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The Incredible Taung Kalat Monastery

Built atop an extinct volcano plug, the Buddhist monastery of Taung Kalat is one of the most breathtaking sites in Burma and the world.

Many people call the hill on which the monastery was built, Mount Popa, but they’re mistaking it with the much higher volcano, close by. The hill is called Taung Kalat and though it looks like a mere bump when compared to Mount Popa, climbing it is quite a task. There are seven hundred seventy seven steps to from the bottom, all the way to the Buddhist monastery.

The locals believe Nats (37 demigod-like beings) live inside Taung Kalat hill and judging by the heavenly views from up there, they just might be right.

Climbing up Taung Kalat, you’re bound to run into some adorable Macaques, but be careful, they’re wild creatures and are likely to snatch anything you lay on the ground, before you even have the chance to blink.

Taung Kalat Monastery and its surroundings are truly unique, but unless the Burmese government intervenes soon, they will degrade beyond recovery.

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The Amazing Seashell Temple in Taiwan

In the hills near San Chih, northern Taiwan, lies the Seashell Temple, one of the most amazing architectural works in the world.

I’m sure many of you have seen photos of it before, it’s almost on every spam photo site on the internet, sometimes listed as being in Bagkok or Taiwan, but I thought it deserved a spot among the oddities on Oddity Central.Almost completely covered with seashells and pieces of coral, Pei Khe Miao (as its known by the Chinese) takes your breath away the minute you lay eyes on it.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of genuine information concerning the Seashell Temple and I don’t want to make stuff up, so for now you’ll just have to settle for some photos and a video.

Photos via Awesome Asia

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Berkeley Pit – A Toxic Tourist Attraction

That’s right, Berkeley Pit is one of the few places in the world where you have to pay to look at a giant pool of toxic waste.

Located in Butte, Montana, Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mind turned weird tourist attraction. It’s one mile long over half a mile wide and 1780 feet deep, 900 of which are full of extremely toxic water. On the surface, the poison looks a lot like blood and is so saturated with copper, miners were able to harvest the metal directly from the water. From 13 million gallons of water, 400,000 pounds of copper were produced.

The acidic water includes chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, zinc or sulfuric acid and, if you were to drink some, it would corrode through your digestive system before getting a chance to poison you. In 1995 a flock of migrating geese landed on Berkeley Pit and never took flight again. A total of 342 carcasses were recovered. Since the incident a bird watch program was implemented.

But, interestingly enough, good things can come out of toxic waste. Scientists have discovered new types of bacteria that have adapted to the harsh conditions of Berkeley Pit, by producing highly toxic compounds that improve survivability. These chemicals have proven very resilient to cancer and further research is currently ongoing.

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The Ideal Palace

Le Palais Ideal is one of the most popular examples of naive art architecture, built by Ferdinand Cheval, a French Postman, over a period of 33 years.

Cheval began building his Ideal Palace in April 1879. While he was on the job, the postman tripped over a stone and was impressed by its unusual shape. Inspired by the stone, he returned the following day and started gathering more rocks and putting them in his pockets. Over time he began carrying them in baskets and then, in a wheelbarrow.

With no architectural skills whatsoever, Ferdinand Cheval managed to build his Ideal Palace, combining several styles and using the Bible and Hingu mythology as inspiration. He spent 20 years on the outer walls alone, binding the stones together with lime, mortar and cement and decorating them with all sorts of chapel and temple models.

Cheval wanted to be buried in his Palais Ideal, but French law didn’t allow it. So he spent the last years of his life building himself an intricate mausoleum, in the cemetery of Hauterives. His palace was recognized as a masterpiece and is now a cultural landmark and one of France’s popular tourist attractions.

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The Marble Caves of Rio Tranquilo

Located in the Coyhaique province, Chile, the Marble Caves are some of the most impressive attractions of Patagonia.

Las Cavernas de Marmol, as the Spanish call them were created by the clear waters of Rio Tranquilo that dug into a giant limestone peninsula, creating an impressive labyrinth of caves. The peninsula is known as the Marble Cathedral and can be reached by boat, during a guided tour.

Marble-Caves

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Ball’s Pyramid – Mountain in the Ocean

Located 20 km southeast of Lord Howe Island, in the Pacific Ocean, Ball’s Pyramid rises 562 meters above the waters.

Ball’s Pyramid is all that remains from a shield volcano that was formed 7 million years ago and is the tallest volcanic stack in the world. It was discovered in 1788, by Lieutenant Henry Ball, but no one was able to climb to its summit until 1965.  In 1982 climbing was banned and soon after all access to the island was restricted. Nowadays, the policy has changed and climbing is allowed, but only under strict conditions.

In 2001 researchers found a small population of Lord Howe Island stick insects, a species thought to have been eradicated by the black rats that were introduced on Howe Island. The 24 rare inhabitants found on Ball’s Pyramid are now being bred in captivity, in hopes of reviving the species.

Photos via Snegopad

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Jellyfish lake

Before you go laying the “this is photoshoped” line on me, do a little search on the web and convince yourself it is real. It’s actually one of the most well-known diving places in the world, set in Palau. Actually if any of you watched Survivor Palau, you might remember this as one of the sights.

Jellyfish Lake was once connected to the waters of the Pacific ocean, but is now completely isolated. The large population of jellyfish living here was believed to be missing those stinging cells, also known as nemastocysts, but it turns out they do have them, only they’re really tiny. That’s why it’s perfectly ok for people to swim so close to the jellyfish, our tissue doesn’t feel the sting.

This is definitely one of the “must-go before I die” places, right up there with Devil’s Pool and Morning Glory Pool!

Photo: tata_aka_T/Flickr

Photo: Shinji/Flickr

 

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