China’s Best Mao Zedong Impersonator Is Actually a Woman

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57-year-old Chen Yan used to be an average, run-of-the-mill homemaker. The only noticeable thing about her: her striking resemblance to Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong. Chen was teased mercilessly for this as a child, reducing her to tears. But in 2006 she made a decision that would completely change her life –  to embrace herself and her appearance. Chen is now a full time Mao impersonator, an extremely popular one.

Impersonating Chairman Mao isn’t exactly a piece of cake. It’s a demanding and controversial job, because female impersonators of Mao aren’t very common in China. To look the part, Chen has to touch up her face, wear a Zhongshan suit and arrange her hair like Mao’s trademark style. She has to walk on specially made 26cm stilts, camouflaged to look like a larger shoe size. A typical performance is about 40 minutes long – Chen waves to the crowds, smokes and stares solemnly into the distance. I must say, she does a damn good job of it. It’s almost impossible to tell there’s a woman behind the costume.

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Rooftop Agriculture – Chinese Farmer Turns House Roof into Fertile Farmland

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The curious case of the Chinese Rooftop strikes again!

First, there was the eccentric businessman who built a mountain-villa on the roof of a Beijing apartment building. Then there was that mysterious temple built on a Chinese skyscraper. Now we have the story of farmer Peng Quigen and his one-of-a-kind ‘sky-farm’. For several years, he has been growing rice, fruits and vegetables on the roof of his four-storey home in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, 40 feet above the ground.

Peng’s sky-farm is no hobby. What he has done with just 120-square-meters of rooftop is pretty remarkable. He’s actually managing to yield large quantities of produce from this small, yet fertile, patch. Just last year, Peng harvested nearly 400 kilograms of watermelon, which is a whopping 30 percent higher than ground-level yield. This year he’s trying out rice – he says that in spite of the negative impact of typhoon ‘Fitow’, he’s expecting to harvest enough rice to feed one adult for one whole year.

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Nothing Says “I Love You” Like Cold Hard Cash – Chinese Man Offers Baskets Full of Money as Engagement Gift

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A wealthy Chinese suitor has attracted accusations that he is buying a wife rather than marrying one, after he gave his future bride 18 baskets full of money, as an engagement present. According to Chinese media, the baskets were stacked with 8.88 million Chinese yuan ($1.45 million) and weighed over 102 kilograms.

When it comes to romance, nothing says “I love you” like stacks of beautifully-decorated money. At least that’s what Meng Huang, the son of a rich construction magnate in China, seems to think. The 27-year-old filled 18 traditional gift baskets with cash and employed 18 people to deliver them to his bride-to-be’s home, as a token of his love for her. “This is how we do things here,” Huang said. “She is worth the whole world to me and I wanted to prove that with a world gift of cash”. The eccentric gift arrived at its destination in a fleet of luxury vehicles lead by a Maserati sports car, where it was gladly accepted by the bride’s family. The stacks of red 100 yuan bills depicting Communist founding father, Mao Zedong, were decorated with red ribbons and neatly arranged in the gift baskets for everyone to see. The sum, 8.88 million yuan was obviously not accidental, but carefully chosen, as the word for “eight” is linked with the meaning “wealth” in Chinese.

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Chinese Man Walks in Iron Shoes Weighing 405 Kilograms

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Heavy footwear is usually considered uncomfortable, but for Zhang Fuxing weight is definitely not a problem. The 51-year-old from Tangshan, China, spends every morning walking in a pair of iron shoes weighing 405 kilograms.

For over seven years, Zhang Fuxing has spent his morning exercising on a pair of impossible shoes made of heavy iron blocks. The factory worker designed and created the bizarre footwear himself by welding pieces of iron 30-cm-long and 20-cm-wide. At first, the shoes weighed only 70 kilograms, but as his workout intensified he kept adding more weight. Now his shoes are 40-cm-high and weigh a whopping 405 kg, about seven times his own body weight. It seems impossible that a person could even lift their feet off the ground wearing such weights, but Zhang says he usually manages to walk around a dozen meters in 20 minutes, every morning. He keeps the unusual shoes in his courtyard and says they are so heavy he isn’t even worried they might be stolen.

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Recycling Done Wrong – Chinese Turn Sewer Sludge into Cooking Oil

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According to foodies, traditional cuisine is among the best things China has to offer. The Chinese food prepared and sold on the streets is not only delicious, but it’s also a big part of the cityscape. The problem is that some street vendors and even restaurants have taken recycling too far by using gutter oil – yes, gutter oil - as cooking oil. This practice  has nothing to do with being eco-friendly, but rather with the Chinese food black market, where gutter oil is presented as a cost-friendly solution for small businesses.

Why is it called “gutter oil”, you ask? Well, sadly enough, the name is not a metaphor, but it merely describes the source of the oil used illegally in the food market. The process of turning sewer sludge into cooking oil is quite simple and disgusting: after draining sewers, trash bins, gutters and anything that may contain cooking oil and animal parts, the content is boiled and then filtered. As expected, the final product is not only unhealthy (and gross!), but it can be fatal in some cases, as it contains carcinogens and other dangerous toxins. Recycling oil is not a novelty in the food industry, where cooking oil is re-used after refining  and purifying it, but in most cases the origin of the oil is clearly not the gutter.

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Chinese Tuner Turns BMW Z4 into a Golden Dragon on Wheels

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The BMW Z4 is a sleek, modern and luxurious car, famous for its incredible raw power. But not this particular Z4 from China which was transformed into a golden dragon on wheels by some overly-traditional tuners. Golden boy here features dragon wings, a tail, claws, wings as well as some other over-the-top accessories sculpted out of yak bones.

As if painting a BMW gold wasn’t bad enough, the people responsible for this extreme tuning job decided it would be a good idea to give it that traditional Chinese dragon look by decorating it with various body parts sculpted out of yak boned. The front of the car features a dragon’s snout complete with two eyes and its characteristic whiskers. The beast’s claws rest above the huge gold rims and the car’s butterfly doors have been transformed into feathered wings. At the back, the dragon’s scaly tail rests on the BMW’s trunk. The masterpiece has been exhibited at the China Import and Export fair in the southern Guangdong province, where it managed to turn quite a few heads. While it is not our cup of tea, we can appreciate the painstaking work that must have gone into carving all those scales from yak bone. We can only hope that next time, the makers of the Dragon BMW will decide to utilize their skills in creating something less tacky.

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Edible Architecture – The Creative Food Towers That Destroyed Salad Bars in China

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If you could only make one trip to the salad bar, how would you go about carrying as much food as possible in one go? To deal with this predicament, some ambitious Chinese foodies invented “salad stacking” – the art of stacking vegetables, fruits and croutons on a single plate in order to create extremely tall and elaborate salad towers.

This fad began when Pizza Hut restaurants in China introduced salad bars serving veggies and fruits to promote healthy eating. When the buffets opened, customers were given a one trip opportunity to fill their plates with as much food as they could. Seeing as they couldn’t go back for seconds, hungry patrons decided to utilize the small plates they were given to their full potential and started piling up their food with so much care and precision that complex structured meals were born.

The fad became very popular on the internet where enthusiastic “salad engineers” posted pictures of their monster creations and even exchanged techniques for making the tallest towers. According to most of them, the trick is to build a stable and straight base and cover it with carrot sticks glued together with salad dressing so that it can hold the actual salad “structure”. All kinds of goodies can go on top – melon slices, peaches, cucumbers, croutons, oranges etc., depending on preference. These must be placed in such a way that the pieces interlock and create a mesh. The entire thing can be topped with a bit of salad dressing and smaller foods for decorative purposes.

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China’s Bizarre Pet Craze – Puppies Painted with Toxic Varnish to Make Them Look Like Unique Breeds

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In 2010, the Year of the Tiger,  a series of pictures showing orange puppies with black stripes caused controversy in China after they were posted online. Hoping to make a profit off them, some vendors had started selling striped dogs under the false pretense that they were a new breed.  At the time, everybody questioned the authenticity of those photos, not knowing if they were photoshopped, if the puppies where genetically altered or simply painted, but now everyone knows the truth. These are “one week puppies” a name that hints at their short life expectancy due to the toxicity of the varnish they are painted with. Believe it or not, they are still very popular in China.

It seems making your canine companion look like other animals using toxic varnish has become very popular in China. Pandas and tigers are especially sought after and dogs resembling these animals have been showing up in every city. “I have seen this kind of dog more than once in China, once in ZhuHai last fall and then in the city of Guangzhou. Both times the dogs were for sale from a street vendor, they were not all the same color, but they were all striped. The only thing I can think is that the stripes are spray painted on,” a woman wrote on a forum. The coloring process used in the case of the “Bengal dogs” (tiger-skinned dogs) must have required some powerful chemicals as the people curious enough to buy a striped individual reported that the dog was very ill. “I recently bought one of these dogs in Beijing China,” another person wrote . “I got it home and it was very dehydrated. I took it to the vet today and they confirmed that its hair had been dyed. It is a black dog, that gets to be about medium size. They dye the orange part, that’s why the orange is never around the eyes, or nose, and the stripes are so uniform. The vet stated that the dye would wear off in about 2 months, and that the dog would be healthy unless we continued to dye the dog,” he detailed.

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Snoopybabe, the Cute Flat-Faced Cat Taking the Chinese Internet by Storm

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Do you think mastering social media is hard? Apparently, it’s so easy even a cat can do it. Snoopybabe is China’s new internet sensation with 275,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter and 190,000 fans on Instagram.  Hailing from the Sichuan Province, Snoopybabe, an American short-hair and Persian crossbreed, has taken the Chinese interwebs by storm with his cute short snout, innocent brown eyes and charming outfits.

His owner, Miss Ning started posting pictures of Snoopybabe a while back to show him off to her friends. She did not expect the huge attention the two-year old cat attracted. As she posted more videos and pictures of him in different poses and dressed in colorful clothing accessorized with elegant neck pieces, his popularity grew exponentially. He soon reached the same popularity level as already well-established felines such as Tardar Sauce aka Grumpy Cat or Maru. These adorable kitties have become irresistible even to big cat food companies such as Friskies which named Grumpy as their spokescat this month.

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Chinese Zoo Visitors Play Tug of War with Tigers Using Live Chickens

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Who would win in a fight between a man and a tiger? What about a man, a tiger and a chicken? The elusive question has now been answered thanks to some curious visitors of the Changsha Ecological Zoo who played tug of war with caged tigers using live chickens.

According to the zoo staff, when lying around with nothing to do and having food served to them, zoo animals often become lazy, overweight and even lose interest in any kind of physical or intellectual stimulation. They came up with a very interesting but controversial way of keeping the animals in shape through tug of war games. The game is as simple as it gets: the visitors pull at one end of a rope and at the other, the tiger bites and pulls at a hessian bag with a live chicken inside. The chicken is an added bonus meant to engage the tiger’s interest and keep him on his toes. Apart from training the animals, the game was designed as a mean of entertainment for the upcoming National Day Holiday. For 45 yuan ($7), anyone can play and it seems there are many courageous folks willing to measure their strength against the powerful beasts. So far, the tigers are in the lead, winning most of the tug of war games, with one 4 year old Siberian tiger demonstrating his muscle superiority by tackling 7 men at the same time.

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Chinese Car-Accident Victim Has New Nose Grown on His Forehead

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Meet 22-year-old Xiaolian. He is not wearing some bizarre special effects makeup, that is actually a real nose growing on his forehead. As strange as it looks, this is apparently a pretty common nose reconstruction technique.

No too long ago, Xiaolian was involved in a car accident that damaged his nose. After he refused medical treatment, the wound became infected and in a few months time the bacteria had corroded the cartilage of the nose, making it impossible for doctors to save. But since we’re living in an age where medical miracles are possible, they decided to remove the infected tissue and grow the young man a new nose. This was done by by placing a skin tissue expander onto Xiaolian’s forehead, cutting it into the shape of a nose and planting a cartilage taken from his ribs. It’s taken Chinese doctors in Fuzhou, Fujian province, nine months to grow the nose, but it was worth it, because the organ developed perfectly and it’s almost ready to be shifted in it the place of Xiaolian’s original nose.

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Beijing’s Haunted Mansion: Chinese Shun Expensive Beijing Property for Fear of Ghosts

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The beautiful three-story French Baroque-style house at Chaonei No. 81 is a well-known anomaly of Beijing. Small courtyard properties in this area of China’s capital city sell for millions of dollars, and yet this once lavish mansion lies in a state of decay. The reason no one will go near it? Fear of ghosts and death.

Local legend has it this amazing mansion was built by the Qing imperial family as a church for British residents of Beijing. In 1949, when the Communists had just defeated the Nationalists and were making their way into the city, the high-ranking Kuomintang official living in the house at the time abandoned his wife, leaving her to face the Communists all by her safe. Devastated, she allegedly hung herself from the rafters of their impressive home. Many believe her troubled spirit has been haunting the place ever since, and few dare venture inside by themselves, especially during the night. The once luxurious mansion is now a dilapidated shadow of its former self, covered with graffiti warning daredevils to stay away and full of empty alcohol bottles and cigarette buts. Despite its location in the center of Beijing, where prices for small properties are in the millions, there are currently no plans to do anything with this particular building. Ghost stories keep potential tenants away, and the building is now on a historic preservation list so it can’t be torn down, just renovated. So everyone seems to be waiting for it crumble on its own.

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Real-Life Escape-the-Room Games Gaining Popularity in China

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Have you ever fantasized about starring in a real-life Saw-like scenario where you’re forced to look for clues in order to escape a locked windowless room before time runs out? Apparently many Chinese have, as more and more of them flock to various real-life room-escape game locations across the country.

Inspired by a computer game called “Takagism”, in which players had to find a way out of virtual locked room by searching their surroundings and manipulate objects in search for clues, real-life escape-the-room games have rally taken off in China during the last few months. A team of players is locked in a maze of dark, eerie rooms and have to work together in order to find clues to help them escape before the allotted times runs out. They are not allowed to use smartphones or any kind of gadgets or books to solve the rooms’ puzzles and must rely solely on their knowledge and skills to beat all challenges. Real Takagism club operators say teamwork, a good leader and the ability to keep calm and focused under pressure are key to escaping the locked rooms within the time limit, but the puzzles can be really tough and only the best succeed. For example, at Freeing Hong Kong, an escape game location in Hong Kong, only one in five teams make it out of the rooms before their time runs out.

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Smog-Covered Hong Kong Installs Clear Skyline Banners for Vacation Photos

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Hong Kong has one of the world’s most stunning skylines. The problem is it’s becoming barely visible behind the dense curtain of smog that has engulfed several of the city’s districts, and even harder to capture in vacation photos. Unable to fix the air pollution problem, tourism authorities have instead decided to install clear skyline banners where tourists can have their pictures taken.

This week, Hing Kong’s Air Pollution Index reached “very high” levels in Central and Western District, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with very high concentrations of toxic ozone and nitrogen dioxide recorded by local monitoring stations. Apart from the obvious health-related issues, the heavy smoke covering the island city is also hurting the local tourism business. According to Chinese newspaper China Daily, the frequent air pollution has contributed greatly to the decline in tourist numbers, with a recent survey revealing a rise in “complaints focused on the environment at scenic spots” around China. After all, what good is a city’s magnificent skyline if you can barely see it? Luckily, Hong Kong authorities have come up with a novel solution to this problem – they installed a number of panoramic banners displaying a clear view of the city at various scenic spots. Here, people can take smog-free photos of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, to have as souvenirs.

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Closer to Heaven – A Temple Built on the Rooftop of a Chinese Skyscraper

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Architectural wonders erected on the rooftops of skyscrapers seems to be the latest constructions trend in China. Just days after the scandal involving a mountain villa built on the roof of a Beijing apartment building, a microblogger from Shenzen discovered a traditional private temple located atop a similar residential building.

According to several Chinese media reports, the mysterious temple constructed on the roof of a 21-storey luxury apartment building in the Nanfang district of Shenzen has been around for at least three years, yet nobody, not even the tenants know who it belongs to. The rooftop structure is surrounded by foliage, has glazed golden tiles and features traditional upturned eaves decorated with carvings of dragons and phoenixes. A fingerprint scanner, security cameras and dogs barking on the other side of a locked door prevent access to the temple, but neighbors say it’s often used for traditional Chinese religious practices, as indicated by the ashes of burned offerings that float down from the roof. The private temple, suspected to be yet another illegal rooftop structure, jeopardizes the structural integrity of the entire building, but tenants say their complaints have so far landed on dead ears.

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