World’s Only Public Diamond Mine Lets You Keep What You Find

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The Crater of Diamonds State Park, in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, is the world’s only diamond mine open to the public. Visitors get to go on a real-life treasure hunt and keep whatever they find!

According to park officials, over 600 diamonds of various colors and grades are found by visitors each year. Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed since the mine was discovered in 1906 – 19,000 of them since the mine became a state park in 1972.

Scientists believe that these diamonds were formed three billion years ago in the earth’s mantle, 60 to 100 miles below the earth’s surface. The precious rocks were brought up to the surface about 100 million years ago, by a rising column of magma. A huge volcanic eruption resulted in an 80-acer crater, filled with fragments of mantle rock that contained diamonds. Over the years, the rocks have eroded, leaving the diamonds and other semi-precious gems loose in the soil.

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The Petrifying Well of Knaresborough Turns Objects into Stone

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Located on the banks of the river Nidd, near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, is a mystical well that converts objects to stone. Any object touched by the well’s dripping waters – leaves, sticks, dead birds, and more – naturally turn to stone within a few months!

For many centuries, locals believed that the Petrifying Well was cursed by the devil – a myth fueled by the fact that the side of the well looks like a giant’s skull. They constantly lived with the fear that if they touched the well’s water, they would be turned to stone too.

A few adventurous people left everyday objects near the waterfall, only to witness the transformation occur over weeks. Some of these relics can be spotted even today, like a Victorian top hat and a lady’s bonnet from the 1800s – both converted to solid stone. More recently, people have left teddy bears, kettles, and even a bicycle in the petrifying well, with similar results.

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There Is a “Crappy” Poop-Themed Cafe in South Korea

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Believe it or not, there’s a cafe in Seoul, South Korea that has poop as its central theme. From the outside, Poop Cafe looks perfectly normal but when it comes to service, everything comes with a toilet twist.

Coffee and tea, for instance, are served in adorable little toilet bowl-shaped cups. The foam art on the lattes are poop-shaped, as are the throw pillows and cushions that decorate the shop. Poop shaped scones are served with jam in a toilet bowl and the cups have cute poop faces on them too.

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Norwegian Wildlife Park Lets Visitors Get Up-Close and Personal with Majestic Wolves

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Situated in Salangsdalen, Norway’s Troms county, Polar Park has a diverse population of wild animals, including foxes, reindeer, wolverines, wolves, lynx, elk, musk, and bears. But the most popular attraction is the Wolf Camp, a facility set up with the goal of ensuring a better life for wolves in captivity. It also provides visitors with the unique opportunity up-close and personal with the beautiful creatures.

So how is it that these ferocious wolves are able to accept human company with such ease? Well, it turns out that in the wild, wolves are actually afraid of humans – so they lash out under stress. But the animals at Polar Park were raised to enjoy the company of humans, so they feel calm around visitors. Known as the ‘Salangen wolf pack’, these are the first wolves in Norway that is socialized with humans. That means they actually enjoy our presence as part of their environment and will even come up to visitors to cuddle with them a or lick their faces.

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Abandoned Chinese Village Reclaimed by Nature Becomes Tourist Attraction

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It really doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to reclaim her territory, slowly obliterating all signs of human occupation, if we only allow it. Case in point is the abandoned Chinese village of Houtou Wan which, within a span of 50 years, has become a beautiful secret garden completely covered in lush vegetation.  

Houtou Wan village is located on one of the 394 Shengsi Islands of China’s Yangtze River. It used to be a thriving fishing town a few decades ago, but it was gradually abandoned as the number of fishing vessels outgrew the size of the bay and the population was forced to relocate. All but a handful of villagers left Hotou Wan in the last half century, leaving nature to work her magic on the settlement. The result is nothing short of breathtaking.

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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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No Girls Allowed – The Greek State That Forbids Both Human and Animal Females

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Mount Athos, formally known as Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, is located on the Greek peninsula of Halkidiki. The monastic traditions of the mountain date back to 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.

Although technically part of the European Union, the Holy Mountain is largely self-governed. This prohibits the free movement of people and goods in its territory, unless formal permission has been granted. As a result, a number of traditions at Mount Athos might seem odd to people outside. The keeping of Byzantine time, for instance, means that their day begins at sunset. But perhaps their most bizarre practice is the centuries-old ban on women entering the sacred peninsula.

For over 1,000 years, women have been forbidden from setting foot on the mountain. In fact, females of other species such as cows, dogs and goats aren’t permitted either. Only birds and insects are exempted from the rule – scanning the skies and grounds for female body parts would surely be too absurd, even by Mount Athos standards.

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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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Welcome to Ifrane, Africa’s Little Switzerland

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Ifrane is a small town and ski resort in Morocco, famous for its European style and its similarity to the tourist haven of Switzerland. Developed by the French in the 1930s, Ifrane is so reminiscent of the Swiss Alps that it is fondly referred to as ‘Africa’s Little Switzerland’.

The town is located at an altitude of 5,460 feet above sea level in the Middle Atlas region. Its neat red-roofed houses, blooming flower beds, lake-studded parks, and snowbound winters present a huge contrast to Morocco’s narrow, maze like streets and old, earth-colored buildings. It is truly a wonder that such lush greenery, cedar and oak forests, and pasturelands can even exist in the midst of the hot and dry climate of the region.

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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.



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.



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.



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.



Share a Coffee with Snakes and Scorpions at Vietnam’s Popular Pet Cafe

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If you love dogs, cats and cute, cuddly bunnies, then Vietnam’s Pet Café is certainly not the place for you. It exists to serve a totally different kind of animal lover. Located in the capital city of Hanoi, the café has an awesome collection of snakes, rats, lizards, tarantulas and even a few hedgehogs, stored in glass cages of various sizes. As you sit at your table and share a coffee with a friend, you can gaze upon these slow-moving reptiles in replicas of their natural habitats. And if you’re feeling a little brave, you could even ask to touch or play with them.

28-year-old Nguyen Minh Nghia, the owner of Pet Café, has a degree in mining and geology, but is now a stockbroker. He has been obsessed with animals since childhood, and that’s what prompted him to start the café. “I loved animals since I was a little boy. I began raising reptiles 5 years ago, when a friend asked me to feed his salamanders as he was too preoccupied with his own business,” Nguyen said.

He fell in love with the creatures and ended up traveling to Thailand, Singapore, Australia and China, amassing a huge collection of snakes, salamanders and other reptiles that are now his best friends. “These pets are easy to feed, but for beginners, it is not a walk in the park,” he said. “You have to read a lot of materials to learn how to raise reptiles. I’ve chosen reptiles that are suited for the environment and climate in Vietnam. To keep them alive here, I’ve got to study a lot about their living environment. My café is always dark because many reptiles do not like the light.”



Takeda Castle Ruins – Japan’s Breathtaking Castle in the Sky

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If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, then you’re probably familiar with Durmstrang Institute – a perfectly hidden school in the mountains for dark witches and wizards. If this school were to exist in real life, I think I’ve found the perfect place for it – Japan’s Takeda Castle. This spectacular castle is located in Hyogo Prefecture in the Wadayamacho district of Asago. It was constructed centuries ago on the summit of a 1000 foot high mountain. Today, the ruins of the castle run a quarter of a mile long and over 300 foot wide.

Takeda Castle is special because of the breathtaking view it presents on autumn mornings (between sunrise and 8 am). That’s when a thick mist hangs over the sky because of a sharp drop in overnight temperatures. The effect created by the mist is truly breathtaking – like a castle in the sky, floating on clouds. The entire site is often referred to as Japan’s Machu Picchu, after the majestic mountain ruins of Peru. The castle, in all its beauty and ancient glory, attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The number of visitors began to grow after the site was featured in a 2012 Japanese film called ‘Anata e’.



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