Pyongyang Cafe – A Small Piece of North Korea on the Spanish Coast

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Entering North Korea is not the easiest or safest thing to do for foreigners, but curious tourists can now experience a small piece of North Korean culture in the Mediterranean city of Tarragona, where a small bar founded to promote Kim Jong-Un’s totalitarian regime recently opened.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, the founder of Pyongyang Cafe, is the only Westerner to occupy a post in the North Korean regime, even if it is only honorary. A firm believer in communism, he became interested in North Korea after the fall of the Soviet Union, which coincided with meeting some North Korean families in Madrid. He started traveling to the isolated Asian country, managed to meet with the late Kim Jong-Il, and in 2002 he was appointed special delegate for international cultural relations by Pyongyang. The title is not official, but he has taken his mission very seriously. Cao de Benos, a.k.a. “Cho Sun-il” (which translates as “Korea is one”) went on to found the Korean Friendship Association which currently has delegates in 30 countries around the world.

As someone who regularly appears in the Spanish media to defend North Korea against what he calls Western propaganda and manipulation, Cho Sun-il decided to open Pyongyang Cafe as a way to offer people an authentic North Korean experience. “We want to break with all the myths, manipulation,” he says. “And as not many people can go to Korea, because it’s complicated and far, they can come to our cafe.”

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Shoyna – The Russian Village Fighting a Losing Battle against Sand

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Shoyna, a small Russian village located on the edge of the arctic circle is often referred to as the world’s northernmost desert. The sand covers everything as far as the eye can see and the few people living here never dare shut their front doors at night, for fear of being buried alive by the ever-shifting dunes. But it wasn’t always like this…

Shoyna was settled in the 1930’s by fishermen drawn to the coast of the White Sea by the abundance of fish in the area. In just two decades, it had grown into a bustling fishing port with a population of around 1,500 people and a fleet of roughly seventy fishing boats. However, it wasn’t long before excessive trawling decimated the fish colonies and the fishery collapsed. The dozens of vessels lining the shore stopped coming and many of the families that had thrived in Shoyna slowly moved away. Today, the official number of inhabitants is 375, most of whom survive on unemployment benefits and pensions. Hunting is also a way to make ends meet, thanks to the large number of barnacle and Brent geese that use Shoyna as a stopover on their migration course, but the most lucrative job in the village is definitely that of bulldozer driver, as everyone needs their house dug up from the sand at one point.

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This Stunning Open-Air Hotel Room in the Swiss Alps Is Basically Just a Bed

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Located 6,463 feet above sea level in the middle of the Swiss Alps, the Null Stern concept hotel takes the minimalist approach to the extreme, removing the walls, roof, basic amenities like toilets and leaving guests with just a king-size bed and a stunning 360-degree view to admire.

It might seem rudimentary, but setting up the Null Stern hotel room way up in the mountains actually required a bit of work. A construction crew, including an excavator, had to first flatten the terrain, before the bed, nightstands and bed lamps could be installed. I suspect having them transported through what looks like very rough terrain was no walk in the park either. So why go through the trouble?

Null Stern hotel co-founder Daniel Charbonnier says the goal was “to put the guest at the center of the experience and to focus on the intangible by reducing everything else to the minimum.” So they skipped building the walls and roof of the room, as well as the bathroom. That last one may be a big problem for a lot of people, but Null Stern mentions that there is a public bathroom available 10 miles down the mountain.

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Chinese Businessman Turns Boeing 737 Airplane into a Restaurant

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China’s very first airplane restaurant was recently unveiled in Wuhan. Named “Lilly Airways”, the unique eatery is located in the cabin area of an old Boeing 737.

Businessman Li Liang acquired the aircraft from Indonesian airline Batavia Air, in May 2015, but then had to go through six months of exhausting custom procedures in order to get the aircraft into China. “Demounting, port, shipping, business license, trade declaration…all these procedures were never done by anybody before, which means I had to go through them one by one,” Li said, adding that the Boeing 737 had to be disassembled a total of eight times in its four-month journey from Indonesia to Wuhan, China. Getting the plane split into parts that then had to be packed in around 70 containers and shipped multiple times apparently cost the eccentric businessman a whopping 3 million yuan ($452,325). Add that to the 5 million yuan ($5.28 million) he paid for the plane itself and you have one of the most expensive restaurants in the world.

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The Spanish Village of Witches Cursed by the Catholic Church

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Nestled in the foothills of the Macayo Mountains, in Aragon, Spain, lies a quaint village plagued by a curse so strong that only the Pope can lift it.

Trasmoz was once a bustling settlement with a population of around 10,000 people, but today it numbers only 62 inhabitants, of which only 30 live there permanently. For many, the downfall of Trasmoz has a lot to do with the curse placed on the village by the Catholic Church centuries ago and the stigma associated with witchcraft. Its history is riddled with legends of witches and pagan rituals, and even the ruined castle at its center is said to have been built in a single night by a magician called Mutamín. How many of these stories are true, and how many are simple rumors spread by the Church to justify its actions is left to interpretation.

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Fishing with Fire – A Mesmerizing Tradition of Taiwan

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For hundreds of years, fishermen in Taiwan have been catching sardines with the help of fiery stick held over the edge of a boat. The fish are so attracted to the light that they jump out of the water and into the nets of the fishermen.

Fire fishing is as simple as it is mesmerizing. Fishing boats head out to sea during the night, and light up a bamboo stick covered with sulfuric soil at one end to create a bright flame. The sulfur dissolves in the water and the gas produced then flashes with fire. Drawn to the light spectacle, sardines jump out of the water by the hundreds at a time and end up in the fishermen’s nets. Sulfuric fire fishing was developed during the period of Japanese Rule and is now practiced only in the Jinshan sulfur harbor.

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Chinese Artist Spends 20 Years Turning Ancient Valley into an Artistic Wonderland

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Artist Song Peilun is being hailed as “The Father of Yelang Valley” after spending the last two decades turning a forested patch of land into an artistic village as a tribute to the ancient civilization that once thrived in the area.

Yelang was an ancient political entity first described in the 3rd century BC centered in what is now western Guizhou province, China. Experts believe that many ancient cultures were rooted here, but there are unfortunately no architectural remnants left standing in the great valley. Inspired by Crazy Horse, a mountain monument dedicated to a Native American warrior, in the US state of South Dakota, after visiting the United States, Chinese artist Song Peilun dedicated his life to building a memorial to the artistic heritage of Yelang Valley and restoring part of its former glory.

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Pablo EskoBear – The Legendary Cocaine Bear of Kentucky

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When it comes to weird tourist attractions, it’s hard to beat a stuffed black bear that died of what many people consider the worst cocaine overdose in history. Nicknamed Pablo EscoBear, the unique tourist attraction is currently on display at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, in Lexington.

On December 23, 1985, the New York Times reported about a 175-pound black bear that had apparently died of an overdose of cocaine in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. Three months earlier, drug smuggler Andrew Thornton II had dropped large quantities of drugs from an airplane over that area, before jumping from it himself. Unfortunately, Thornton got tangled in his parachute and fell to his death in someone’s yard, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Before turning to a life of crime, Kentucky blue blood Andrew Thornton II had worked as a narcotics officer of all things, and then as a lawyer. It is believed that he had built his network of connections during his time on the right side of the law, before becoming a drug smuggler. He was on a coke-smuggling run from Colombia when he dropped 40 plastic containers full of cocaine in Chattahoochee National Forest.

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Vineyard Keeps Vines Pest-Free with the Help of This Adorable 900-Duck Army

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Vergenoegd Wine Estate, a small vineyard in South Africa, keeps the use of chemicals to a minimum with the help of a 900-strong army of ducks that make sure all the vines are always free of pests and snails.

One of the last things you would expect to see on a vineyard is a large group of ducks running around, quacking and looking or things to feast on. And yet that’s the sight you’re very likely to behold at Vergenoegd Wine Estate, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. A feathery army of 900 Indian Runner Ducks is unleashed through the grape vines two times a day – once at 9.45am and again at 3.30pm – and allowed to feast on any pests and snails they can find. Over the years, the ducks have become a tourist attraction of sorts and even have their own daily parade where visitors can watch them run to work. As you can see in the video below, it’s a pretty impressive sight.

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Aptly Named Rollercoaster Restaurant Delivers Your Food via Tiny Rollercoasters

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British theme park Alton Towers is giving fast food a whole new meaning with its-newly opened ‘Rollercoaster Restaurant’ where dishes are delivered to patrons via – you guessed it – tiny rollercoasters. For an attraction famous for its adrenaline pumping rides, this is the perfect eatery.

When you enter the Rollercoaster Restaurant, an employee will seat you at your table and explain how to use a tablet to order food, which will travel to your table via a 26-foot rollercoaster with two gravity-defying loop-the-loops. But here’s the catch – you share a rollercoaster with three other tables, so there’s no way of telling whether the dish on the way is the one you ordered or not.

Once it makes its way down to the bottom, the dish will plant itself on a massive lazy suzan, along with a flag displaying the table number. If it happens to be yours, you can simply rotate the lazy susan towards your table and help yourself. Thankfully, the food arrives in closed containers and drinks arrive in bottles to avoid spillage, while hot beverages like tea and coffee are served the regular way – by hand.

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Antlerman’s Shed – Inside an Awe-Inspiring Building Decorated with Thousands of Deer Antlers

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James Phillips, from Three Forks, Montana, has been collecting shed antlers for over half a century now. The 66-year-old takes long hikes in the foothills of the mountains, looking for antlers to take home. Over the last six decades, he has collected over 16,000 individual pieces that now cover virtually every inch of a specially constructed 30 x 64 foot building known as Antlerman’s Shed.

Antlerman recalls that his passion for collecting sheds began in 1958. “I, as a ten year old, took a short walk from my parents’ homemade trailer up a creek into the timber,” he wrote on his website, Antlerman.com. “I stumbled onto an old set of elk antlers and packed them back to camp. A few days later I hiked a little further and brought home a couple old white elk antlers. To this day, when I find a shed I get the same rush as I did then. Antler hunting is in my blood.”

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Picnic with the Dead in an Idyllic Greek Village

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The Pontics are a group of ethnic Greeks who prospered on the shores of the Black Sea between the years of 1914 and 1923. Over 350,000 of their population perished at the hands of the Ottomans, Kemalists and neo-Turks during the Greek Genocide, and those who remained were forced to leave their homeland to seek refuge in Greece. But even today, this small community manages to keep its age old traditions alive. One of their most notable customs is the yearly ‘Picnic with the Dead’.

Every year on the Sunday after Easter, also known as St. Thomas Sunday, several Pontic Greek families in the village of Rizana make their way to the local cemetery to picnic on the graves of the deceased. Many of them bring along folding tables and chairs, table cloths, traditional meals, vodka, flowers, and candles to set in the midst of the marble gravestones. No one is allowed to cry as the day is seen not as one of mourning, but of celebration in honor of the departed. Family members are seen smiling and greeting each other, “Christos anesti” (Christ has risen), while children laugh and play amidst the graves.

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Simple Iconspeak T-Shirt Helps Break Down Language Barriers When Traveling Abroad

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If you’re the kind of person who loves travel but find it difficult to break down language barriers, you may want to check out Iconspeak, a T-shirt covered in basic pictographs ranging from clocks to bathrooms. Simply point to the symbol associated with your need, and hopefully, the person you’re talking to will understand. It’s better than having to play charades with strangers, I can tell you that.

Iconspeak is the brainchild of friends George Horn and Florian Nast. They were traveling through Asia in 2013 and found themselves in a remote village with “no infrastructure, zero tourism, and just some locals.” The problems they encountered while trying to communicate their needs to the locals inspired them to start working on a simple yet effective solution to the language gap. Two years later, they came up with the Iconspeak t-shirt.

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Manila Cemetery Known as “Beverly Hills of the Dead” Is Full of Luxurious Mansions

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Death doesn’t put an end to the luxurious lifestyles of some of Manila’s wealthy Chinese residents. They are buried by their loved ones in a mammoth graveyard known as the Chinese Cemetery of Manila. This place is a small neighborhood in it’s own right, with many tombs reaching the size of mansions with all the modern amenities included!

The ginormous mausoleums lining either side of two-way streets within the cemetery are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that many living people can only dream of. They have fully-functioning kitchens and bathrooms with luxury fittings, and plush bedrooms for visiting relatives. Some of these places even have full-time residents who don’t seem to mind sharing their living space with the dead.

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Goose Creek Tower – Alaska’s Whimsical Dr. Seuss House

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The Alaskan wilderness is home to many natural wonders but also an unusual man-made structure that appears to have jumped right out of the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. Located over 130 kilometers away from Anchorage city, the quirky 185-ft edifice known as Goose Creek Tower looks like a bunch of houses built on top of each other. 

This strange tourist attraction was built after a forest fire created a natural clearing among the trees, midway between Willow and Talkeetna. This particular spot apparently offers a beautiful view of Denali – North America’s highest mountain peak – and it’s this detail that explains, at least in part, the strange design of Goose Creek Tower. It started off as a single-storey house, but as the forest started growing back after the fire, owner Phil Weidner began adding additional floors just so he could enjoy the picturesque view from the windows, over the canopy. The completed structure is so reminiscent of the illustrated Dr. Seuss stories by Theodore LeSieg, that locals fondly refer to it as the ‘Dr. Seuss House’.

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