World’s Friendliest Restaurant Serves Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs

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While it is common for restaurant owners to connect with their patrons, a restaurateur from Albuquerque is taking customer care to a whole new level. Tim Harris gives out free hugs to every single customer at the end of each meal. The atmosphere at his restaurant ‘Tim’s Place’ is so positive that patrons often call it the ‘world’s friendliest restaurant’.

The establishment has been around since 2010, and Tim has given out over 19,000 hugs in the past five years – he keeps count using a special Hug Counter. “I love giving all the customers a hug because I want them to feel comfortable and connected and being around friends,” said Tim explained.

‘Tim’s Hug’ is actually an item on the menu, described as a “calorie-free”, “guilt-free” treat that guarantees to “improve your lease on life.” Which is true – Tim’s hugs are doubly special because of everything he has achieved in life. The 26-year-old is probably the only Down syndrome sufferer in the U.S. to own a restaurant, but he has several other things to be proud about: he’s an accomplished Special Olympian, an excellent sailor, and an experienced offshore fisherman. And, he was also elected homecoming king and Student of the Year in high school! So when a man like Tim hugs you, it is sure to be a special and unforgettable experience.



Sand Bathing – A Uniquely Japanese Spa Experience

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Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, is home to numerous hot springs, the most famous of which are in the cities of Beppu and Ibusuki. These cities, with their balmy subtropical climate and bubbling volcanic waters, are major tourist destinations. One of their most popular attractions is hot-spring bathing, known as onsen, offered by various spas. But there exist a few spas in these cities that offer a lesser known, highly relaxing experience – sand bathing!

Sand bathing basically involves getting buried in a large pit of volcanic sand for up to 30 minutes. The experience is not only soothing and satisfying, but believed to be highly therapeutic as well. It is apparently great for treating infertility, diabetes, anaemia and asthma, and is also said to aid in weight loss.

The bathing areas consist of a huge boxes of sand, heated up with natural hot spring water. When the sand is thoroughly soaked in the water and steaming hot, the water is drained. Visitors are then let into the box and asked to lie down, as workers shovel copious amounts of sand on top of them. The bathers remain buried until the sand cools down, and are then directed to bathing facilities to wash the dirt off.

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Canadian Couple Live on Amazing Man-Made Floating Complex Miles Away from Civilization

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Canadian couple Wayne Adams and Catherine King are the proud owners of ‘Freedom Cove’, a colorful floating home off the coast of Tofino in British Columbia. The unique structure consists of 12 platforms, supporting wooden buildings, greenhouses, a lighthouse, and living spaces that are all interconnected through wooden pathways. Freedom Cove is special because it is a ‘getaway’ in the true sense – completely off the grid and self-sustaining in every possible way.

Adams and King, along with their two children, have lived at Freedom Cove ever since it was built in 1992. And they’ve managed to live a full life without the help of mainstream civilisation. They grow fruits and vegetables all year round in several greenhouses, and generate electricity through solar panels and photovoltaic energy generators.

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Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl Child is Born

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While a vast majority of Indians continue to prefer sons, a small village in the Indian state of Rajasthan has its own unique tradition of celebrating their daughters. Since 2006, the residents of Piplantri village, in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, have been planting a whopping 111 trees to celebrate the birth of a girl!

Given that an average of 60 girls are born each year, the villagers have managed to plant over 250,000 trees so far – including varieties like Neem, Indian Rosewood, and Mango. The community of 8,000 residents is also dedicated to making sure that the trees survive and attain fruition as the girls grow up.



Indiana’s Famous Grave in the Middle of the Road

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If you happen to be cruising along County Road 400, in Johnson County, Indiana, you’re bound to stumble upon one of America’s strangest landmarks – a grave located dead in the middle of the road.

The grave apparently dates back to before Amity village even had a paved road. In 1831, a 37-year-old woman named Nancy Kerlin died in the area, survived by her husband and 11 children. Keeping with her wishes, her husband William Barnett buried her at her favorite spot on a small hill, overlooking Sugar Creek. While road crews generally tend to flatten out such obstructions, in this case, they made sure to pour the asphalt around the grave. Why? Because they were terrified!

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Turtle-Shaped Island Spends Nine Months Underwater, Only Appears in Spring

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Every year, with the coming of spring, thousands of Chinese tourists flock to the The Gorges Reservoir to see an elusive turtle-shaped island rise from the waters of the Muodaoxi River. The event, dubbed ‘spring turtle rising from water’, is celebrated by local residents because turtles are considered auspicious and a sign of longevity.

It sounds like a fascinating natural phenomenon similar to the Jindo Moses Miracle that takes place in South Korea, but in this case the “magic” is man-made. The water level of Muodaoxi River is controlled by the Three Gorges Dam. In spring, the reservoir supplies water to the areas downstream, bringing down the water level and exposing the island.



Salty Dawg Saloon – Alaska’s Unique Dollar-Bill-Covered Watering Hole

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While many cafés and bars choose to display their patrons’ praise on sticky notes or paper napkins, a watering hole in Homer, Alaska, has every last inch of its walls and ceiling covered with dollar bills signed by its satisfied customers. Because of its quirky interiors, Salty Dawg Saloon is in fact a cherished landmark of Homer Spit – a 4.5-mile piece of land jutting out from Homer on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, into Kachemak Bay.

There is no shortage of bars in the town of Homer, but locals prefer driving all the way to the Spit and into Homer Boat Harbor, just to visit the peculiar Salty Dawg. Some of the patrons who visit the bar don’t even drink alcohol, but the place is so famous for its money plastered interior that many tourists just stop by to see it for themselves.

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Visitors Flock to South Korea’s Sheep Cafe

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When South Korean café owner Lee Kwang-ho decided to add a couple of sheep to his payroll, it was the best business move of his life. Since 2011, the fluffy employees at Nature Café have been attracting hordes of animal lovers and tourists. The shop serves all the café staples such as coffee, tea, and cake, but it all seems sort of extra-special when enjoyed in the company of a couple of fluffy sheep.

According to Lee, the café’s popularity has spiked recently because according to the lunar calendar 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. So lots of people want to see sheep, and the café is more convenient than seeking them out on a ranch. 21-year-old Lee Hyeon-ji agreed: “We were planning to go to a sheep ranch , but it’s too far and we didn’t have enough time to go there. Then we heard about this place where we can see sheep in Seoul and came to this sheep cafe.”

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Pathways to the Past – America’s Wood-Paved Streets

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For over 100 years, the residents of Philadelphia have worked hard to keep the 200 block of Camac Street in great shape. It might seem odd to spend that much effort on a single street, but the place is maintained for historic reasons – it is the only street in the city still paved with wooden blocks!

Camac Street is one of the few remnants of the old-style Nicolson pavements that still exist in some cities across the US. While wood block pavement is believed to have originated in Russia, the construction technique was made popular in the mid-1800s by Samuel Nicolson, the superintendent of Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.

Nicolson is believed to have revived the wood-paving process in order to solve several problems posed by early paving methods. At the time, wood was viewed as a better alternative to the irregularly surfaced cobblestone streets. Wood was also abundant, while stone was scarce. And horse-traffic made less noise on wood-surfaced streets.

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No Girls Allowed – The Greek State That Forbids Both Human and Animal Females

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Mount Athos, formally known as Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, is located on the Greek peninsula of Halkidiki. The monastic traditions of the mountain date back to 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.

Although technically part of the European Union, the Holy Mountain is largely self-governed. This prohibits the free movement of people and goods in its territory, unless formal permission has been granted. As a result, a number of traditions at Mount Athos might seem odd to people outside. The keeping of Byzantine time, for instance, means that their day begins at sunset. But perhaps their most bizarre practice is the centuries-old ban on women entering the sacred peninsula.

For over 1,000 years, women have been forbidden from setting foot on the mountain. In fact, females of other species such as cows, dogs and goats aren’t permitted either. Only birds and insects are exempted from the rule – scanning the skies and grounds for female body parts would surely be too absurd, even by Mount Athos standards.

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Shani Shingnapur – India’s Village without Doors

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Believe it or not, there’s a village in India where none of the 300-odd buildings – homes, educational institutions, and even banks – have doors. Cash is stored in unlocked containers, as are valuable pieces of gold jewellery.

Even most of the public toilets in Shani Shingnapur village square have no doors. “For reasons of privacy and following requests by women, we recently agreed to put a thin curtain near the entrance, but not doors because that would go against our belief,” said village shopkeeper Parmeshwar Mane.

Some villagers do put up loose door panels against their door frames, but this is done only at night, to keep out wild animals and stray dogs. The only problem with the lack of doors is that there’s nothing to knock on to announce your arrival. But the villagers have a solution for this, too. “Just shout out and somebody will come to the door,’’ one of the villagers, Rani, explained.

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Russia’s Lake Karachay – The Most Contaminated Place on Earth

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Although breathtakingly beautiful, Russia’s Lake Karachay is probably the last place on earth you’d want to choose for a lakeside retreat. Just standing next to the picturesque shore for an hour would give you a radiation dose of 600 roentgen, more than enough to kill you. At its height, the lake was putting out more than 200,000 times the normal amount of radioactivity, due to poor waste disposal practices.

Nestled deep in Russia’s Ural Mountains, close to the modern Kazakhstan border, Lake Karachay falls within the Mayak Production Association, one of the country’s largest (and leakiest) nuclear facilities. Built in the 1940s, immediately after World War II, Mayak was one of Russia’s most important nuclear weapons factories and was inaccessible to foreigners for 45 years. But when President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree in 1992 that opened up the area, visiting scientists who gained access immediately declared it the most polluted area on the planet. It seems that in its long period of obscurity, Mayak was the site of numerous nuclear-related accidents, some almost as devastating as the Chernobyl meltdown.

Nuclear engineers at Mayak apparently dumped radioactive waste into the nearby Techa river quite regularly. The watered down waste that they discarded rather carelessly was a mixture of radioactive elements such as Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, each with a half-life of approximately 30 years.

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Villa Epecuen – The Argentinian Town That Spent 25 Years Underwater

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The town of Epecuen, in the Argentinian farmlands southwest of Buenos Aires, was once a bustling lakeside resort with a population of over 5,000. Over a quarter of a century ago it was flooded by the waters of a nearby lake and, until recently, it remained submerged. Now it’s finally come back up for air.

Established in 1920 along the shore of Lake Epecuen, the popular tourist destination played host to at least 20,000 visitors every season. Its main attraction was the saltwater lake, which contained 10 times more salt than the ocean. According to local legend, the lake is so salty because it was formed by the tears of a great Chief crying for the pain of his beloved. The waters of the lake were believed to cure depression, rheumatism, skin diseases, anemia, and even diabetes.

Thousands of visitors would arrive by train from the nation’s capital to relax in the town’s saltwater baths and spas. Tourists, mainly from Buenos Aires’ large Jewish community, enjoyed the floating water because it reminded them of the Dead Sea in Israel. The town had almost 300 thriving businesses – including guesthouses, lodges, hotels and other establishments centered around tourist trade.

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Shell Gas Station Toilets in the Philippines Are So Clean It Will Blow Your Mind

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The video tour of a Shell Gas Station toilet in the Philippines is making waves on the internet – it has gone viral with over 4 million views on YouTube and nearly 30,000 likes on Facebook. The video was made by Canadian model and TV personality Jason Godfrey; it shows the inside of a pristine toilet that’s so amazing, you’ll probably never want to leave it!

The gas station, located in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, is primarily meant to attract travelers and tourists. In addition to sparkling clean toilets, the restroom also has a very homey ambiance, with lovely paintings adorning the walls, bookshelves that stock reading material to peruse while using the loo, furnished wood and other beautiful decorations. It’s unlike any public toilet I’ve ever been too, that’s for sure.

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Japan’s Unique Cotton-Spinning Bar

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Contrary to what its name suggests, ‘Tokyo Cotton Village’ isn’t a rural settlement of cotton farmers, but a bar located in the heart of Japan’s capital city, in Setagaya Ward. The one-of-a-kind establishment allows its patrons to experience spinning cotton, which is supposedly a relaxing activity.

The service is available for free to anyone who orders a drink – they get to enjoy spinning threads of wamen, a type of cotton that’s cultivated in Japan. The airy texture of wamen is believed to calm the mind and relax the body. The concept is a big hit with customers, many of whom visit the bar several times a week.

“Getting absorbed in [spinning threads] lets me forget bad things that happened at work,” said Yoshiko Jimura, 32, who visits at least twice a week. “This is a precious time for me to change my mood.”

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