World’s First Hedgehog Cafe Opens in Japan

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Tokyo is now home to the world’s first hedgehog cafe, the latest in a long list of animal-themed establishments in the city. Located in the Roppongi entertainment district, the cafe is named ‘Harry’ – a play on the Japanese word for hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren’t native to Japan, but they’ve long since been sold as pets in the nation that’s crazy for all things cute. At Harry, 1,000 yen ($9) can buy animal lovers an hour in the company of the prickly yet adorable creatures. The cafe is home to 20 to 30 friendly hedgehogs of different breeds that you can spend time with and even take home. A chalk-written blackboard lists all the available hedgehog breeds available for purchase and their prices by sex. So if customers find it hard to part with the adorable rodents once their hour is up, they have the option to give them a forever home.

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Manipur’s All-Women Market – Over 4000 Shopkeepers and Not One Man Among Them

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Literally translating to ‘Mother’s Market’, Ima Keithel is Asia’s largest all-women market, where all the stalls are run exclusively by women. Located in the heart of Imphal, in the Indian state of Manipur, the 500-year-old vibrant bazaar has 4,000-odd local women trading with thousands of customers each day. The market also serves as a meeting ground for discussions on important social and political issues of the state.

The market’s origin dates back centuries, to a time when Manipur was ruled by kings. During this time, a tradition called ‘Lallup’ was followed, requiring male members of the local Meitei community to serve the king whenever summoned. So the women of the household would take the responsibility of farming and commerce. This instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in them, which has been passed all the way down to the present generation of female traders. Interestingly, to this day, only married women are permitted to trade at the market.

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Krishna’s Butter Ball – A Precariously Perched 250-Ton Boulder Defying the Laws of Physics

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For over 1,300 years, this large rock has been confounding the locals of Mahabalipuram, a beach town near Chennai, in Southern India. The mysterious landmark is perched on hill at a 45-degree angle, balancing off an extremely small surface area without slipping or even budging an inch. Men and even elephants have tried moving it from its precarious position , but every attempt so far has failed.

The locals call it ‘Vaanirai Kal’ (Stone of the Sky God), but the rock is more popularly known as ‘Krishna’s Butter Ball’, referencing Lord Krishna’s favorite food, butter, fallen from the heavens. The gravity-defying rock, measuring 20 ft high and five meters in diameter, is estimated to weigh over 250 tons, which makes it heavier than the monolithic stones of Machu Picchu, or Ollantaytambo. Despite its massive size and weight, Krishna’s Butter Ball is firmly anchored on a four-foot base along the slope of a small hill located on the outskirts of Mahabalipuram. It looks like it might slip any moment and come crashing down the hill, but it has stayed that way for several centuries now.

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The Cat Boat – Amsterdam’s Floating Sanctuary for Cats

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The Cat Boat is one of Amsterdam’s most peculiar attractions. It’s essentially a sanctuary for cats, but what makes it special is that the rescued cats all live aboard a quaint little houseboat that bobs along the Herengracht canal. Although it wasn’t intended to be a tourist attraction, Cat Boat regularly receives about 4,500 visitors a year, most of whom are tourists missing their own cats while on vacation!

The origins of the Cat Boat can be traced back to 1966, when a kind woman named Henriette van Weelde took pity on a stray feline and her kittens and allowed them into her own home. Henriette soon became well known in the neighborhood for her kindness; people would regularly drop off rescued cats at her doorstep and she wouldn’t hesitate to take them all in.

This went on for about two years, after which Henriette simply didn’t have enough room to house more cats. So she came up with a solution – she put them all on an unused houseboat on the nearby Herengracht canal. The feline sanctuary was something of a ‘pirate’ ship for about two decades, operating without the knowledge of the authorities. But in 1987, it finally got a permit and was officially christened ‘de Poezenboot’ (the Cat Boat).

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Harry Potter Themed Coffee Shop Opens in Nevada

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It’s been nine years since the last Harry Potter book and five years since the last movie, but Potter mania is still as strong as ever. The instant popularity of a new Harry Potter-themed cafe in Henderson, Nevada is proof of that. When ‘Bad Owl’ first opened its doors on February 13, hundreds of muggles were already waiting to get in, and it has since then been receiving worldwide attention for its delightfully rich Potter-themed decor and menu.

“There was a line outside even before they opened,” said Harry Potter fan Shelby, speaking to Mugglenet.com. “They were opening late because they were on the local news this morning. We waited in line for about an hour to order. The ambience was perfect with a thick velvet curtain darkening the room and little Harry Potter details everywhere.”

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Caring Husband Creates Giant Scented Flower Garden to Make His Blind Wife Smile Again

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Over 7,000 people visit this beautiful phlox moss garden in Shintomi Town, Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture on any given day in the months of March and April, drawn both by the beauty of this scented purple carpet and the touching story behind its very existence.

The story of this popular tourist spot can be traced back to 1956, when Mr. and Mrs. Kuroki, a newlywed couple, purchased a plot of land in Shintomi. They built a house and a dairy farm on it and worked hard for several years, tending to a herd of 60 cows. They hoped to take a trip around Japan when they eventually retired, but things didn’t quite turn out as they had planned.

At age 52, after 30 years of marriage, Mrs. Kuroki developed an eye condition and went blind a week later. Devastated at the prospect of living with a disability, the poor woman grew depressed and shut herself from the world, choosing a life of seclusion. Mr. Kuroki was saddened to see his normally cheerful wife in so much pain. Because she couldn’t travel across Japan as they had always planned, he wanted to find a way to bring the whole of Japan to her.

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Young Woman Travels the World for Free by Getting Men to Pay for Dates in Exotic Locations

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Most people would love nothing more than to quit their jobs and travel the world, but they simply lack the courage, and most importantly, the funds to do so. A young woman from Alabama has managed to do it though, by meeting rich men on the internet and having them pay for dates in some of the most exotic places on Earth. She’s now in a serious relationship with one of them, and he might just turn out to be ‘the one’.

It all started in December 2014, when 25-year-old Monica Lynn decided that her life was too boring and lacked adventure. So she quit her high-flying job as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in order to find something more interesting. Soon, she stumbled upon MissTravel, a website where people search for partners to go on holidays with.

“I came across Miss Travel in an article about weird websites,” Lynn explained. “I thought, ‘Yes, that sounds weird – but also kinda cool. This website attracts very successful men who don’t have the time to date in the normal way, so this allows them to accelerate the whole thing. They’re going on trips anyway, and they can afford to search through profiles and afford to bring one they like with them.”

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Neft Dashları – A Once Bustling City Built on Oil Platforms in the Caspian Sea

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People have been temporarily living on oil platforms ever since they were created, in the early 20th century, but Neft Dashlari, a giant oil platform complex in the Caspian Sea, roughly 40 miles east of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, serves as a permanent residence to around 1,000 souls. Known as the largest and oldest offshore city in the world, the Soviet-era structure was built in 1949, after engineers found vast resources of oil in the region, thousands of feet beneath the sea floor.

The original foundation consisted of pillars mounted on seven sunken ships, including Zoraster, the world’s first oil tanker. The poles were erected around a central hub, a 17,300-acre artificial island where the main oil wells were located. Between 1952 and 1958, the city grew in size to include 2,000 drilling platforms, joined by a 300-kilometer network of bridge viaducts, spread in a 30-kilometer circle.

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La Colonia Tovar – A Picturesque German Alpine Village in Venezuela

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Venezuela is one of the last places you would expect to find a picturesque German alpine village, and yet… La Colonia Tovar, also known as ‘The Germany of the Caribbean’, is conspicuous for its white houses with timbers and red roofs surrounded by flower gardens, carefully tended fields and creeks with water mills, and its hearty German cuisine of sausages and sauerkraut and large slices of black forest cake followed by a cold pint of beer.

It’s hard to imagine such a place actually exists in a South American country with a predominantly tropical climate, like Venezuela. But travel north to the state of Aragua, about 1,800 meters up in the forests of the Cordillera de la Costa, and you’ll reach this quaint little town reminiscent of alpine Germany. Founded in 1843 by a group of 300-odd immigrants from the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) of the Grand Duchy of Baden, on the eastern bank of the Rhine River, the town still maintains the original cultural imprint of this centuries-old community.

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Startup Lets You Share a Hotel Room with a Stranger to Save Money

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A new startup called The Winston Club is offering travelers the opportunity to book hotel rooms at just 50 percent of their cost. Obviously, there’s a catch – they have to be willing to share the room with complete strangers.

“We started Winston Club because we felt there should be an easy way for people to connect when they’d like a low-cost way to access the comfort and convenience of a hotel,” said founder Byron Shannon. “We wanted a safe, reliable, economical solution that provided a better experience than hostels or CouchSurfing alternatives.”

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The Artistic Water Tanks of Punjab

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The state of Punjab, in northern India, is well known for its rich, vibrant culture, including great food, music, and dance. But what most people don’t know is that the Indian state is also home to some of the most extravagant water tanks in the world.

The concrete structures that the people of Punjab use to store water on the roofs of their houses are hardly ever ordinary-looking or boring. Instead, these ‘designer’ tanks come in a variety of unlikely shapes and sizes inspired by people’s interests and experiences. It’s not uncommon to see water tanks modeled after airplanes, army tanks, ships, birds, animals, and even humans!

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Cliffside Capsule Hotel in Peru Offers Stunning Views, Is Not for the Faint-of Heart

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The Nature Vive Skylodge hotel, in Cusco, Peru, is made up of three transparent capsules attached to the side of a cliff, 1,312 meters above the beautiful Sacred Valley, once the heartland of the Inca Empire. Reaching this unique hotel is an adventure in itself, but once inside the pods, thrill-seekers can enjoy a stunning view of this natural paradise.

Each of the three 24×8-foot hanging capsule suits are built from an aerospace-grade aluminum frame and weather-resistant polycarbonate. Furnished with four beds, a small dining area, and a separate bathroom, the rooms can accommodate up to eight people. The transparent walls allow visitors to enjoy an almost 360-degree view of the Sacred valley, while four ventilation ducts let in the fresh mountain air. High quality mattresses, cotton sheets, down pillows, quilts and curtains for privacy are provided to ensure your your stay is as comfortable as possible.

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These “Walking Trees” in Ecuador Can Allegedly Move Up to 20 Meters per Year

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The Socratea exorrhiza is perhaps the world’s only mobile tree. They say its complicated system of roots also serves as legs, helping the tree constantly move towards sunlight as the seasons change. Walking trees can apparently move up to 2-3 cm per day, or 20 meters per year. That may not sound like much, but it’s pretty much a marathon by tree-standards.

Rainforest guides in Latin American countries like Ecuador have been telling tourists about the amazing walking trees for decades now. The most common version of the story is that the tree slowly ‘walks’ in search of the sun by growing new roots towards the light and allowing its old roots to die. The unusual roots, split from the trunk a few feet above the ground, add to the illusion of the tree having legs.

“As the soil erodes, the tree grows new, long roots that find new and more solid ground, sometimes up to 20m,” explained Peter Vrsansky, a palaeobiologist from the Slovak Academy of Sciences who lived for a few months in the Unesco Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, about a day’s journey from Ecuador’s capital Quito.

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The Balinese “Deaf Village” Where Everyone Knows Sign Language

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In the remote Balinese village of Bengkala every one of the 3,000-odd residents can fluently communicate in kata kolok, a centuries-old sign language, and people with speech and hearing deficiencies are always treated with respect.

That so many people would bother to learn sign language might seem strange, but there’s a good reason behind the unique tradition – the number of hearing and speech impaired in Bengkala is about 15 times higher than the world average and it’s believed to have been even higher in the past. So it’s only natural that, in time, body language took precedence over words, and villagers developed their own unique sign language which has been passed on for centuries.

The high incidence of deafness is apparently caused by the geographically-centric recessive gene DFNB3, present in the village for over seven generations. Parents with normal hearing may have a deaf child, and deaf parents are known to have children who can hear perfectly well. Either way, it seems to make no difference to the villagers, who have long learned to treat everyone the same, without any kind of discrimination.

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This Is Probably the Most Precarious Vehicle Bridge in the World

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There are plenty of dangerous-looking vehicle bridges around the world, but few as adrenaline-inducing as Kuandinsky Bridge, in Russia’s Trans-Baikal Region.

Stretching 570 meters over the Vitim River, this precarious vehicle crossing is just over two meters wide and features no railing or other safety features to keep the cars from falling into the frozen water if anything should go wrong. Its decaying metallic structure is simply covered with old wooden railway sleepers that become very slippery when covered with ice and snow, which is almost all year round, since this is Siberia we’re talking about.

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