The Breathtaking Glass Temple of Johor Bahru – A Shining Wonder of Malaysia

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In the city of Johor Bahru, close to Malaysia’s southern border with Singapore, lies one of the world’s most amazing pieces of architecture – a Hindu Temple covered almost entirely with glass. It’s called the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman temple, and it’s one of the must see attractions of Malaysia.

Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman is one of the oldest temples in the state of Johor. It started out as a small shelter, built in 1922, and grew steadily over the years, but its true expansion started in 1991, when the current chief priest, Sri Sinnathamby Sivasamy, inherited the administration of the temple from his father. He became the driving force of this once humble hut, and committed himself to turning it into a beautiful Hindu place of worship. Despite facing many challenges, Sivasamy managed to expand and completely rebuild the temple in just five years, and in 1996 it was reopened to the public. Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman had already transformed into an impressive display of Malaysian architecture, but it would soon become a truly unique Hindu sanctuary, unlike any other.

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Real-Life Shrek and Fiona Have Their Very Own Fairy Tale Castle

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A Ukrainian couple from the village of Akimova, in the Zaporozhye region have spent 10 years building their own fairy tale castle. And because of their resemblance to the popular animation characters, they are known as Shrek and Fiona by the locals.

Anatoly and Larisa Galitsky love children, so one day they decided to built a castle-themed cafe where they could come and play in a fairy tale setting. The courtyard was supposed to be full of swings and carousels for the kids to enjoy, while the castle interior was designed to look like what they read in popular stories. But alas, the real world has its own villains, and in the Galitskys’ case it was the local sanitation department who just wouldn’t authorize the build of a public cafe on the site of an old landfill. After several attempts to convince the authorities to approve their project, Anatoly finally decided to give up and make his castle into a unique residence. The real-life Shrek drew up the plans himself, and after 10 long years, he and his beloved Fiona finally have a castle to call their own. The entire structure covers an area of 300 square meters, has three large halls, a bedroom and a huge kitchen. The three stone walls also house a bathhouse and a garage. Of the castle’s six pointy towers, only one is actually hollow, the rest are just for show.

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Unique Spanish Festival Celebrates Near Death Experiences

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Did you manage to survive a near death experience during the past year? Well then, congratulation, you’ve earned the privilege of being placed in a coffin and paraded through the streets of Las Nieves, as part of a festival called La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme.

The small town of Las Nieves is located in the isolated northwest part of Spain called Galicia, where pagan rites have been a part of local culture since anyone can remember. Although it has tried very hard over the centuries, the Catholic Church has never been able to fully integrate their teachings here, and witches or evil spirits still exist in people’s spiritual beliefs. La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme is one of the Church’s attempts to adapt its dogma to the region’s more primitive beliefs, a sort of “Catholicism meets Paganism” type of event which has often been labeled as one of the most outrageous religious pilgrimages in the world. The unique event that takes place every year on July 29 celebrates those who have managed to cheat death in the previous 12 months by placing them in coffins and parading them through the town, and honors Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the patron of resurrection.

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Spassky Cave Church – A Russian Wonder Carved in Stone

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On the banks of the Don River, in the picturesque Voronezh region of Russia lies one of the most fascinating tourist attractions this country has to offer  - the Spassky Cave Church. For hundreds of years, this place has been at the mercy of the elements, then it had to face communist persecution, yet it still stands as a bastion of Russian Christianity.

It’s believed the first caves were dug into the cretaceous mounts of Kostomarovo before the adoption of Christianity in Russia. Hermit monks would use these austere cell-like spaces to hide  from persecution, and it wasn’t until the 12th century that the first rock monastery was carved in the region. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact date the Spassky Cave Church appeared near the small Russian village of Kostomarovo, due to the lack of clear historical evidence, but it is now considered one of the most incredible monuments of ancient architecture in Russia. Dug into the cretaceous rocks known as “diva” in the Voronezh region, this unique holy place has a rugged exterior that hints at Byzantine influences, but its interior is much more polished, featuring straight walls, rounded arches and Orthodox decorations. It can accommodate 2,000 people and welcomes thousands of pilgrims from all over Russia, every year.

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Tasmania’s Town of Murals – A Colorful Outdoor Art Gallery

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If you didn’t believe in the power of art to change an entire community’s history and fortune, then Sheffield, also known as Tasmania’s Town of Murals, is the perfect example to convince you.

Despite being located in a spectacular natural setting, at the foothills of Mount Roland, in north-western Tasmania, the small town of Sheffield needed something more to help it overcome a steady economic decline. The population of this typical Tasmanian settlement went up dramatically when construction of several hydroelectric plants began in the area, but once the development was complete, workers started moving away to newer prospects, which led to a decline both in population and local economy. By the mid 1980s, the people of Sheffield realized the gorgeous setting wasn’t enough to attract enough tourists to boost their economy, so they formed a tourism association that decided to follow the example of a Canadian town that had a similar economic clump, and turn Sheffield into an outdoor mural art gallery.

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San Pedro Prison – Bolivia’s Most Bizarre Tourist Attraction

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San Pedro Prison is the largest in La Paz, Bolivia, housing around 1,500 inmates,  but that’s not what makes it special. Unlike most penitentiaries around the world, this place is a self-organized community with its own market stalls, restaurants, hairdressers and even a hotel. Oh, and no guards.

You’ve probably heard of or seen special prisons before. A few months ago we wrote an article on Norway’s Bastoy Island, where prisoners have hotel-like accommodations, are allowed to walk around freely and engage in a variety of relaxing activities. Today we take you on a tour of San Pedro, in La Paz, Bolivia, a sort of jail town where prisoners are free to live with their families and buy whatever they want without fearing repercussions from the guards. In fact there are no guards inside the large prison, or bars on the cell windows, so inmates have the relative freedom of going wherever they please. The police don’t interfere with the affairs of the inmates, who are expected to resolve their own issues with the help of representatives elected democratically.

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Thames Town – A Little Piece of England in China

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It’s no secret the Chinese wrote the book on knock-offs, but did you know they copy whole towns these days? Thames Town, in Shanghai, is a replica of small English town complete with everything you might expect, except the people.

“I wanted the properties to look exactly the same as those in the United Kingdom. I think English properties are very special. When we decide to learn from others, we should not make any improvements or changes.” That’s what James Ho, the head of Shanghai Hengde Real Estate, the company in charge of building Thames Town, told Reuters back in 2006, when the weird settlement was inaugurated. The buildings of Thames Town copy the real ones in England so closely that complaints have been filed by English pub owners, and this genuine British look was exactly what was supposed to draw people to this place. Only, like many other ambitious and expensive Chinese projects, Thames Town failed to impress a lot of people and is now virtually a ghost town in Shanghai, the city that drive’s China’s economy.

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Tang Du Zoology – Dining in China’s Indoor Natural Habitat

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There are plenty of cool places to eat at in China, but one of the most amazing has to be the Tang Dousheng State Park, also known as Tang Du Zoology. This unique venue spreads over 1,600 square feet and features over 1,500 exotic plants and various animals.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t yet had the chance to dine in a place larger than three NFL football fields, so the Tang Dousheng State Park in Taiyuan, an industrial city about 400km from Beijing, sounds pretty special to me. But it’s not just the size that makes this place stand out from other food joints in China. Inaugurated in 2005, Tang Du Zoology was meant to be an indoor “natural habitat” full of exotic plants, rugged rockery and rare animals, where people could experience fine Chinese cuisine in a wild-like environment. Usually you have to go outside for a breath of fresh air, but in Taiyuan, you have to step inside this amazing restaurant to let your lungs know what they’ve been missing out on. The place also serves wide range of Chinese food styles (Guangdong, Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui) but the food is not the first reason to dine at Tang Dousheng State Park.

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Guolizhuang – Beijing’ Famous Penis Restaurant

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They couldn’t pay me enough to try a bite of cooked animal genitalia, but there are people who would spend hundreds of dollars on delicacies like cooked yak penis or sheep gonads. These are the kind of foods that have made the Guolizhuang Restaurant so popular in China’s capital city.

According to a well-known saying, “Chinese eat anything with four legs, except tables. And everything that flies, except airplanes,” and the food served at the Guolizhuang Restaurant, in Beijing is proof of that. This bizarre establishment opened its gates in 2006, offering all kinds of dishes with animal genitalia as the main ingredient. Many Chinese believe animal penises increase male potency and do wonders for women’s skin, so word about the culinary wonders served at the restaurant on Dongsishitiao Street spread quickly, and the owners were happy to expand their business. There are now several franchises throughout Beijing and one in Atlanta’s Chinatown.

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Dining with the Dead at India’s New Lucky Restaurant

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In a land like India, where life and death intertwine so naturally, and reincarnation is such an important part of religion, what better place to build a restaurant than in the middle of an old Muslim cemetery?

They say the milky tea and buttery rolls at the New Lucky restaurant in Ahmedabad, India, are to die for, and I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with all the graves scattered between the tables. The bustling establishment is build right on top of a cemetery, but that doesn’t seem to bother the clientele who comes in to enjoy a refreshing cup of milk tea and some soft rolls. In fact, Krishan Kutti Nair, the owner of the creepy restaurant thinks the location is good for business. ”The graveyard is good luck. Our business is better because of it”, he says.

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The Fragile Porcelain House of Tianjin

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Zhang Lianzhi, a 50-year-old porcelain collector from Tianjin, China, has spent four years decorating an old house with hundreds of millions of ancient porcelain fragments and tons of natural crystals. It’s now known as the Porcelain House or Yuebao House.

The Porcelain House of Tianjin opened its gates to the public on September 2nd, 2007, onChifeng Street in Heping District. The old French-style building has a history of over 100 years. It was originally the home of a central finance minister in the late Qing dynasty, and was later converted into a bank, after the founding of New China, in 1949. But after the bank changed its location, the beautiful building was left deserted for several years, until porcelain collector Zhang Lianzhi bought it for 1 million yuan ($160,000). He then spent the following four years turning it into a unique edifice, decorated with porcelain dating from the Tang (AD 618-907) to the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Now the Porcelain House is the most eye-catching building in Tianjin, and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

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Optical Illusions at South Korea’s Awesome Trick Eye Museums

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Planting a kiss on Mona Lisa’s cheek, riding the legendary Pegasus and even getting peed on by a baby, it’s all possible at one of South Korea’s Trick Eye Museums.

I’ve never been to Korea, but apparently people there, like the Japanese, love to take photos of themselves with cool stuff, so it’s no wonder they’ve created a bunch of tourist attractions where people can immortalize themselves doing the craziest things. They’re called “trick eye museums” and feature various well-executed trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye) artworks that either look like they’re coming out of the frame, or that you’re stepping in. If you manage to get a shot from the right angle, you can get some really cool photos of yourself interacting with the paintings. Judging by the photos I’ve found, these places are lots of fun.

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The Future Is Now – China Opens Robot-Operated Restaurant

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Well, it’s not exactly as advanced as you’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, but China’s colorful robot-themed restaurant can be a sign of things to come.

They’re probably going to render us extinct one day, so we might as well enjoy their servitude, while it lasts. A unique restaurant, in Harbin, China’s Heilongjiang Province, has 18 different robots doing all kinds of jobs, from ushering in guests to waiting tables and cooking various dishes. All the robots were designed and created by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, they invested around 5 million yuan ($790,000) in the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($31,500 – $47,000). With an average cost per dinner of between $6 and $10, they won’t be recovering their investment anytime soon, but it is great advertisement for what the robot company can create.

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Mr. Kanso – Japan’s Weird Canned Food Restaurants

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I bet you’d have never thought a restaurant that serves only canned food could ever become popular. Well, it can in Japan.

Eating cold food from  metal cans with plastic cutlery, is not everyone’s idea of a good eating out experience, but Osaka’s Kanso Restaurant has been offering this exact type of experience for a while now and has enjoyed great success. Things have been going so well that Clean Brothers, the restaurant and cafe company behind the bizarre diner, has begun franchising the idea throughout Japan, under the name Mr. Kanso. And I’m not talking disaster shelters or anything like that, but big cities like Tokyo and Nagoya. The original Kanso opened in 2002, and there are currently 17 branches, 14 of which are franchises, but the number of interested franchisees is growing steadily.

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Bovine Boarding at Pakistan’s Traditional Bull Races

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If you think surfing and snowboarding are extreme sports, then you’ve probably never seen what happens in Pakistan, during traditional bovine races. It involves bulls, a board and dirt.

Tens of thousands of people gather whenever there is a bull race held in Pakistan. They are usually the highlight of festivals organized in rural areas of the Asian country, and attract lots of spectators due to their thrilling nature. Watching a bunch of oxen running alongside each other might not be your idea of a fun time, but add a man on riding a board on a dirty track trying to guide the animals, and things become pretty exciting. The traditional competition  attracts landlords and farmers from all around the province where the race is held, and they all bring their fastest and strongest bulls in hopes of gaining a reputation.

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