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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The Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake

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Featuring tens of thousands of sign posts from all around the world, the Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake is one of the most popular roadside attractions along the Alaska Highway.

Located in Watson Lake, one of the newest towns of the Yukon, Sign Post Forest takes up a couple of acres, and features all kinds of signs, from street signs to license plates, and even huge road panels. This unique tourist attraction was born in 1942, when Private Carl K. Lindley was asked to repair a signpost damaged by a bulldozer. He decided to personalize the job by adding a new sign with the distance to his home town of Danville, Illinois.

Several soldiers followed his example and the tradition of adding signs was born. And it became more and more popular every year, with people bringing in different signs, from every place they traveled. In 1990, sign post number 10,000 was nailed in, and the count in 2008 had reached 65, 164 signs. With between 2,500 and 4,000 signs being added every year, the count has almost certainly passed the 70,000 mark.

Many of the signs nailed onto the signposts of Sign Post Forest have been especially created for this place, but there are a large number of original signs “borrowed” and brought all the way to the Yukon. The size of some of the signs – a 6-by-10-foot road panel from the German Autobahn, for example – makes you wonder how on Earth someone managed to bring them to the Sign Post Forest.

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The Mitchell Corn Palace

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As the only corn palace in the world, the Mitchell Corn Palace attracts over 500,000 visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Dakota.

The Mitchell Corn Palace is not a palace made of corn, as many assume when hearing its name, but it is almost completely covered with it. The Arab-looking structure is adorned with “Crop art”, specifically murals made from corn and other cereal. Some say it’s the most impressive thing they’ve ever seen, while other refer to it as just a gym covered n corn. I guess it’s just a matter of how much you appreciate agricultural art.

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Hay-on-Wye – The Bibliophiles’ Mecca

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Home to the largest secondhand bookstore in the world, Hay-on-Wye is more than just a little town on the border between England and Wales, it’s book heaven on Earth.

The history of Hay-on-Wye as the “town of books” began on Fools’ Day of 1977, when during a bold publicity stunt, bibliophile Richard Booth announced the independence of Hay-on-Wye as a kingdom of books, with him as the monarch. Ambassadors were sent to the International Court of Justice, in Hague, and a rowing gunboat started patrolling on the river Wye. Since then, he managed to establish a healthy tourism industry based on books, and thousands of visitors come to Hay-on-Wye every year, to look for whatever books they need.

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Five Epic Pyramids of the World

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Most likely, the only pyramids you learned about in school were the “Great” ones in Egypt. If you were lucky, you maybe heard that there were some in Central America, but mostly the education was all about Giza and the buried Pharaohs. However, pyramids were built as sacred architecture all over the world, from Chichen Itza (Mexico) to Indonesia; from China to the Canary Islands. If you’re traveling because you’re interested in cultures that you may not have known about before, then you have to check out these epic pyramids of the world.

1) Pyramids of Guimar (Tenerife) – Tenerife is one of the most well-traveled locales in the Canary Islands. There are plenty of hotels and cheap flights to Tenerife; this makes the Pyramids of Guimar a great first “Pyramid That’s Not In Egypt” to see. Built out of volcanic rock and fitted together without mortar, these pyramids are mysterious in that a) they’re comparable in size to all the major pyramids of the world, yet b) no one knows who built them. There are all kinds of stories involving Gnostic Christians, Freemasons, or even Aztec traders before the first millennium, but no one knows for sure. That’s why they’re so interesting.

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Haw Par Villa – The Most Disturbing Theme Park in Singapore

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Haw Par Villa, also known as the Tiger Balm Gardens has to be one of the weirdest tourist spots you can find in Southeast Asia, and the weirdest in Singapore.

Aw Boob Haw and Aw Boon Par, the two brothers behind the famous Tiger Balm, built the Haw Par Villa in 1937. It featured over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas inspired from Chinese folklore, history and mythology, and quickly became an attraction for people who appreciated Chinese culture. Although it was a huge place, Haw Par Villa was always full of people taking pictures of its weird-looking exhibits and kids running around holding balloons. That was 20 years ago, because now Singapore’s weird theme park is almost deserted.

But just because this place lost its glow doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit, especially if you’re into offbeat attractions. I mean this place will really blow your mind, with statues like a woman breastfeeding her father in law, armed monkeys, or the human faced giant crab. Now these apparently do make some sense if you’ve read up on Chinese mythology, but to an uneducated guy like me they just look freaky.

Not to mention the Ten Stages of Hell exhibit, a place that will creep the hell out of a grownup, let alone a child. According to Chinese mythology, a soul must pass through ten courts of judgment, before being allowed into heaven, and Haw Par Villa has very detailed representations of these trials. As you’re about to see, they are not pretty.

All in all, Haw Par Villa is still considered a must-see attraction for people fond of Chinese culture, and efforts are being made to restore it to its former glory. If you want my opinion, don’t take your kids with you, unless you enjoy explaining why an old man is sucking on a woman’s breast…

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The Sculpture Park of Veijo Rönkkönen Is the Weirdest Place in Finland

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Deep in the forest of Parikkala, in the easternmost part of Finland, lies one of the craziest tourist attractions on the face of the planet – the sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen.

Regarded by most as the most important ensemble of contemporary folk art in Finland, the sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen is a lot to take in, the first time you visit. Finding yourself surrounded by hundreds of creepy statues, grinning at you with their real human teeth, is enough to spook you into turning back as soon as you set foot in the park.

Veijo Rönkkönen, a former paper mill worker, completed his first sculpture in 1961, and now his yard, and the path leading to it, are filled with over 450 statues, 200 of which are self portraits of the artist in Yoga positions he has mastered so far. The statues have loudspeakers hidden inside them, and the sound effects add to the eeriness of this place.

Although he has had the chance to exhibit and even sell his artworks, in auctions, Veijo Rönkkönen has never agreed to showcase his art. Every time he was asked to showcase his work, the near-hermit always replied he needed to discuss it with the statues first. Sadly, they never agreed to travel.

The sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen is free to visit, if you dare, but the artist insists every visitor sign his logbook, before they leave.

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Qeswachaka – A Handwoven Bridge Made of Grass

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The Qeswachaka hanging bridge, of Cuzco, Peru, is handwoven every year, from a local grass called Qoya.

Located approximately 100 km from Cuzco, Qeswachaka bridge was once part of a network of bridges, built in the time of the Inca empire, but is now the only one of its kind, in the world. Spanning 120 feet over the Apurimac river, at around 13,000 feet above water, Qeswachaka (also spelled Q’eswachaka or Keswachaka) is built using the ancient Qhapaq nan technique, used by the Inca people.

Qhapaq nan bridges were built from grass, and were wide enough for only one person to pass, at a time. In ancient times these bridges were constantly under surveillance and everyone crossing them was monitored. When Pizzaro began his march for Cuzco, Qeswachaka was destroyed, to slow his advance, but was reconstructed, many years later.

Made from a local herb, known as Qoya, the fibers of Qeswachaka bridge deteriorate rapidly, and local communities have to reconstruct the bridge every year. Around 1,000 men and women, from various Andean communities gather at Qeswachaka bridge, every second week of June, for the rebuilding ceremony. Long blade of Qoya grass are woven into six long cables, which are bound and secured by eucalyptus trunks, buried at each end of the bridge.

It’s not that building a more modern bridge would be impossible, but this is a way for the Andean people to celebrate and honor their Inca ancestors, and keep their centuries old traditions alive.

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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