broken needles in tofu. But the weirdest one we found so far has to be the Kunigami Shrine, in Tochigi Prefecture, that allegedly prevents and cures hemorrhoids.

So how does a shrine manage to cure a painful medical condition? Well, our guess is as good as yours. All we know is that according to an ancient tradition, people who wash their backsides at a nearby river and eat egg offerings are completely cured of hemorrhoids.

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World’s Largest Snake Gathering Turns Canadian Wilds into a Slithering Sea

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Every spring, the Canadian wilds of Manitoba become a sea of nightmarish writhing snakes. A tangled mass of thousands of red-sided garter snakes come together in what is considered the largest snake-gathering in the world. After spending the long winter months in hibernation, they all come out for a bit of a breather, to frolic in the sun and perform their mating rituals.

The fascinating event takes place at the Narcisse Snake Dens, a few kilometers north of Narcisse, in Manitoba province. What makes Narcisse the ultimate rock-concert equivalent of the snake world? Well, the answer to that question dates back to the Paleozoic era, when the area of Manitoba was covered by an ancient ocean. The water doesn’t exist anymore, but the ocean bed still does – layer upon layer of thick limestone rock covers the region, with thousands of natural crevices, tunnels and caves. Rainwater seeps through these cracks and when the rock gives way near the surface, the resulting collapse forms a sinkhole.

The cold-blooded snakes happen to love these sinkholes, which are perfect for hibernation during the harsh Canadian winter with temperatures reaching 50 degrees below zero. So they migrate from far and wide and settle into the sinkholes, putting a good distance between themselves and the frost line. Because there’s a limited number of sinkholes, also known as den sites, all the snakes in an area have to go to the nearest den site. So there are literally tens of thousands of snakes crowded into just one sinkhole the size of the average living room.

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World’s Strangest Job? Man Impersonating a Woman Plays Fox-Human Creature for 12 Hours a Day at Pakistan Zoo

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One of the top attractions at Karachi Zoo in Pakistan is ‘Mumtaz Begum Africa Wali’ – a mythical half-fox, half-woman chimera. With the body of a fox and the head of a woman, this bizarre creature manages to delight visitors more than any other animal in the zoo. Her witty conversation and fortune-telling talents make her an instant hit with any sort of crowd.

Once you enter Karachi Zoo, it’s hard to miss Mumtaz Begum – the organizers announce their bizarre attraction on a megaphone. When you get inside Mumtaz Mahal, the building that houses her, all you can see at first is a fox’s hide placed on a table-like arrangement. Suddenly, a woman’s head appears out of nowhere, exactly where the fox’s head is supposed to be.

The woman wears heavy make up with bright lipstick, and small children in the crowd are immediately captivated by her presence. Then she begins her story: “I was born like this in Africa 35 years ago, and I live on cake, juice, and fruits…” After a short monologue, she engages with visitors and answers their questions in several languages.

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Party Like a Caveman at This Cave Nightclub in Cuba

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Disco Ayala, in Trinidad, Cuba, is not your average party destination. It’s located on the outskirts of town, in a natural cave that was once the home of a notorious serial killer.

After walking down the dusty street leading up to the tiny cave mouth, revelers take the stairs leading down to the gated entrance to one of the most unique discos on earth. You pay CUC$3 for entry and a drink, and go down the stairs, and then down another flight through a tunnel. Up to this point, the place looks like a normal cave, apart from a large banner that reads ‘Disco Ayala’. But nothing can really prepare you for what lies within.

As you step out of the narrow tunnel, the sight that awaits you is nothing short of spectacular – a large marble dance floor is set up in the middle of a large cavern, the bright light from a rock-carved bar catches your eye and the colorful lights dancing on the stalagmites will leave you speechless.  Not to mention the loud latino music and the crazy performers. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

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The Art of Crossing the Street in Vietnam

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If you plan to visit Vietnam, prepare to forget everything you ever learned about crossing the street. Forget about waiting for the traffic to stop, forget about zebra crossings, and forget about traffic lights. Because in Vietnam, people cross the street by charging right ahead, weaving their way through moving traffic. It’s the only way to do it!

It sounds dangerous, I agree, but it also seems kind of fun, in an adrenalin-pumping kind of way. I’ve just spent the past hour reading about how it’s done. This is from a Vietnam Travel & Living Guide: “You want to get to the other end of the street but it does not look quite feasible. Unless you try it. Crossing over the jam is actually not that bad. You will just have to do it. The magic is that no one will ever run into you.”

I watched a few videos as well; it really does seem like magic. The streets are filled with moving scooters and cars, and the pedestrians just flit across effortlessly. They seem to maintain an intense focus on the oncoming vehicles, finding gaps and moving through them slowly but steadily. There’s just no other way, given the fact that traffic is a nightmare in major Vietnamese cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.

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The Santa Cruz Mystery Spot That Seems to Defy Physics

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The Mystery Spot, located in Santa Cruz, California, is sort of like a house of illusions. Here, water flows upwards, cars and balls roll uphill, short people appear to be the same height as taller ones, and people can lean forward up to 45 degrees without falling flat on their faces. It seems as though the normal laws of gravity just don’t work here.

The Spot is actually a large barn located on a 150 square-foot patch of  hillside land. Visitors are permitted to enter the shack after paying the owners an entry fee. They are shown a variety of unbelievable sights, like plumb bobs hanging almost parallel to the floors, billiards balls rolling uphill and people standing at impossible angles. The shack itself appears to be falling over, pulled down by strange forces. Adding to the mystery is the fact that people sometimes lose their balance, become disoriented and even feel ill within its four walls.

Discovered in 1939, the area around the Mystery Spot was originally supposed be the building ground for a summer cabin, but rumor has it that when surveyors tried to chart the plot, they found that their instruments acted crazy over one particular patch of land. The people who stood on this spot claimed that a mysterious force seemed to be trying to push them off balance, making them feel light-headed. The owners eventually abandoned their plan to develop the site and a year later, they opened the Mystery Spot as a tourist attraction.

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Japanese Pub Shaves Prices for Bald Customers

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Bald is beautiful at ‘Otasuke’, a new restaurant in Tokyo that has recently introduced discounts for the follicly challenged. Its management seems to have a soft spot for the bald, so they’ve slashed prices for men struggling with a receding hairline. Located in the Akasaka district in central Tokyo, Otasuke has been making headlines since its grand opening earlier this month.

‘Otasuke’ roughly translates to ‘helping hands’ in the local language. A sign outside the shop declares that the business fully supports ‘hard-working fathers losing their hair’ over their stressful jobs. ‘Be bald, be proud,’ it says. According to owner Yoshiko Toyota, she came up with the idea after volunteering in the efforts to rebuild the Tsunami-struck Tohoku region. When she saw how hard-hit the area was, she wanted to find a way to support the white-collared workers who are in turn helping out in Tohoku by driving Japan’s economy.

“I was thinking of some way to help support salarymen, but without a theme the idea was lame,” she said. “Then one day I was walking downtown and kept seeing bald guys. That was it.” Baldness affects 26 percent of Japanese men, and stress is a major factor. 48-year-old Shiro Fukai, a customer at the restaurant, said: “When you first start to go bald, it’s a huge shock, no question. Japanese businessmen have it really tough. The stress accumulates, then your hair begins to fall out.”

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Yanar Dag – The Eternally Burning Mountain of Azerbaijan

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Azerbaijan, a small nation located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, is well known for its rich culture and history. The country is a great tourist destination, with a unique cuisine, ancient monuments, modern architecture, and mud volcanoes. And the most well-known of its volcanoes is Yanar Dag, also known as ‘Burning Mountain’. True to its name, the mountain has been burning for as long as anyone can remember, and the fire isn’t showing signs of going out any time soon.

Situated on the Absheron Peninsula, 25 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Baku, Yanar Dag is a 116-meter hill located on top of a pocket of natural gas that constantly erupts into flames. These flames jet out at least three meters into the air, through a porous layer of sandstone. Unlike the other mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Yanar Dag has no seepage of mud or liquid, so the fire always burns.

A 10-meter long wall of fire continuously burns alongside the edge of the hill. This makes for the most spectacular view, especially at night. The air around this open fireplace is always thick with the smell of gas. The heavy Absheron wind, twisting the flames into bizarre shapes, adds to the mystery of the region. Tongues of fire also rise from the surface of the streams located around the hill. These streams are called Yanar Bulaq, or ‘Burning Spring’.

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Japan’s Valley of the Dolls – Artist Repopulates Deserted Village with Creepy Dolls

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When Japanese artist Ayano Tsukimi returned to her village 11 years ago, it wasn’t the place she once knew it to be. There were hardly any people around anymore, so she decided to repopulate the place herself – with handmade dolls. These dolls can be seen strewn across the village, on benches, in the street, outside her home, working in farms, and even lounging about the abandoned school compound. Over a span of 10 years, she has sewn about 350 life-size dolls, each one representing a former villager.

Nagoro is a remote village, nestled deep in the valleys of Shikoku Island. It was once a bustling center with a dam, a big company and hundreds of inhabitants. But the residents moved to bigger cities over the years, in search of better jobs, abandoning the village permanently. Its population is dwindling as the residents left behind continue to die. Today, Nagoro has only 37 living  inhabitants, and of course, many times more dolls. And Ayano believes that a time may come when she will have outlived everyone in the village.

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