Neft Dashları – A Once Bustling City Built on Oil Platforms in the Caspian Sea

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People have been temporarily living on oil platforms ever since they were created, in the early 20th century, but Neft Dashlari, a giant oil platform complex in the Caspian Sea, roughly 40 miles east of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, serves as a permanent residence to around 1,000 souls. Known as the largest and oldest offshore city in the world, the Soviet-era structure was built in 1949, after engineers found vast resources of oil in the region, thousands of feet beneath the sea floor.

The original foundation consisted of pillars mounted on seven sunken ships, including Zoraster, the world’s first oil tanker. The poles were erected around a central hub, a 17,300-acre artificial island where the main oil wells were located. Between 1952 and 1958, the city grew in size to include 2,000 drilling platforms, joined by a 300-kilometer network of bridge viaducts, spread in a 30-kilometer circle.

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La Colonia Tovar – A Picturesque German Alpine Village in Venezuela

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Venezuela is one of the last places you would expect to find a picturesque German alpine village, and yet… La Colonia Tovar, also known as ‘The Germany of the Caribbean’, is conspicuous for its white houses with timbers and red roofs surrounded by flower gardens, carefully tended fields and creeks with water mills, and its hearty German cuisine of sausages and sauerkraut and large slices of black forest cake followed by a cold pint of beer.

It’s hard to imagine such a place actually exists in a South American country with a predominantly tropical climate, like Venezuela. But travel north to the state of Aragua, about 1,800 meters up in the forests of the Cordillera de la Costa, and you’ll reach this quaint little town reminiscent of alpine Germany. Founded in 1843 by a group of 300-odd immigrants from the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) of the Grand Duchy of Baden, on the eastern bank of the Rhine River, the town still maintains the original cultural imprint of this centuries-old community.

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Bar Themed After Seinfeld’s George Constanza Opens in Melbourne

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A new bar in Melbourne is dedicated entirely to the balding and temperamental Seinfeld character George Costanza. ‘George’s Bar’, located in the north-east suburb of Fitzroy, features Costanza-inspired decor, including posters and quotes. A sign outside the bar even encourages patrons to ‘Be more like George’.

The owners came up with the idea because they like Seinfeld and couldn’t get over how perfect George was as a bar theme. “I think he is probably the most suited of any of the characters,” explained co-owner Dave Barrett. “His humour is fairly dark and dry and fits in with a bar, it probably works more than any of the other characters would.”

“Also, when we were developing this new venue, one of the names we came up with was George’s, and we to some extent worked backwards on ways to market that and so to some extent that is where George Costanza came into it as well,” he added. Their marketing strategy has apparently worked – barely two weeks after opening, stories about the quirky theme have gone viral online.

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This Japanese Bookstore Only Stocks One Book at a Time

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Japanese bookseller Yoshiyuki Morioka has come up with a highly unusual concept for a bookstore – he sells one book at a time in a tiny shop located in Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury shopping district. Ever since he launched the store in May, he has stocked multiple copies of only one title per week. 

You might argue that it’s hardly a bookstore if you can’t go in and spend at least a few hours browsing through hundreds of volumes, but Morioka never intended to create a classic bookstore. It’s like a weekly ‘suggested reading’ service – you just go in and pick up the book chosen for the week, relieving yourself of the burden of choice. Morioka said he came up with the idea a store that solely focused on one book at a time after organising several book-launch events at his old bookstore.

“Before opening this bookstore in Ginza, I had been running another one in Kayabacho for 10 years,” Morioka told The Guardian. “There, I had around 200 books as stock, and used to organise several book launches per year. During such events, a lot of people visited the store for the sake of a single book. As I experienced this for some time, I started to believe that perhaps with only one book, a bookstore could be managed.” To finance the store, Morioka sold his huge collection of Japanese wartime propaganda, famous for the quirky, strong graphics.

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Cliffside Capsule Hotel in Peru Offers Stunning Views, Is Not for the Faint-of Heart

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The Nature Vive Skylodge hotel, in Cusco, Peru, is made up of three transparent capsules attached to the side of a cliff, 1,312 meters above the beautiful Sacred Valley, once the heartland of the Inca Empire. Reaching this unique hotel is an adventure in itself, but once inside the pods, thrill-seekers can enjoy a stunning view of this natural paradise.

Each of the three 24×8-foot hanging capsule suits are built from an aerospace-grade aluminum frame and weather-resistant polycarbonate. Furnished with four beds, a small dining area, and a separate bathroom, the rooms can accommodate up to eight people. The transparent walls allow visitors to enjoy an almost 360-degree view of the Sacred valley, while four ventilation ducts let in the fresh mountain air. High quality mattresses, cotton sheets, down pillows, quilts and curtains for privacy are provided to ensure your your stay is as comfortable as possible.

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The Balinese “Deaf Village” Where Everyone Knows Sign Language

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In the remote Balinese village of Bengkala every one of the 3,000-odd residents can fluently communicate in kata kolok, a centuries-old sign language, and people with speech and hearing deficiencies are always treated with respect.

That so many people would bother to learn sign language might seem strange, but there’s a good reason behind the unique tradition – the number of hearing and speech impaired in Bengkala is about 15 times higher than the world average and it’s believed to have been even higher in the past. So it’s only natural that, in time, body language took precedence over words, and villagers developed their own unique sign language which has been passed on for centuries.

The high incidence of deafness is apparently caused by the geographically-centric recessive gene DFNB3, present in the village for over seven generations. Parents with normal hearing may have a deaf child, and deaf parents are known to have children who can hear perfectly well. Either way, it seems to make no difference to the villagers, who have long learned to treat everyone the same, without any kind of discrimination.

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Would You Spend the Night at This Creepy Clown Motel?

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If you’re looking for the ultimate test of courage, spending a night at the creepy Clown Motel of Tonomah, in the middle of the Nevada Desert might just qualify as a worthy challenge. Not only is the place filled with grinning clowns, but there is also an abandoned cemetery located literally right next to the motel.

A clown-themed motel in the middle of the dessert sound a lot like the perfect setting for a classic horror flick, but the Clown Motel is actually very real. For decades, it has been catering to truckers, long-haul drivers and tourists traversing the Nevada desert, although those suffering from coulrophobia – the fear of clowns – tend to stay well away even if it means driving dozens of miles to the next town. And for good reason, considering the place is crawling with clowns.

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No Man’s Land – Kenya’s Women-Only Village

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Umoja is literally a no man’s land in Kenya – a matriarchal refuge where men are not allowed. The village, founded 25 years ago by Rebecca Lolosoli, is meant to be a safe haven for women and girls who want to escape abuse in the otherwise patriarchal society of the Samburu people, in northern Kenya.

Rebecca, a member of the Samburu tribe, now serves as the chief matriarch of ‘Umoja Usau Women’s Village’. Having witnessed occasional violence as a child, she slowly came to the conclusion that some of the traditional Samburu practices were inherently abusive towards women. So she began to speak out against these practices, in favour of widows, orphans, and victims of rape, female genital cutting, and forced marriage.

Rebecca’s outspoken attitude was met with a lot of resistance. Things got out of hand when she spoke up for a few women who were raped by British soldiers training nearby. Men in her village beat her up, and her husband did not protest on her behalf. So in 1990, she led a female exodus and started her own village.

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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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Awesome DC Comics-Themed Cafes in Malaysia Have Superheroes on the Menu

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JT Network, a company that owns a chain of licensed DC Comics retail stores across Asia, has now ventured into the restaurant business. They’ve opened two new superhero-themed cafes in Malaysia which cater to comic-book fans in the country. A third ‘DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe’ is all set to open in Singapore on September 1.

“Fly, zoom or swoosh down to the DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe – yes, the official DC Comics cafe!” reads the description on Malaysia’s restaurant search website Offpeak. “Dine-in or chill out in our universe, surrounded by the awesome ambience that is home to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and other members of the Justice League.”

Every dish on the menu at these theme cafes has a popular DC Comics character’s name attached to it. Some of the treats include the Aquaman Justice Jumbo Prawn Cocktail, the Superman of Steel BBQ Chicken Burrito, and the Dark Knight Mini Wagyu Beef Burger – a black bun treat emblazoned with the iconic Batman logo.

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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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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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Walter’s Coffee Roastery – A Breaking Bad-Themed Cafe in Istanbul

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If Breaking Bad’s Walter White ever decided to go into the coffee business and open his own cafe, it would probably look a lot like the awesome ‘Walter’s Coffee Roastery’, in Istanbul.

Inspired by the popular TV show Breaking Bad, Deniz Kosan, a young Turkish entrepreneur, has opened the “world’s first Coffee Super Lab.” Everything inside this unique cafe, right from the roasting equipment to the beaker-like espresso cups or the giant periodic table covering one of the walls reminds you of Walter White and his meth lab. The staff often don yellow hazardous materials suits and the menu features plenty of Breaking bad references, like pancakes with Walter White’s face powdered on them or Blue Sky-decorated cupcakes.

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Eccentric Man Builds Giant “Chicken Church” in the Middle of Indonesian Jungle

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Buried deep inside the Indonesian jungle is a very odd structure, shaped like a giant chicken. The long abandoned construction, locally known as Gereja Ayam (Chicken Church), is a popular tourist attraction in the hills of Magelang, Central Java.

Word on the internet is this strange construction was designed to be a church, but according to its creator, the building is neither a chicken nor a church. Daniel Alamsjah, 67, revealed that he was working in Jakarta when he suddenly received a divine message from God to build a prayer room in the form of a dove. “Perhaps because of my Christian faith, people thought I was building a church,” he said. “But it’s not a church. I was building a prayer house, a place for people who believe in God.”

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Down Cafe – A Turkish Cafe That Only Employs Workers with Down Syndrome

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A café in Istanbul is making headlines for exclusively hiring people with Down syndrome. The aptly named ‘Down Café’ employs staff between the ages of 18 and 25, and aims to empower them with self-confidence and independence.

Saruhan Singen, who founded the café in the Sisli district of Istanbul, said that he was inspired by his own experience of raising a daughter with Down syndrome. She now works at the café as well. “I have Sezil and I think she is a gift to me  to understand others like her,” Singen said. “When we think about the number of people with Down syndrome, there is not a wide range of career paths available.”

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