Conquer Your Fears in China’s Snake Village

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Nestled in the heart of a vast farmland in East China’s Zhejiang province, the small village of Zisiqiao has a pretty common look, but it hides a scary secret. The aptly names “snake village” is home to thousands of the most feared snaked species on Earth.

Snakes are a vital ingredient in Chinese medicine, and are also widely used to make soup and wine believed to increase a person’s immunity. As the number one snake village in China, Zisiqiao breeds and sells over 3 million snakes per year, to satisfy the ever-increasing demand. The 160 snake-breeding families living here now boast an annual income of several thousands yuan, and in this Year of the Snake, a significant profit increase is expected. The once poor village of Zisiqiao is now the envy of similar rural communities, with some of the larger snake farms making tens of thousands of dollars from this lucrative business. Obviously, it’s not the easiest job in the world, and most breeders admit they have been bitten several time, even by deadly snakes, but the rewards are definitely worth the risk.

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Latest Fake in China – Concrete-Filled Walnuts

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China has long had a reputation for making counterfeit goods, but the practice in recent years the practice has been getting really extreme. After news reports of fake eggs and fake beek made of pork, it seems concrete-filled walnuts are the latest invention of ingenious Chinese food counterfeiters.

There’s a set of photos making the rounds on the Internet these days, but even though they recently went viral, they were actually released a year ago. They show a bunch of normal-looking walnuts that when cracked open reveal a very hard filling – concrete pebbles. According to Ministry of Tofu, these fake walnuts were bought by a certain Mr. Li, last February, from a street vendor in Zhengzou, Henan province. When he got home and started cracking them, he noticed that instead of a meaty seed, many were actually filled with concrete pebbles wrapped in tissue. But Li’s case is not an isolated one. Apparently, many Chinese walnut vendors try to maximize their profits by carefully cracking open the hard shell, taking out the nutmeat, replacing it with concrete and tissue so it doesn’t make a strange noise, and gluing it shut. This way they can sell the nuts and the seeds separately.

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Chinese Grandma Spends All Her Life Savings Taking Care of Stray Dogs and Cats

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Grandma Bai, a 64-year-old animal lover from Chongqing, China, has spent the last 15 years taking care of stray dogs and cats, and has exhausted all her life savings in the process.

American humorists Josh Billings once said “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”, and we’ve featured a few heartbreaking stories that prove this to be right. Remember Capitan, the German Shepherd who refused to leave his owner’s grave six years after he died, or Ciccio, the faithful dog who attends the daily Mass at the church where his master used to go? I’ve written a lot of impressive stories about dogs’ loyalty and love even beyond the grave, so it’s always nice to see some humans showing them some kindness in return. Case in point, Grandma Bai, a native of Leshan, China, who has spent all her savings and the last 15 years of her life taking care of over 100 stray dogs and 30 cats. Her love for these abandoned creatures and the sacrifices she has had to make have melted the hearts of millions, since the story broke out in China.

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Chinese Boy Has Been Living and Sleeping with a Python for 13 Years

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A family from Dongguan, China, has recently made headlines after it became known that their 13-year-old son’s best friend is a 15-foot Burmese python. The predator even looks after the boy when his parents are away.

Most grownups would turn away and run for their lives at the sight of a 220lb python, but 13-year-old Azhe Liu can’t get enough of his slithering friend. Ever since he was just a few months old, the two have been sharing the same bed, and today they are simply inseparable. Six years before Azhe was born, his father, Chen Liu, found a snake egg, brought it home and hatched it out. When the boy came, the python already weighed 20 kilograms, but having a snake around the house didn’t seem to bother the family. “I’d always thought them the most beautiful creatures and I was interested to see what would happen when my son came along,” Chen says. “After a while we were certain the snake wouldn’t hurt him and we began to leave them together alone. They really are inseparable.” Azhe and his Burmese python started sharing the same bed, and when he was just 9 months old, he was left alone with it, as the parents left to work. They would play and cuddle all day long, and during the hot summer months, the snake’s cold body acted as a natural air-conditioner.

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Caramelized Sugar Painting – A Tasty Chinese Tradition

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The sweet art of painting with caramelized sugar can be witnessed in China’s Sichuan province. Although not as popular as it once was, this ancient craft still manages to amaze tourists lucky enough to stumble upon a skilled street artist.

According to experts, this type of Chinese folk art originated from the Ming Dynasty when sugar animals and figures were created as part of sacrificial rituals. During the Qing Dynasty, it gained even more popularity and the techniques were upgraded, which resulted in an increased number of patterns, most of them inspired by nature, wildlife and religion . In the beginning, people used molds to shape the caramelized sugar, but they were gradually replaced with a small bronze spoon that had to be wielded by talented artists who were usually well versed in the art of normal painting as well. “Painting” artistic pieces from melted sugar is very different than regular painting. Because the hot sugar cools down very quickly, the painter has to work swiftly, making sure he follows the correct order of strokes to get every shape just right. In order to get familiar with the process and the technique, it’s recommended that artists practice normal painting first.

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Homemade Dialysis Machine Keeps Man Alive for 13 Years

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A man from Nanjing, China, has recently made headlines after it was discovered he built his own dialysis machine, and managed to keep himself alive for 13 years, after he couldn’t afford to receive proper hospital care.

A research fro 2008, shows only one in ten Chinese people can afford regular dialysis treatment, but one man refused to give in to his illness simply because he couldn’t pay the high hospital costs. Hu Songwen was studying to become a meteorologist when he was diagnosed with renal failure, in 1993. From that point on, he was forced to visit the hospital every six days to have his blood cleaned through dialysis, a treatment that cost him around $80 per visit. He hand his family managed to support the costs for six years, until all their savings were exhausted. That’s when he decided to build his own dialysis machine, using only a textbook, kitchen equipment and medical supplies. “When I told the doctors what I was doing, they said I was crazy,” he said, but his homemade contraption has kept him alive for the last 13 years, at a fraction of the hospital costs. He spent an initial $800 on a pump, after failed attempts to make his own, and now each dialysis session costs him around $10 in filters and chemicals. “The most important part of the machine is the filter, and I can use each one eight times. A new filter costs $16, while a proper medical machine can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds” Hu said.

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Friends in Real Life – Man Opens Iconic Sitcom Cafe in Beijing

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If you were a fan of the hugely popular sitcom Friends, you surely remember their favorite meeting place, the Central Perk Cafe. Tired of just seeing the characters experience the coziness of that soft orange couch, one Chinese fan decided to create his own Friends cafe, in Beijing.

Like so many of us, Du Xin loved Friends. “I’m crazy about Friends. For me, it’s like a religion. It’s my life,” he told NPR. After watching the show, he started searching around Beijing for a place where he could actually sit on an orange couch just like the one his favorite heroes relaxed on in the sitcom. When he couldn’t find a Central Perk, he decided to create it himself. And he wasn’t going to settle for something similar, he wanted a place that looked exactly like what he’d seen on TV all those years, down to the tiniest details. Tucked away on the sixth-floor of the Chaowai Soho complex, this replica of Central Perk has the coveted couch, the same windows and doorway as the original, the brick interior and even the same hand written snack items featured on Friends. In order to nail all the things he wanted, Du studied thousands of photos of the show’s set and watched endless reruns, and five months later he had the cafe of his dreams.

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Self-Taught Ninja Slices Soda Cans with Plastic Playing Cards

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A man from China’s Hubei Province has recently become an internet celebrity of sorts, after a video of him throwing plastic playing cards at soda cans and actually putting holes in them, went viral.

Who says there’s no such thing as comic-book-like superpowers? And I’m not talking about the funny ones you can buy at the Superhero Store, but real superpowers that actually capture people’s imagination. Take 23-year-old Feng Yangxu, from Xishui county, Hubei Province, China, who can throw plain playing cards with such speed and accuracy that they slice even full aluminum cans. In a video that recently went viral on the Chinese internet, Feng wows his young audience by launching cards at hanging cucumbers and slicing them to pieces, as a warm-up for his most impressive trick – puncturing soda cans from three feet away. Now that may not seem like a big distance, but keep in mind this guy is putting wholes in metal containers with flimsy plastic cards. His fellow countrymen were so impressed with his feat that they’ve given him a cool nickname – Awesome Flying Cutter. And you thought “Batman” was a cool superhero name…

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Tianducheng – A Small Piece of Paris, Made in China

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It appears that the Chinese have tired of imitating objects, so they’ve now moved on to entire cities. How else could you explain the gated community of Tianducheng, that boasts its very own Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and European-style villas? Located near Hangzhou, the capital of the coastal Zhejiang province, the community built by real estate company Zhejiang Guangsha Co. Ltd. in 2007 is a housing development meant to attract China’s rich and powerful. The developers apparently wanted to give the wealthy Chinese a chance to enjoy European culture without actually having to travel thousands of miles.  It took five years of meticulous construction and landscaping to create the entire 19 sq. km (12 sq. mile) community.

According to Lu Xiaotian, the company’s director, “The community can house up to 10,000 people comfortably.” Apart from the obvious touristy feel, the community also provides amenities ranging from a school, a country club and a hospital. All this, in the midst of the serene surroundings of a park atmosphere. The real estate group has largely capitalized on the fact that Chinese honeymooners tend to flock to Paris, and also that French designer labels and wine are popular status symbols in major Chinese cities. So the community of Tianducheng gives residents the opportunity to sit on the steps by their very own Bassin de Latone, a cleverly done imitation of the famous fountain located in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. They can also admire the Eiffel Tower, which is a 108 m high replica of the 324 m original, in their very own neighborhood. Apart from the obvious imitations of famous monuments, there are the Parisienne-style gardens surrounded by rows and rows of European-style villas.

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Chinese Millionaire Works as a Street Cleaner to Set a Good Example for Her Kids

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Yu Youzhen, a millionaire from Wuhan City, China, has been making headlines recently, after it was discovered she works as a street cleaner, for a 1,420 yuan monthly salary, in order to set a positive example for her two children.

During the 1980s, Yu Youzhen was just an average vegetable farmer in the Hongshan District Donghu Village Huojiawan, working hard with her husband in order to save some money. After years working from dawn till dusk, they became the first family in the village to own a 3-storey house. At the time, a lot of people were coming to Wuhan looking for work, and many of them needed a place to stay, so Yu started renting the spare rooms in her home. Each room would bring about 50 yuan every month, and the resourceful woman used the extra earning to build even more houses and add more floors. After several years, she had three 5-storey buildings, most of which were rented out. Construction regulations were loose in China, and everyone was building houses, but Yu Youzhen really lucked-out when, according to the policies of requisitioning and redevelopment of land, she and her family were compensated with 21 apartments for the houses they had built in Huojiawan. She wasn’t the only one, of course, but she personally witnessed how fellow villagers squandered away their fortunes on gambling, drinking and even drug use, so she made it a goal to set a good example for her kids and act responsible.

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Chinese Farmer Builds Wind-Powered Car

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A 55-year-old Chinese farmer has come up with a unique invention that might just make him a millionaire. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen vehicles that run on alternative fuel sources, but Tang Zhengping’s invention is really something else. The car he built in three months is 1m high,  3m long and powered by wind. But the best part is this – it has the potential to reach a speed of 90mph (140kmph). This does seem too good to be true for a wind-powered vehicle, but Mr.Zhengping from Beijing, the city that hosts the largest car show in the world, has a different story to tell.

According to Mr.Zhengping, the vehicle runs on electric generators and batteries, which are recharged by the large fan spinning in the front of the vehicle. The two solar energy wings at the back also support the generation of electricity. While one set of generators and batteries are working, another two get charged. For now, the batteries need to be charged every two days and the fan and wings provide extra electricity when the car is in motion. “It goes at a maximum speed of 140kmph and lasts longer than an electric car, which usually doesn’t have generators,” says Mr.Zhengping.

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Remarkable Chinese Girl Can Write with Both Hands at the Same Time, in Different Languages

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Chen Siyuan, a young translator from Handan, China’s Hebei province, has the incredibly ability to write with both hands at the same time. Even more impressive is that fact that she can write vertically with one hand and horizontally with the other, or in two different languages.

In this age of technology, writing with both hands is not as valuable a skill as it once was, but that doesn’t make 24-year-old Chen Siyuan’s ability any less remarkable. This young English translator has been wowing onlookers with her amazing talent of writing with both hands simultaneously, in two different languages (Chinese and English). You’d be tempted to think this kind of unique capacity requires years of practice, but Chen says she discovered her ability completely by accident, during her high-school years. She was overwhelmed by the quantities of English homework, but found that she could complete respective tasks much faster by writing with both hands at the same time. “When I was in high school, I unconsciously wrote with both hands while trying to finish my homework in a hurry,” Chen told People’s Daily Online. “My classmates were curious and tried to imitate me, but none of them succeeded.”

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Pepsi-Chicken Flavor Potato Chips Hit China

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Every year, potato chip maker Lay’s launches a new flavor in China, and this time it seems like they have a real winner on their hands – pepsi-chicken, a very popular dish in the world’s most populated country.

Who new Pepsi and chicken go so well, together, right? Well, the Chinese, apparently. Chicken wings tossed into a wok and caramelized in soy sauce, spices and cola is a simple and common recipe in China, and PepsiCo. wants to capitalize on its popularity by using it as the newest flavor for Lay’s chips. It might sound more like a recipe for disaster to us westerners, but bizarre flavors aren’t exactly new to China. In years past, lays has released a range of unusual flavors, including lemon tea (subtle), cucumber (cloying) and hot-and-sour fish soup (fishy). Knowing that, I think I might find pepsi-chicken potato chips almost edible. According to AdAge, “in potato-chip form, the [pepsi-chicken] flavor is vaguely similar to barbecue with a sugary aftertaste. If there’s any hint of Pepsi, it’s fleeting and lacks fizz.”

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Strange Wedding Customs – The Crying Ritual of the Tujia People

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Throughout history, various cultures have had strange requirements of their women. But none perhaps as strange as the custom of crying before marriage, as followed in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. According to the custom, it is mandatory for a bride to cry at her own wedding, whether she likes it or not.

The crying marriage ritual was at its peak during the early 17th century and remained so until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911. It is said to have originated during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC), when historical records reveal that the princess of the Zhao State was to be married into the Yan State. At the moment of the princess’ departure, her mother is said to have cried at her feet, asking her to return home as soon as possible. This is said to be the first crying marriage ever. Although the custom is not as popular now as it used to be, there are still a large number of families that practice it with gusto. In fact, it is a necessary procedure for marriage among the Tujia people, in China’s Sichuan Province. The ritual itself is pretty simple – the bride has got to shed tears. If she doesn’t or is unable to, her neighbors will look down upon her as one of poor breeding. Worse still, she could even become the laughing stock of her village. In one extreme case, the bride was beaten by her mother for not crying at the wedding. Perhaps the girl was too happy to be free from her mother?

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Fearing a 2012 Apocalypse, Man Tries to Build His Own Ark

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No, God didn’t reveal himself to Lu Zhenghai in a vision. The man from Urumqi, China was simply afraid the rumors about the apocalypse happening in December of 2012 might be true, so he decided to follow Noah’s example and build an ark.

Scientists and researchers are going out of their way to assure people that December 21, 2012, the so-called Mayan end-date, will be just an ordinary date but many of them are simply not buying it. While some are travelling to the French village of Bugarach, said to be the only place that will survive the impending apocalypse, others are building their own survival equipment. Take Lu Zhenghai, from Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, who spent all his life savings of 1 million yuan ($160,500) on building his own ark, capable of keeping him safe in case of a disastrous flood. The vessel, designed by Lu himself, is 21.2 meters long, 15.5 meters wide, 5.6 meters high and displaces about 140 tons of water. It’s not much to look at, but Lu claims that once it’s finished, it will fulfill its purpose.

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