Beijing’s Haunted Mansion: Chinese Shun Expensive Beijing Property for Fear of Ghosts

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The beautiful three-story French Baroque-style house at Chaonei No. 81 is a well-known anomaly of Beijing. Small courtyard properties in this area of China’s capital city sell for millions of dollars, and yet this once lavish mansion lies in a state of decay. The reason no one will go near it? Fear of ghosts and death.

Local legend has it this amazing mansion was built by the Qing imperial family as a church for British residents of Beijing. In 1949, when the Communists had just defeated the Nationalists and were making their way into the city, the high-ranking Kuomintang official living in the house at the time abandoned his wife, leaving her to face the Communists all by her safe. Devastated, she allegedly hung herself from the rafters of their impressive home. Many believe her troubled spirit has been haunting the place ever since, and few dare venture inside by themselves, especially during the night. The once luxurious mansion is now a dilapidated shadow of its former self, covered with graffiti warning daredevils to stay away and full of empty alcohol bottles and cigarette buts. Despite its location in the center of Beijing, where prices for small properties are in the millions, there are currently no plans to do anything with this particular building. Ghost stories keep potential tenants away, and the building is now on a historic preservation list so it can’t be torn down, just renovated. So everyone seems to be waiting for it crumble on its own.

Chinese-mansion

..

Man Spends $65,000 on Macabre World Tour of Celebrity Graves

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

For most people, an ideal holiday involves gorgeous natural surroundings, famous landmarks and fun activities, but for 38-year-old Mark Dabbs the perfect vacation is all about visiting celebrity graves. So far he has spent around £40,000 ($65,000) traveling across six continents and visiting the final resting places of over 200 famous people.

From the grave of kung-fu legend, Bruce Lee, in Seattle, to the glass coffin of communist leader Mao Tze-Tung, in Beijing, Mark Dabbs, a male nurse from England, has trekked every continent, except Antarctica, in search of famous tombs. He say it all began 20 years ago, when he visited the final resting place of American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in Virginia, USA. He just found it fascinating and since then he has traveled the world in search of more celebrity graves, dragging his siblings and sometimes even his girlfriends along with him. Mark admits most people don’t share his passion for tracking down and visiting the macabre attractions, but says he can’t think of a better way to spend his summer vacations. He considers each tomb a museum that tells the story of a person’s life and he doesn’t mind spending around £2,000 ($3,200) every year on at least 2 or 3 trips to satisfy his curiosity. Mark estimates he has spent at least £40,000 ($65,000) on his macabre hobby since he first started visiting graveyards.

Mark-Dabbs

..

No Bottles or Plates Allowed at Ukraine’s Unique Jar Bar

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

The Jar Bar, in Kiev, Ukraine, is the only place in the world where every item on the menu is served in glass pickle jars. To make sure patrons understand the concept, there’s even a sign on the door that shows bottles, glasses, bowls, cups and any other kind of dishes are strictly forbidden.

Although there are a handful of cafés and bars that use glass jars as dishes, the founders of Kiev’s Jar Bar claim no other venue in the world has taken such a radical approach to the concept as to serve every single item on the menu in jars. From soup, to ice cream, coffee and cocktails everything at this unique venue comes in glasses of various sizes. According to the bar’s official site, eating from a jar reminds people of home, taking them back to their childhood days when they tasted the delicious pickles made by their grandmothers, straight out of the jar. The unusual dishes also make it easy for customers to order their favorite foods and drinks to-go, or take leftovers with them. All they have to do is ask waiters for a jar lid. Apart from being the only available dishes, jars are also used for decoration purposes. The light fixtures are all large glass jars, the bar is lined with pickle jars, and the wallpaper is also jar-themed.

jar-cafe

..

Smog-Covered Hong Kong Installs Clear Skyline Banners for Vacation Photos

4 CommentsStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Hong Kong has one of the world’s most stunning skylines. The problem is it’s becoming barely visible behind the dense curtain of smog that has engulfed several of the city’s districts, and even harder to capture in vacation photos. Unable to fix the air pollution problem, tourism authorities have instead decided to install clear skyline banners where tourists can have their pictures taken.

This week, Hing Kong’s Air Pollution Index reached “very high” levels in Central and Western District, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with very high concentrations of toxic ozone and nitrogen dioxide recorded by local monitoring stations. Apart from the obvious health-related issues, the heavy smoke covering the island city is also hurting the local tourism business. According to Chinese newspaper China Daily, the frequent air pollution has contributed greatly to the decline in tourist numbers, with a recent survey revealing a rise in “complaints focused on the environment at scenic spots” around China. After all, what good is a city’s magnificent skyline if you can barely see it? Luckily, Hong Kong authorities have come up with a novel solution to this problem – they installed a number of panoramic banners displaying a clear view of the city at various scenic spots. Here, people can take smog-free photos of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, to have as souvenirs.

fake-hong-kong

..

Former Monk Has Spent the Last 50 Years Building a Giant Junk Cathedral in the Name of God

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Justo Gallego Martinez, an 86-year-old farmer from Spain, has spent the last 50 years of his life single-handedly building a large cathedral in a suburb of Madrid, without any architectural knowledge or construction experience.

Considering the sheer size of Justo Gallego’s junk cathedral, almost 40 meters (131 feet) tall, with its large dome and spires towering over nearby apartment buildings, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of a single man. But it just goes to show how far people can stretch their limits in the name of a higher purpose. In Gallego’s case, it was his faith and love of God. His mother was very pious and he grew up with a deep Christian faith and an overwhelming desire to dedicate himself to the Creator. After working as a farmer and as a bullfighter, Don Justo, as everyone calls him, joined a Trappist monastery, where he spent eight years as a monk. He was forced to leave the monastery in 1961, after he contracted tuberculosis, but promised himself that if he survived the illness he would dedicate his life to building a  a chapel in the name of the Lady of The Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Marry), who he prayed to during the ordeal. His prayers were answered and he stayed true to his vow, laying the first brick of what would become a unique cathedral, almost 50 years ago.

Justo-Gallego-cathedral3

..

The Game of Gostra – Running Up a Greasy Wooden Pole in Malta

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Every year, on the afternoon of the last Sunday in August, brave young men from all over Malta compete in the traditional game of “gostra”, trying to run all the way to the top of a long greasy pole and snatch one of the three prizes.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the game of gostra was practiced all through the festive summer months, in various locations around the islands of Malta and Gozo. A wooden pole measuring about 10 meters long was mounted on a coal barge and towed to harbor towns and seaside villages around the Maltese coast, where it was smeared with grease and animal fat. Brave local men would try to run up the pole and reach one of the symbolic flags at the top in order to claim a prize. Today, the traditional game is only held in the towns of Msida and Spinola Bay, in honor of St. Joseph and St. Julian. The pole stretches out into the water, and only half of it is covered in grease, but in order to have a higher chance of reaching the flags before slipping off the slippery wood, most competitors prefer to run up the pole, hoping they can maintain their balance long enough to snatch one of the coveted prizes. This sometimes causes them to fall awkwardly hitting the log on their way down into the sea, and injure themselves.

Gostra-game

..

Man Builds 12,000 Square-Foot Castle in the Middle of a Florida Swamp

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

When he moved from New York to Florida over 40 years ago, Howard Solomon took the saying “A man’s home is his castle” quite literally. The artist once known as “The DaVinci of Debris” spent a total of 12 years building a three-storey castle by hand, in the middle of a swamp.

Solomon began working on his unique castle in the 70′s, after he and his family moved to Ona, Florida. The original plan was to build a nice house on the piece of land he had bought in Hardee County, but after realizing the place was actually a big swamp, he decided to construct something high enough to resist any potential floods. He had always been fascinated with medieval castles and this proved to be the perfect opportunity to build his very own 16-century fortress, complete with a bell tower, moat and drawbridge. Howard worked on his architectural masterpiece on and off ever since 1972, and reckons he has spent over 12 years erecting the structure and covering it in aluminum plating, and an additional 4 years building a Spanish galleon in the castle moat. When he first started building his dream home, people thought he was mad, and wouldn’t even let their kids play with his, but over the last 40 years they’ve accepted him into the community, and Solomon’s Castle is now the most popular attraction in the area.

Solomon-Castle

..

Martial Arts Enthusiasts Practice Impossible “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” Kung Fu Moves at Chinese Resort

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Remember those awesome action sequences from the movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, where kung fu masters would float through the air, skim on water and do battle through tall bamboo trees? A Chinese resort is now giving martial arts enthusiast the chance to perform these impossible feats themselves with the help of special effects equipment used on the big screen.

A martial arts theme-park in Kunming, China, has invested around $800,000 in high-tech special effects equipment that gives kung fu fans the chance to perform the impossible stunts of their favorite movie icons. From skywalking to skimming on water, anything is possible at the Wild Duck Lake Resort, thanks to a computer-controlled wire system almost identical to the ones used in blockbuster films. This is apparently the first time people outside the movie business get the chance to live their dreams of becoming legendary kung fu masters, even if it’s just for a few minutes. According to a theme-park spokesman, the computer controls how fast and how far visitors travel on the water and through the air, once they are connected to the wires. So all they have to do is strike a nice pose as their friends and family take photos. Fees for the realistic martial arts experience start as low as $15, so if you’ve always fantasized about starring in your own kung fu flick, this is one chance you don’t want to miss.

kung-fu-theme-park

..

Solo Per Due – World’s Smallest Restaurant Only Seats Two People at a Time

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

If you’re searching for the most private restaurant dining experience possible, look no further than Solo Per Due, a small ristorante in Vacone, Italy, that only features one table and two chairs.

Aptly named “Solo Per Due”, Italian for “just for two”, the world’s smallest restaurant only accepts two people at a time. This unique feature makes the Italian restaurant a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, but especially for lovers. There are no queues, no turns and no waiting, but booking this place for a romantic dinner, especially on holidays like Valentine’s Day can be a real challenge. Only around 1,500 people get a chance to enjoy the unparalleled privacy Solo Per Due has to offer, and it’s this exclusivity that best explains the set price of €250 ($335) per person (not including wine and champagne). The idea behind this unique eatery is that guests enjoy true intimacy and get the full attention of the cooking and waiting staff, which guarantees an extra special dining experience.

Solo-Per-Due-restaurant

..

Indonesian Villagers Beat Each Other with Rattan Brooms in the Name of Brotherhood and Friendship

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Every year, a week after the end of Ramadan, the Indonesian villages of Morella and Mamala hold Pukul Sapu, a unique ritual that has men from the two villages beating each other across their bare backs with rattan broomsticks.

There’s nothing like a good beating to strengthen the bond between members of a community, at according to the people of Morella and Mamala, two villages in the Maluku province of Indonesia. Seven days after the end of Ramadan, the local young men take part in Pukul Sapu, an ancient ritual that translates as “Beating Brooms”. A fitting name, considering it involves participants hitting each other with strips of rattan across their backs until they are all covered in bloody scars. Before the actual beating begins, the men gather to receive the prayers of the village elders which are supposed to provide protection from serious injury during the proceedings. Wearing only short pants and headbands, the brave men enter the arena and split into two groups, facing each other. They then take turns in hitting each other across the back and chest with hard rattan brooms, with the one taking the beating lifting his arms into the air to proudly display his bloody wounds. This is not a mock battle, and the traces left by each lash is more than enough proof, yet the participants take the beating without so much as a flinch or cry of pain.

Pukul-Sapu

..

Scala di Santa Maria del Monte – Probably the World’s Most Beautifully Decorated Staircase

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Located in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, La Scala di Santa Maria del Monte is an old 142-step staircase, each of which are decorated with a different ceramic pattern. It’s a wonder to behold, but during the Spring and Summer seasons it becomes even more breathtaking as locals adorn it with potted flowers and lanterns, creating intricate designs.

Situated 68 kilometers from Catania, the town of Caltagirone has long been famous for its production of pottery. The name of this charming settlement derives from the Arabic qal’at-al-jarar” (“Castle of [pottery] jars”) and befits its longstanding pottery-making tradition perfectly. The talent of local craftsmen can be admired everywhere in Caltagirone, as everything from the palaces, churches and monuments to the gardens and squares of this place are covered in beautiful ceramics. But it’s the splendid Scala di Santa maria del Monte, a 142-step staircase dating back to 1608 that really stands as a testament to the town’s millennial tradition of pottery making. This breathtaking work of art that connects the high part of Caltagirone to the low part, is completely covered in ceramic tiles, with each of its steps featuring a different design inspired by local culture. The Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte is the main attraction of the Sicilian town, and it’s here that locals celebrate their most important festivals, La Scala Infiorata and La Luminaria, during which they use the staircase as a canvas for floral and light masterpieces.

Scala-Infiorata-Caltaragione

..

Chinese Get Their Feet Wet at Chongqing’s Unique River Restaurant

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Aptly named the River Cafe, one restaurant in Chongqing, southern China, has come up with an ingenious way of attracting clients. Taking advantage of a nearby stream, the owners have set up dozens of tables straight on the water, offering patrons a cool escape from the unbearable heat.

With summer temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, the Chinese are always looking for new and enjoyable ways to cool off. The River Cafe, in Chongqing, is inviting locals and tourists to take off their shoes and grab a seat in the waters of a cooling stream. Since it’s too hot to serve their delicious food inside or in the sun, the managers of this popular venue have decided to set up most of the tables straight on the water, under the shade of trees. The pop-up restaurant now has more tables in the stream than it has on land, which can seat up to 300 people at a time. The water doesn’t look very clean, and you can see plastic bottles floating through the plastic tables, but it beats facing the scorching sun or going to overcrowded swimming pools like the famous Dead Sea of China.

River-Restaurant-Chongqing

..

Paradise Lost – England’s Deceptively Inviting Blue Lagoon Is Now Black

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

It was known as England’s  Blue Lagoon and its tranquil turquoise waters really did resemble those of an exotic watery paradise, but the popular swimming spot located near Buxton, was actually a flooded former quarry and its alluring contents were almost as toxic as bleach. That didn’t seem to bother people who came here from all over the country for a quick dip, so authorities had no choice but to dye it black.

Seen from afar, the Blue Lagoon at Harper Hill looked like the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, but as the saying goes, appearances can often be deceiving. Not only was this abandoned quarry full of trash, dead animals and human waste, but its waters had a pH level of 11.3, almost as toxic as ammonia (11.5pH) or bleach (12.6pH). The shoreline was lined with warning signs stating the dangers swimmers would be exposing themselves to – skin and eye irritations, stomach problems, fungal infections, etc. –  if they entered the water, and yet for decades they chose to ignore these warnings, bewitched by the beauty of the lagoon. The attractive color of this place was caused by the surrounding limestone walls which leached calcite crystals into the water, turning it turquoise, and the high alkalinity came from calcium oxide, a by-product of the quarrying process left around the site. Fearing for their children’s safety, locals asked authorities to restrict access to the lagoon, but because it was located on private property, they couldn’t stop people from visiting. So they decided to make it less attractive instead.

Buxton-Blue-Lagoon

..

Danza de los Zancos – The Whirling Stilt Dancers of Anguiano

Comments OffStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Walking on stilts is a daunting task for most people, but for the skilled “danzatores” of Anguiano, Spain, it’s a regular walk in the park. During the annual Danza de los Zancos celebration they take to the streets on wooden stilts measuring some 50 centimeters, and spin rapidly down the town’s steepest alleyways. They risk breaking their necks or smashing their heads against the cobbled pavement to honor La Magdalena (Mary Magdalene).

Every year, on July 22, the town of Anguino hosts one of the oldest, most fascinating fiestas in Spain, the Danza de los Zancos (Stilt Dance). In honor of Mary Magdalene, one of the most popular saints in this part of the country, eight brave and morally upright boys from the oldest families in Anguiano put on brightly colored vests, white shirts and damask yellow skirts, and dance on 50-cm-high wooden stilts. And I don’t mean just bouncing from one foot to another, but whirling at high speeds on steep and narrow alleys with nothing but a human mattress of spectators to catch them if they lose their balance. Did I mention they clap their castanets at the same time?

Danza-de-los-Zancos

..

The Ultimate Thrill Ride – Dangling on the Edge of a Canyon in a Pneumatic Swing

1 CommentStumble it Icon digg it Icon

Located on the edge of a canyon, 1,300 feet above the Colorado River, the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is definitely not your playground swing set. But if you’re an adrenaline junky this might very well be your dream come true.

Glenwood Springs is a small Colorado town famous for its wide variety of family-oriented attractions. In 2011, USA Today named it the ”Most Fun Town in America”, but the Giant Canyon Swing isn’t the kind of ride most parents would ever want their children to go on. This metal beast is perched on the side of a cliff 400 meters above the Colorado River and sends up to four passengers flying 112 degrees above the horizon at about 50 miles per hour. At the highest point, all thrill-seekers can see is the seemingly endless drop below them, which causes them to scream in excitement, fear or both. The swing’s creator, 41-year-old Steve Beckley has only tried it once, and has been too scared to try it again ever since, but he gets a kick out of seeing other’s faces and hearing their screams during the 60-second ride.

Giant-Canyon-Swing

..

Page 5 of 32« First...34567...102030...Last »