Vladimir Putin Museum Opens in Russia

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No, you didn’t misread the title, a museum centered on Russia’s controversial president prime minister has been set up in Strelna, near Sankt Petersburg.

Apparently, this small museum dedicated to Vladimir Putin is set up on one of the upper floors of Lindstrom Villa, an iconic structure that hosted the 2006 G-8 summit. The villa was leased to Konstaninovsky Co., owned by Oleg Rudnov, the boss of most of Sankt Petersburg’s media outlets, and a close friend of Putin. In return, Rudnov decided to turn one of the villa floors into a museum honoring Russia’s former president and current prime minister.

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Chernobyl Nuclear Plant to Become Official Tourist Attraction

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The Ukrainian government has announced the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site will be included in a full scale tourist program.

I know it sounds weird, but tourists have been visiting Chernobyl through unofficial tourism programs, for several years. Authorities are just trying to make things official, so they can actually cash out on the interest people have in the famous contaminated zone. Oddly enough, the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency will be in charge of operating tours, and although they guarantee every measure will be taken to insure tourists’ safety, Chernobyl isn’t really as safe as they’ll have you think.

On April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 of the local nuclear power station exploded, causing the greatest nuclear disaster in the history of mankind (not counting the ones caused by US nuclear bombs in Japan). A perimeter of 30 miles around the epicenter was closed up to the public, to prevent radioactive contamination, maintained by thousands of technicians, to reduce exposure to radiation. While the catastrophe happened almost a quarter of a century ago, the area around the power station is still very dangerous, especially since the remaining three nuclear reactors have not been shut down, and the shield placed over reactor 4 has been steadily deteriorating, under pressure from within. A new, improved “sarcophagus”, big enough to cover the Statue of Liberty and weighing 20,000 tons, will be ready in 2012.

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Dordoy – The Shipping Container Bazaar of Kyrgyzstan

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One of Asia’s largest shopping centers, the Dordoy Bazaar consists of around 7,000 shipping containers, which makes it a monument to repurposing.

Located near the city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Dordoy Bazaar is one of the main entrepots through which Chinese goods make their way to markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It was inaugurated in 1992, and as wholesale markets across the country began to plummet, the bazaar’s popularity kept rising transforming it in the monument of raw commerce it is today.

Dordoy Bazaar stretches for about a kilometer, on the north-eastern outskirts of Bishkek, and features all kinds of goods, from Chinese and Turkish knock-offs to Russian music CDs, all off them stocked in the thousands of stacked shipping containers that serve as shops and storage space. Practically, the entire bazaar is built out of shipping containers organized in rows to form streets and plazas of sort. A 2005 newspaper report stated there were between 6,000 and 7,000 containers in Dordoy Bazaar, and their numbers probably went up considerably, since then.

The few buildings in Dordoy Bazaar that aren’t made of containers serve as administrative offices, hotels and toilets.

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Only in Japan – Love Doll Brothels Are Bustling

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Some people tend to compare Japanese Love Dolls with regular western sex dolls, but in reality, they are on a whole other level. Believe it or not, people actually pay big money to sleep with a doll, at the bustling love doll brothels across Japan.

The first Japanese love dolls were created 30 years ago, so that people with disabilities could enjoy some female companionship, but they quickly became an alternative for healthy men simply to shy to enjoy sleeping with real women. A lot of Japanese men are obsessed with anime and manga girls, and these realistic love dolls gave them the chance to actually fulfill their fantasies of spending some time with their favorite characters. Some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying dozens of high-end love dolls, made of silicon, and feel much more comfortable in their presence than they would in that of a real woman. They don’t nag, they never complain and they don’t cheat.

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Taiwanese Brothel Is Being Re-opened as a Museum

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What was once the place of entertainment for soldiers stationed on Kinmen Island, Taiwan, is now being re-opened as a unique museum. Hsu Ying-fan says the museum’s sole purpose is that of giving  visitors a general idea on the so-called Military Paradise and what it served for.

Bearing an euphemistic name, “The Special Tea House Museum“, this one of a kind place features one of a kind “art”. Here you can find displays of photography or posters depicting the brothel’s noonday and also samples of tickets bought by soldiers who were waiting for their turn.

The brothel was closed in 1990 due to criticism manifested mainly by local woman’s groups, and with it being re-opened as a museum, officials are hopping the island will become a tourist attraction.

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Khalid Nabi – Not Your Average Cemetery

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The Khalid Nabi cemetery, in northern Iran has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists, because of its strange tombstones shaped as male and female sexual organs.

Scientists say the bizarre cemetery is around 1,400 years old, and judging by the number of headstones, it’s the final resting place of at least 600 people, the most important of which is Khalid Nabi, a prophet born 40 years before Muhammad. You’d be inclined to be believe most people come to the cemetery as pilgrims to a prophet’s grave, but you couldn’t be more wrong; they actually come to see the penis and breast-shaped tombstones.

Nobody knows exactly what the 6-foot-tall columns shaped like phalluses and the smaller, cross like-headstones that resemble female breasts are meant to symbolize, but the mere fact that a wacky attraction like the Khalid Nabi cemetery gets this kind of attention, in a country like Iran, is weird enough. Some scientists say the weird tombstones could have been influenced by the phallic religion practiced in India and central Asia, but most of the visitors don’t even care, they just came here to see some funny penis-shaped rocks.

I’m just not sure who Iran is going to blame for this, but I’m sure they’ll somehow relate the phallus stones to some “capitalist pigs”.

 

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5Pointz Aerosol Art Center – The World’s Premiere Graffiti Mecca

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5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is an outdoor art exhibit space where graffiti artists can exercise their artistic talent, legally. Dubbed a “an institution of higher burnin’ “, 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is viewed as the Mecca of the graffiti art world.

If you’re interested in discovering one of New York’s off-the-beaten-track attractions, 5Pointz should definitely be at the top of your priorities. An old factory converted into an outdoor graffiti museum, the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center features 200,000 square-feet of art covered space that will probably blow your mind. Practically every square inch of this once bustling industrial complex has been covered with colorful layers of graffiti paint, depicting everything from peace messages written in WildStyle to portraits of The Notorious B.I.G.

Provided they receive the approval of Jonathan Cohen, the curator of 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, any artist from around the world can leave their mark on the largest graffiti art exhibit in the world. Artists from Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands have contributed to the space, and if you visit here on weekends, between noon and 7 pm, you’re likely to catch graffiti artists at work.

So if you happen to be in New York, head to Long Island City and visit 5Pointz. It’s always free, it’s always open, and it’s always has some new art exhibits for you to discover.

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Sandu’ao – China’s Incredible Floating Village

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Often referred to as the “Future Water World”, the village of Sandu’ao is China’s largest community living on the sea.

Located in China’s Fujian Province, just 30 kilometers from downtown Ningde City, Sandu’ao is one of just few settlements built on water. It’s basically a huge self-sustaining floating village, where inhabitants need not set foot on dry land to ensure their survival. Making use of homemade and purchased boats, they make their living fishing and ocean farming. believe it or not Sandu’ao has its own floating postal service, convenience store, police station and even a series of restaurants.

After being devastated by aerial bombardments, during the Japanese invasion of World War 2, Sandu’ao went through a decade of rebuilding and development and is now China’s largest cultivation base of yellow croakers and various other seafood, including shellfish, shrimp and giant prawns. The sea farming is carried out in tens of thousands of cages and fishing nets that seen from a distance make a memorable sight many call “plantation on the sea”.

Just like most Chinese villages, Sandu’ao features modest houses made of wood, the only difference is they are built on sturdy pontoons made of bamboo and wood, wired to plastic barrels and pieces of PVC, to ensure buoyancy. Because in which it’s placed is completely cut off from the open sea, no waves threaten the peace of Sandu’ao and the pontoons simply sway gracefully on the calm waters.

An important source of seafood for the entire country, Sanu’ao is also becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction for travelers eager to experience everyday life on water.

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Ordos – China’s Modern Ghost Town

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Known as the “empty city”, the Kangabashi district of Ordos was designed as a home for over 1 million Chinese, but it remains nearly uninhabited. What makes this even stranger is the fact that we’re talking about the second richest settlement in China.

Once just another a poor town in Inner Mongolia, Ordos boomed in 2003, thanks to its immense coal and natural gas reserves. The area surrounding Ordos has one sixth of China’s coal reserves and one third of its natural gas reserves. As was to be expected, the government couldn’t resist the temptation of starting lavish projects in the area, and the building of Kangabashi district is one of them.

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Austrian Lake Is Also a Popular Hiking Spot

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A rare natural phenomenon turns one of Austria’s most beautiful hiking trails into a 10 meter-deep lake, for half the year.

Located at the foot of the Hochschwab Mountains, in Tragoess, Styria, Green Lake is one of the most bizarre natural phenomena in the world. During the cold winter months, this place is almost completely dry, and used as a country park where hikers love to come and spend some time away from urban chaos. But as soon as temperatures rise, the snow and ice covering the mountaintops begin to melt, and the water pours down, filling the basin below with crystal-clear water.

Water levels go from one-two meters at most, to over 10 meters, in the early summer. The waters of Green Lake are highest in June, when this extraordinary place is invaded by divers, curious to see what a mountain park looks like underwater. Fish swimming over wooden benches, a grass-covered bottom, trees, roads, roads and even bridges create a surreal setting that feels like it belongs on dry ground. That’s because for half of the year, that’s exactly where it’s at.

Take a look at the amazing images of the Green Lake, shot during the summer season:

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The Wacky Ice-Cream Graveyard of Vermont

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Have you ever wondered where ice-cream flavors go to die? Well, believe it or not, they have their very own cemetery, in Vermont.

The New England city of Vermont is famous for its Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, and the company’s Waterbury factory is the most popular tourist attraction in the whole state. One of the things that makes Ben&Jerry’s special is the wide variety of flavors, but as new ones emerge every year, older and unpopular ones reach the end of the line. To honor their memory, Ben&Jerry’s built a cemetery just for them.

Located on a hill, behind the famous Waterbury ice-cream factory, the Flavor Cemetery features hundreds of plastic tombstones, for every wacky flavor ever launched by Ben&Jerry’s. Each tombstone has an artist-written epitaph and a list of ingredients of the “deceased” ice-creams. Since the birth of Ben&Jerry’s, 200 flavors that have failed to impress customers, ended up pushing daisies in the Flavor Cemetery.

But don’t start crying over the demise of your favorite ice-cream flavor, just yet. According to Ben&Jerry’s, you have the power to bring “deceased” flavors back from the dead, by asking for it on their official website. If a flavor gets enough votes to convince management, it will be exhumed and brought back in the world of the living.

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i-City – The Nighttime Wonderland of Malaysia

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i-City, one of the latest high-tech attractions of Malaysia, can best be described as an unconventional mix of Oriental style and the latest in lighting technology.

Located in the city of Shah Alam, i-City is a one-of-a-kind theme-park where all the main attractions are made of plastic and millions of bright LED lights. Similar to Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch, during the day, i-City’s artificial forest of maple and pine trees really comes to life at night. Made out of plastic and fitted with colorful LEDs, they put on a light show unlike any other.

Inaugurated in early 2010, Shah Alam‘s i-City has already become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia. From rows upon rows of LED-made Chinese lanterns, to LED peacocks, flamingos and LED cherry blossoms, i-City offers a variety of unique sights that are sure to amaze anyone who visits here.

Though nothing compares to the look and smell of real trees, the colorful display of i-City’s magical forest is proof of the wonderful things man can create if he puts his mind to it.Now sit back and check out a set of mind-blowing photos taken in i-City, at night.

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Manshyiat Naser – The City of Garbage

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The Manshyiat Naser slum, on the outskirts of Cairo, is often referred to as “The City of Garbage” because of the large quantities of trash shipped here from all over Egypt’s capital city.

As unbelievable as the photos below may look, Manshyiat Naser is a real place, where people make their living out of trash. Like in any other normal community, you’ll find streets, houses and apartments throughout the settlement, but everything and everyone here depends on garbage. The inhabitants of Manshyiat Naser (called Zabbaleen) bring the trash into the city, by truck, cart, or any other means necessary, and sort any recyclable or useful waste.

Every street and every building in Manshyiat Naser is stacked with mountains of garbage, and you’ll see men, women and children thoroughly digging through them, looking for something they can sell. Although it may seem like an outdated system of handling trash, the Zabbaleen do a far better job than any of the waste handling systems of the modern world. Around 80% of the trash is recycled and resold, while the rest is either fed to the pigs roaming through the city streets, or burned for fuel.

The Zabbaleen barely manage to survive on what they make sorting out garbage, but many of them have done it for generations and wouldn’t conceive living their lives otherwise. They dispose of about a third of Cairo’s garbage, at no cost to authorities, and manage to make a decent living for them and their families. The Model of Manshyiat Naser has been copied in various cities around the world, including Manila, Bombay and Los Angeles.

Many photographers have been fascinated by the Zabbaleen way of life and the distinct look of the City of Garbage. As I look at the photos below, I can’t help but wonder: where’s Wall-E when you need him?

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Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch

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The Bottle Tree Ranch created by Elmer Long is one of the most impressive attractions along Route 66, featuring hundreds with bottle-filled trees.

Elmer Long is the quirky artist behind the now famous Bottle Tree Ranch. He looks a lot like one of the guys from ZZ Top, but he’s really a fascinating man who loves greeting and getting to know the people who visit his roadside masterpiece. As a kid, Elmer used to travel through the desert, with his dad, who would collect any objects they found, and keep extensive notes about their location.

After Elmer’s dad died, he was left with a sizable collection of colorful bottles, but he had no idea what to do with it. One day, it hit him – he decided to build his first bottle tree. He got to welding and after he completed his work, knew that he had to go on. Elmer Long started the Bottle Tree Ranch in 2000, and since then has created over 200 scrap metal bottle trees.

Visiting the Bottle Tree Ranch of California’s Mojave County isn’t just about admiring the beautiful art installations, or hearing the sweet melody created by the wind going through the bottles, it’s also about meeting the artist. Elmer Long is just as fascinating as his bottle ranch, always welcoming guests and willing to strike up a conversation. He always complains about how people now prefer the interstates, even though they are completely soulless, compared to the old routes. He longs for the old days when people also traveled to discover the towns and wonders along the roads.

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Christiania – Denmark’s Ultimate Freetown

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The Freetown of Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, where the people actually live freely.

Chritiania was created in 1971, and consists of the old Bådsmandsstræde Barracks and parts of the city ramparts. After the barracks were abandoned by the military, the area was simply taken over by the locals in the surrounding neighborhoods, as a playground for their children. This was actually a protest against the Danish government of that time, started by the article of one Jacob Ludvigsen.

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