Man Spends 50 Years Visiting Every Country in the World

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Calling Albert Podell ‘well traveled’ would be an understatement. 78-year-old Podell, a former Playboy editor, can truly say that he’s seen it all, after spending half a century visiting every country in the world. He’s encountered pretty much everything on his travels, right from guerillas in Yemen, to flying-crab attacks in Algeria, and police interrogations in Cuba. He has chased water buffaloes, broken his bones, and eaten all kinds of weird stuff. He’s been robbed, arrested, and almost lynched!

Podell was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age. “Aged six, I started to collect postage stamps, and where the other kids specialised in certain countries, I wanted a stamp from every country in the world,” he told Daily Mail. “Getting a passport stamp from every one may have been inspired by that.”

“Those little coloured bits of perforated paper also instilled in me a fascination with travel because I wanted to see the lands where all the objects, people, and places depicted on those stamps came from.” So he resolved early on that “there was more to life than hanging around in one city forever.”

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World’s Smallest Park Is No Bigger Than a Flower Pot

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Mill Ends Park, in Portland, Oregon, currently holds the record for the world’s smallest park. With a diameter of just two meters, it only has room for one tree and a few tiny plants, but it’s one of the city’s most popular landmarks.

Mill Ends was originally supposed to be the site of a light pole, but for some reason, the pole never arrived and weeds began to sprout from the hole. Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, whose office overlooked the tiny park, noticed the derelict patch of land and decided to do something about it. He started planting foliage there and even came up with a special column in the local paper dedicated to Mill Ends Park. He managed to create a whole story around the place, including leprechauns living there that only he could see, and tiny shamrocks growing inside the other plants.

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Men Shower Themselves with Molten Iron During Fiery Chinese Celebration

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Every year, during the Lantern Festival, the Chinese village of Nuanquan hosts one of the most spectacular pyrotechnics show in the world. Called Da Shuhua (Chinese for “tree flower) the tradition involves experienced blacksmiths showering themselves with molten iron.

Da Shuhua is believed to have originated over 300 years ago, when local blacksmiths came up with a unique alternative to fireworks. The rich would always celebrate New Year with fire crackers, but poor blacksmiths could not afford them, so they had to rely on their to find a cheaper alternative. Inspired by iron striking, the blacksmiths started melting iron at temperatures of around 1,000 degrees Celsius and throwing it at a large stone wall to create an effect similar to fireworks. In contact with the cold stone, the splashed molten iron would generate beautiful iron flowers that rained down on the brave blacksmiths.

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Japan’s Macho Cafe Is Like Hooters for Women

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Women in Tokyo, Japan, recently got the opportunity to enjoy a visual treat at their very own Hooters-style café. The pop-up venue, called Macho Café, featured muscled men clad in tight vests, serving food to visibly flustered female customers.

According to Macho Café’s official website, the owners asked themselves a very puzzling question” “why are there cafes that offer coffee from carefully selected beans, but no cafes that offer carefully selected macho men?” So they decided to rectify the situation by offering “finest quality premium roast” handpicked bodybuilders to their female clientele.



World’s First Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant Serves the Cutest Dim Sum

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The Japanese creators of Hello Kitty have decided to oblige the character’s massive Hong Kong fan base by giving them the world’s first Hello Kitty-themed Chinese restaurant. Sanrio Co. has teamed up with Chinese restaurateur Man Kwong to create an incredibly cute Hello Kitty dining experience in Hong Kong.

“Hello Kitty is more popular in Hong Kong than in Japan,” said Kwong, who started negotiations with Sanrio in 2013. The official nod came through in April 2014, and since then, he has worked hard experimenting on hundreds of recipes and varieties of dim sum. Each dish was individually inspected, taste-tested, and approved by Sanrio executives. The final menu consists of 37 dishes, ranging from fresh shrimp buns to stir-fried beef and noodles.



Creepy “Death Simulator” Allows People to Experience Being Cremated

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If you’ve always wondered what it feels like to be cremated, this new Chinese game will help quell your curiosity. Aptly named ‘Samadi — 4D Experience of Death’, the death simulator relies on a creepy coffin, dramatic special effects and heat to accurately emulate cremation. The morbid game was launched at Window of the World theme park in Shanghai in September last year.

The game begins with participants taking part in a series of challenges to escape death. The losers are then asked to lie in a coffin and are transported through a fake funeral home incinerator. Once inside, death rites are simulated, and hot air (40˚C)and light projections are used to make them feel like they are being cremated. After the fake cremation, the participant see a womb projected on the ceiling. Then they need to crawl until they reach a soft, round, white, womb-like capsule that signifies rebirth.



Tokyo Hotel Hopes to Attract Business with Godzilla-Themed Rooms

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In movies, the mere sight of Godzilla has people running for the hills, but a new Godzilla-themed hotel in Shinjuku, Japan, is hoping the iconic monster will actually draw in new business.

Set at the very top of the Toho Cinema, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, Hotel Gracery not only features Godzilla-themed rooms but also a 12-meter-high model of the monster’s head on its roof that can be admired from one of the six Godzilla View rooms. Interior decorations include a man-sized statue of Godzilla, a menacing claw hanging on the wall above the beds, classic movie posters and even custom Godzilla-themed toilets.

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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.



The Elkhart Tooth Stone – A Block of Concrete Filled with Human Teeth

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The street corner at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Lexington Avenue, in Elkhart, Indiana, is home to an unusual memorial – a concrete block full of human teeth. While the teeth aren’t visible from afar, a closer look will reveal dozens of molars, canines and incisors sticking out from almost every crack and crevice.

The strange monument was created by local dentist Dr. Joseph Stamp, who practiced for 60 years in the area before he died in 1978. He had an interesting habit of saving every single tooth he extracted, preserving them in a barrel of chemicals in his basement.

At some point during those years, Dr. Stamp lost his dog – a German Shepherd named Prince. The incident left him heartbroken, and as a tribute to his loyal friend, the doctor created the concrete block embedded with thousands of teeth from his collection.

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Beware the Shadows, Ninja Day Is Coming!

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If you happen to be in Japan this Sunday, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more ninjas than usual. That’s because February 22nd is National Ninja Day in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Although not yet an official holiday, Ninja Day has been getting a lot of media attention in Japan, ever since the cities of Iga and Koka started organizing ninja-themed events to boost tourism. Both historical ninja strongholds, they feature a variety of themed attractions, like ninja villages and schools, but authorities go all out on Ninja Day, to really bring out the spirit of the skilled assassins that once thrived there.



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