Thames Town – A Little Piece of England in China

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It’s no secret the Chinese wrote the book on knock-offs, but did you know they copy whole towns these days? Thames Town, in Shanghai, is a replica of small English town complete with everything you might expect, except the people.

“I wanted the properties to look exactly the same as those in the United Kingdom. I think English properties are very special. When we decide to learn from others, we should not make any improvements or changes.” That’s what James Ho, the head of Shanghai Hengde Real Estate, the company in charge of building Thames Town, told Reuters back in 2006, when the weird settlement was inaugurated. The buildings of Thames Town copy the real ones in England so closely that complaints have been filed by English pub owners, and this genuine British look was exactly what was supposed to draw people to this place. Only, like many other ambitious and expensive Chinese projects, Thames Town failed to impress a lot of people and is now virtually a ghost town in Shanghai, the city that drive’s China’s economy.

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Tang Du Zoology – Dining in China’s Indoor Natural Habitat

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There are plenty of cool places to eat at in China, but one of the most amazing has to be the Tang Dousheng State Park, also known as Tang Du Zoology. This unique venue spreads over 1,600 square feet and features over 1,500 exotic plants and various animals.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t yet had the chance to dine in a place larger than three NFL football fields, so the Tang Dousheng State Park in Taiyuan, an industrial city about 400km from Beijing, sounds pretty special to me. But it’s not just the size that makes this place stand out from other food joints in China. Inaugurated in 2005, Tang Du Zoology was meant to be an indoor “natural habitat” full of exotic plants, rugged rockery and rare animals, where people could experience fine Chinese cuisine in a wild-like environment. Usually you have to go outside for a breath of fresh air, but in Taiyuan, you have to step inside this amazing restaurant to let your lungs know what they’ve been missing out on. The place also serves wide range of Chinese food styles (Guangdong, Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui) but the food is not the first reason to dine at Tang Dousheng State Park.

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Guolizhuang – Beijing’ Famous Penis Restaurant

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They couldn’t pay me enough to try a bite of cooked animal genitalia, but there are people who would spend hundreds of dollars on delicacies like cooked yak penis or sheep gonads. These are the kind of foods that have made the Guolizhuang Restaurant so popular in China’s capital city.

According to a well-known saying, “Chinese eat anything with four legs, except tables. And everything that flies, except airplanes,” and the food served at the Guolizhuang Restaurant, in Beijing is proof of that. This bizarre establishment opened its gates in 2006, offering all kinds of dishes with animal genitalia as the main ingredient. Many Chinese believe animal penises increase male potency and do wonders for women’s skin, so word about the culinary wonders served at the restaurant on Dongsishitiao Street spread quickly, and the owners were happy to expand their business. There are now several franchises throughout Beijing and one in Atlanta’s Chinatown.

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Huangluo – The World’s First Long-Hair Village

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Hair is very important to women, who generally use it to highlight their features, but for the women of the ethnic Yao people of Huangluo Village, China, hair is their most prized possession.

Located in the Longji Scenic Are of Gulin, China, Huangluo Village numbers around 82 households of Red Yao ethnics, who get their name from the traditional red clothing. Like many other Chinese villages, Hunagluo enjoys very attractive natural surroundings and has plenty of ancient traditions to keep tourists entertained, but the most fascinating thing about it is the women’s obsession with long hair. In fact, the Yao settlement has received a Guinness certification for the “world’s longest hair village” and is also known as the “Long Hair Village” across China. Considering the average hair length of the 120 women in Huangluo is 1,7 meters and the longest locks exceed 2.1 meters, I’d say its reputation is well-deserved.

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Chinese Hairdresser Uses Zen Meditation to Cut Hair with His Eyes Closed

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Tian Hao, a Chinese hair-stylist, from Xi’an, Shanxi Province, has recently made news headlines with his unique method of cutting hair. With his eyes shut, Tian claims to use Zen meditation to “feel” the aura of his customers’ hair and trim it without chopping bits of scalp.

Until now, I thought using an open flame was the most extreme way of styling hair, but after reading about Tian Hao’s technique, my opinion has changed. This Chinese master keeps his eyes closed while wielding two sharp scissors and unleashes his hair-cutting talents on live subjects who actually pay a fortune for his service. To demonstrate his unusual skill, Tian recently made a demonstration at his salon in Xi’an, where he cut two models’ hair at the same time, without chopping their scalps off. In fact, the beggar-looking hairdresser says he hasn’t had an accident with the scissors yet.

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Chinese Puzzle Balls – The Rubik’s Cube of the Ancient World

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For centuries, Chinese arts and crafts have been known around the world for their incredible beauty and finesse. If I were to pick a single object that best describes the Chinese attention to detail it would surely be an ivory puzzle ball. It’s definitely one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

Chinese puzzle balls are ornate decorative items that consist of several concentric spheres, each of which rotates freely, carved from the same piece of material. Although the master carvers of old used ivory, in modern times you can find puzzle balls made of synthetic ivory, resin, wood, jade, and other materials. These detailed works of art are usually made up of at least 3 to 7 layers, but the world’s largest puzzle ball is actually made of 42 concentric balls all enclosed one within the other. Although the inner balls can be manipulated to align all the holes, Chinese puzzle balls got their name from people who, through the ages, pondered the mystery of making such objects.

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The Fragile Porcelain House of Tianjin

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Zhang Lianzhi, a 50-year-old porcelain collector from Tianjin, China, has spent four years decorating an old house with hundreds of millions of ancient porcelain fragments and tons of natural crystals. It’s now known as the Porcelain House or Yuebao House.

The Porcelain House of Tianjin opened its gates to the public on September 2nd, 2007, onChifeng Street in Heping District. The old French-style building has a history of over 100 years. It was originally the home of a central finance minister in the late Qing dynasty, and was later converted into a bank, after the founding of New China, in 1949. But after the bank changed its location, the beautiful building was left deserted for several years, until porcelain collector Zhang Lianzhi bought it for 1 million yuan ($160,000). He then spent the following four years turning it into a unique edifice, decorated with porcelain dating from the Tang (AD 618-907) to the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Now the Porcelain House is the most eye-catching building in Tianjin, and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

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The Future Is Now – China Opens Robot-Operated Restaurant

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Well, it’s not exactly as advanced as you’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, but China’s colorful robot-themed restaurant can be a sign of things to come.

They’re probably going to render us extinct one day, so we might as well enjoy their servitude, while it lasts. A unique restaurant, in Harbin, China’s Heilongjiang Province, has 18 different robots doing all kinds of jobs, from ushering in guests to waiting tables and cooking various dishes. All the robots were designed and created by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, they invested around 5 million yuan ($790,000) in the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($31,500 – $47,000). With an average cost per dinner of between $6 and $10, they won’t be recovering their investment anytime soon, but it is great advertisement for what the robot company can create.

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Reporters Travel To China to Test Fabled Melt-Proof Ice Cream

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Legend has it that in China there is an ice-cream that simply doesn’t melt even when left at room temperature for hours. So the guys at RocketNews24 sent a report to investigate on this myth.

Now, we’ve posted about some pretty special ice-cream treats, like the sinful Vice Lolly and the ice cream made from breast milk, but an ice-cream that doesn’t melt? That was unheard of, so a reporter from the Japanese wacky news site journeyed to China to uncover the truth about this legendary frozen dessert. He picked up one of these special lollies generically called “Banana” from a 7-11 but learned that the popsicle made by Nestle China can be found in pretty much any shop around the country. While you might expect a treat called Banana to actually taste like the world’s most popular fruit, this particular lolly has a plain vanilla ice-cream core encased in a sort of yellow gelatin, which the consumer can peel in order to reveal the vanilla center.

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Man Wins BMW after Keeping His Hand “Glued” to It for 87 Hours

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Song Changjiang, a lucky 27-year-old from Chengdu, China, has won the right to drive in a BMW 1 Series after keeping his hand glued to it for 4 days and three nights, in a bizarre contest.

What some people wouldn’t do for the chance to win a brand new BMW. Take the participants in the  ‘Who Can Keep Their Hand on the BMW‘ contest held in China’s Chengdu City. 120 contestants, aged between 18 and 40, signed up for the chance to win a BMW 1 Series. Organizers brought out a few vehicles, placed palm-shaped stickers on them, and all the participants had to do is keep their hands on them for as long as they could. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? I thought so too, but judging by the photos taken during the competition, it was a real physical and mental test.

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Welcome to PigVille, China’s First Village for Pigs

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In an attempt to make their pigs more comfortable, the people of Zhangpu Village, in China, have built a residential complex for them, made up of 600 small concrete houses.

Most pigs spend all their lives locked up in pens, just waiting to be slaughtered, but the lucky swine of Zhangpu are living the good life in their very own village. At first, the idea of moving the animals from their industrial complex didn’t appeal to the locals, primarily because of the $1,230 price tag of each needed villa, but critics were put to rest once everyone noticed how happy the pigs were and how fast they started growing. The pig’s happiness was actually the main goal of PigVille (not its official name), as it is believed relaxed animals have a more delicious meat.

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UNBELIEVABLE: Stray Dog Runs 1,700 Km across China after Befriending Cross-Country Cyclists

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After a cyclist gave her food during a cross-country race through China, Xiao Sa, a little stray dog with a really big heart, followed the cyclists 1,100 miles across very rough terrain.

The incredible journey of Xiao Sa began on the streets of Yajiang, Sichuan province. Zhang Heng, a 22-year-old student from Hubei, was on a graduation cycling trip to Lhasa, when he saw the small dog lying tired on the street. He and his friends stopped to feed her, and the pooch started following them. At first, they thought she was just doing it for fun and would give up when she got tired, but the dog stuck with them day and night, and the guys felt she really wanted to go with them, so they decided to take her along to the end.

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Chinese Billionaire Pays $800,000 to Find ‘Pure Wife’

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They say you can’t put a price on love, but a mysterious Chinese millionaire is trying to prove everyone wrong by spending a matchmaking service 5 million yuan( $788,000) to find him a suitable wife.

On May 20th, the Garden Hotel, in China’s Guangzhou City, hosted a special event entitled “Multi-Millionaire Seeking Spouses in Ten Cities Show”. The ‘show’ was basically a competition between 320 female candidates battling for the heart of a mystery billionaire looking to settle down. According to China Smack, the anonymous businessman contacted a local matchmaking service and offered them 5 million yuan to look for the women of his dreams, in 10 cities nationwide. Just like other important bachelors we’ve featured on OC, he’s probably too busy to look for love himself.

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21st-Century Cavemen – 30 Million Chinese Live in Caves

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This title might seem a bit shocking, but considering China’s total population, 30 million really isn’t very much. Still, millions of people living in caves in this modern era is kind of strange, wouldn’t you say?

According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, millions of Chinese people have gone underground, to live in caves. So I guess calling someone a caveman in China really shouldn’t be taken as an insult, especially if you consider many of these burrowed dwellings have all the facilities of modern homes. Because they take advantage of the existing landscape, China’s cave houses don’t require too many other building materials, and since the hills and mountains they are dug into act as natural insulation all year round, they are more energy efficient than most conventional family homes.

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Photos of Chinese Students Cramming for Exams Hooked to IVs Spark Controversy

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It appears in China the saying “study till you drop” is taken quite literally by some, as photos show students receiving amino acid IV drips as they hit the books during late evening studying session for college exam.

You thought you were studying too hard? Well unless you’ve ever needed intravenous medication to keep you from passing out or collapsing due to excessive studying, you have it pretty good compared to these young students at a high school in Xiaogan, central China’s Hubei province. Photos taken late one evening, and posted on popular Chinese site Sina Weibo, show a brightly lit classroom full of students studying National College Entrance Exam, commonly known as “gao kao”. Students appear buried among piles of books, with dozens of IV bags hanging from lines traversing the classroom.

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