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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The Jizo Army of Chausudake Volcano

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Located on the barren slopes of Chausudake Volcano, in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, hundreds of small Jizo statues make up the eeriest spirit army I’ve ever seen.

One of the most beloved divinities in Japan, Jizo is seen as a savior working to ease the suffering of those serving time in hell, and answers the prayers for health, and success of the living. He is a friend to all, and Jizo statues are usually placed at intersections of roads, to help travelers pick the right way to go. He is extremely important to pregnant women and children, and statues are often adorned with tiny children’s clothes or bibs. Parents whose children have died place toys and offerings beside the statues, asking for protection of their child’s soul.

The Jizo statues of Chausudake Volcano offer a sight unique in Japan, and all over the world. Jizo representations can be found in many places around the Land of the Rising Sun, but the dark volcanic rocks, from which the statues have been carved, and the barren surroundings create an eerie atmosphere that’s hard to forget.

 

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The Rusty Creatures of Jurustic Park

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Jurustic Park is the brainchild of Clyde and Nancy Wynia, a couple of artists who create unique creatures, out of various metals, and scatter them through their yard, for the world to see.

This wondrous place was born in 1993, when Clyde decided to sculpt a giant iron bird, and hang it from one of the trees in his backyard. A curious neighbor asked him how he got his hands on something like that and the first thing that came into Clyde’s mind was “I dug it out of the nearby marsh where it inhabited the swamp during the Iron Age.” And That’s how his yard earned the name of Jurustic Park.

Clyde calls himself an amateur paleontologist who excavates and recreates the now extinct creatures that inhabited the large McMillan Marsh, near Marshfield, Winsconsin, during the Iron Age. he explains that these mysterious metal creatures went extinct during the 19th century, when farming and industry moved into the area. Many were used as parts for various machinery, while others were destroyed by the acid rains caused by pollution.

After 17 years of work, Clyde Wynia has managed to decorate his yard with over 250 iron sculptures, from large dragons, to tiny mosquitoes. Whenever he feels the urge to recreate yet another metal creature, he just has some iron delivered to his Jurustic Park, and starts welding.

Over 15,000 people, from all around the United States, and 30 other different countries, visit Jurustic Park, every year, and although Clyde never sells his large metal sculptures, he donates his works to charitable auctions, evey year, and earns about $6,000 for various causes.

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Ganvie – The Village Built on Stilts

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The village of Ganvie, in Benin, is the only human settlement in the world, built on stilts, in the middle of a lake, several kilometers from the nearest shore.

But people don’t just go ahead and build themselves a home, in the middle of a lake, they must have a serious reason. And the reason for the existence of Ganvie can be traced back to the 18th century, when a peaceful African tribe, the Tofinu, tired of running from the slaver tribe of Dom Homey, decided to build themselves a home, on Lake Nokoue.

The Dom Homey believed a terrible demon lived in the lake, and their ruthless warriors dared not set foot in its waters. The Tofinu had finally found their peace. But fast forward to present day,and the people of Ganvie are still reluctant to go on solid ground, although the threat of slavery is only a distant memory. They’ve ground accustomed to living on the water, and wouldn’t abandon their unique lifestyle, for anything.

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Wat Phai Rong Wua – Thai Hell on Earth

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Wat Phai Rong Wua has to be one of the most bizarre tourist attractions on the face of the Earth. Featuring scenes of torture, performed by devilish creatures, this Buddhist temple complex is what Thais expect hell to be like.

Mostly unkown to the Western world, Wat Phai Rong Wua is a popular destination for Buddhists, who flock here every year. Known as the location of the largest metal-cast Buddha figure in the world, and of the Palace of a Hundred Spires, Wat Phai Rong Wua also houses dozens of sculptures of people being tortured by demons and various monsters. Some are poked in the face with a tridents, while others suffer, with their insides hanging out, in the jaws of giant monsters. There’s blood everywhere and loudspeakers around the complex describe the tortures these sinners have to undergo.

Wat Phai Rong Wua doesn’t strike you as the kind of place you’d want to take your children, on a family vacation, but Thais from all over the country travel here, with their kids, to show them what can happen if they don’t say their prayers, or do bad deeds. Seems pretty weird, doesn’t it? I guess that’s why you hardly see any westerners around this place.

Photos via maleangpo

 


The Amazing Snake Temple of Penang

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Probably the only one of its kind, in the world, the Snake Temple, in Penang, Malaysia, is home to bothe people and some of the most dangerous snakes on Earth.

Located at Sungai Kluang, on Penang Island, the Snake Temple is also known as Temple of the Azure Cloud or Pure cloud Temple, in honor of Penang’s beautiful skies. It’s a safe haven for pit vipers, said to be servants of Chor Soo Kong, the resident deity of the temple. According to legend, Chor Soo Kong, who was a Chinese monk and healer, once offered shelter to the snakes of the jungle, who then started coming in of their own free will.

Thousands of devotees travel to the Snake Temple of Penang, every year, and they aren’t bothered by the dozens of venomous snakes coiled around the temple. Some say it’s the work of Chor Soo Kong, while others believe pit vipers, known as one of the most aggressive snake species, are made drowsy by the smoke of the incense burning in the temple.

Unfortunately, the snake population of the Penang Snake Temple has decreased constantly, due to the urbanization of the area. If you’re brave enough to enter, you should know there’s no admission fee.

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Unique Architecture: Teapot Dome Gas Station

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When it comes to architecture, one thing is for sure: you don’t have to build something like Burj Khalifa to draw attention. That definitely helps, but this lovely teapot gas station proves you can do it for cheap.

Known as the Teapot Dome, this architectural jewel is located in Zillah, Washington, and was built almost 100 years ago, as a monument to the Teapot Dome Scandal, which involved a number of important American figures.

Until a few years ago, before it went out of use, the Teapot Dome was considered the oldest gas station in America, but now it’s just a local monument that definitely needs preserving.

via InteractiveArchitecture

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Karube Shrine – Where the Japanese Go to Worship Breasts

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A shrine dedicated to women’s breasts may sound amusing to us foreigners, but for the Japanese, this is a truly sacred place.

Located in Soja City, in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture, Karube Shrine is dedicated to Chichigamisama, the Goddess of Breasts. She is believed to help with safe child births, the production of breast milk, and even curing breast cancer. Built in 1678, the shrine became famous due to a now dead weeping cherry tree, that grew nearby.

Most women come to Karube Shrine to pray for a safe child birth, abundant lactation and breast cancer healing, but there are those who ask the Goddess of Breasts for a bigger bust. Those boob-like things that decorate the shrine’s interior are Ema, small wooden planks, where worshipers write their prayers and requests, in the hope that the god receive them. They cost about $21, and can be ordered online, if you’re interested.

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Norwegian Prison Looks More Like a Holiday Resort

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Located on 75 acres of pine forest, Norway’s Halende Prison is unlike any of the American prisons, smelling of sweat and urine. Here, inmates are respected and probably live a better live than they did on the outside.

Norway’s second largest prison cost 1.5 billion kroner ($252 million) and took 10 years to complete, but the result is truly impressive. The 252 inmates at Halende will be living in 12-square-meter rooms, equipped with LCD TVs, modern furniture, and 2-square-meter showers. Instead of the awful smell of most prisons, the only odors at Halende will be those coming from the modern kitchen, where prisoners take cooking classes.

The prison’s cultural center features a recording studio, library,winter garden, manufacturing workshops, fancy classrooms, state f the art gymnasium, as well as a laboratory. Halende cells and facilities are decorated with genuine paintings that cost a total of $1 million.  There is even a separate, two-bedroom house, where inmates can spend time with their families, during overnight visits.

Are Hoidal, the prison’s governor, said the Norwegian prison system focuses on human rights and respect, so he doesn’t see any of this as unusual. Well, people must live a great life in Norway, because if that thing was built where I’m from, criminals would literally line up to rob or stab you, for a chance to live there. Seriously, that thing looks a lot better than any hospital or college dorm I’ve ever seen.

via Time, photos via drugoi

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