Chichibugahama – Japan’s Instafamous Mirror Beach

Chichibugahama Beach is a popular tourist destination in Mitoyo City, Japan which rose to fame thanks to photo-sharing social media platforms like Instagram.

If you ever find ourself doubting the power of social media, just remember the story of Chichibugahama Beach. A once obscure seaside destination in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture, this place turned into a magnet for Instagram influencers virtually overnight. It all started in 2016 when authorities in Mitoyo City organized a photo competition to boost local tourism. One of the most eye-catching entries featured two children reflected in the shallow waters of Chichibugahama, and the visual effect was so stunning that the idea of using this mirror effect as a tourist draw turned into a marketing success story.

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Tekesi County – China’s Unique Bagua-Shaped City

Built according to the “Bagua”, or the Eight Trigrams used in Taoist cosmology, Tekesi County has a unique and eye-catching layout that allegedly renders traffic lights obsolete.

Bagua represents the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. It is a complex concept of Taoist cosmology which also has correspondences in astronomy, geography, anatomy, martial arts, medicine, and other disciplines. It’s also an essential tool in the majority of Feng Shui schools, used to map a room or location and see how the different sections correspond to different aspects in one’s life. But one thing the Bagua isn’t really used for is city planning; with one notable exception – Tekesi County, a city of 150,000 people in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

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Ancient Wonder – The 1,600-Year-Old Iron Pillar That Refuses to Rust

The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque complex in New Delhi is home to an ancient wonder of metal work – a 1,600-year-old iron pillar that is exceptionally resistant to rust.

The Iron Pillar of Qutub Minar, as this ancient monument is sometimes referred to, measures 7.21-meters-tall, has a diameter of 41 centimeters and weighs about 6 tons. It’s also more than a millennium and a half old, believed to have been erected during the reign of Chandragupta II, one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire. And even though it has spent all that time outdoors, the Pillar of Qutub Minar shows almost no sign of rust damage. For decades, scientists and metal workers from all over the world speculated about the properties of this unusual marvel, and it wasn’t until 2003 that the mystery was finally cracked.

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Mexican Mountain Road Requires Drivers to Drive on the Wrong Side of the Road

Tackling tight curves on winding mountain roads is complicated enough as it is, but having to randomly drive on the opposite side of the road makes it confusing as well.

Mexico’s Cumbres de Acultzingo or Acultzingo Heights is a mountainous area in the country’s Veracruz State traversed by a winding road that truck drivers found notoriously hard to traverse due to its tight curves. Because large vehicles couldn’t descend through some of these curves without going on the inside lane and causing frequent accidents, someone came up with the idea of switching up the lanes in these tricky sections. These days, driving on the Serra de Acultzingo, as the road is known, you constantly have to pay attention to the road markings and drive on the wrong side when asked to.

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The Indian Town Where Human and Leopard Allegedly Live in Harmony

Bera, a small town in the Indian state of Rajasthan is famous for being the only place on Earth where humans and leopards live in perfect harmony.

India is one of the most densely-populated countries on Earth, and as humanity continues to encroach on the still-uninhabited woodlands and mountains, conflicts between leopards and humans are inevitable. In fact, with human expansion at peak levels and the number of leopards higher than they’ve been in decades, tensions between the two species are growing. But there’s one place where humans and leopards have allegedly been living in peace and harmony for at least a century. Known as “leopard country”, the town of Bera is said to contain the highest concentration of leopards on the planet.

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Car Sickness Hell – A Winding Mountain Road With 600 Hairpin Turns

A 75-kilometer stretch of mountain road in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been dubbed a car sick person’s worst nightmare for its hundreds of hairpin turns.

Known as Pamir Plateau Sky road or the Panlong Ancient Road, the winding road traversing the Kunlun Mountains of  Xinjiang is one of the most visually impressive roads in the world. Seen from above, it looks like a giant grey dragon slithering through the Kashgar region of the Uygur Autonomous Region in China. It officially opened in July of 2019 to facilitate the passage through the Kunlun Mountains for the region’s farmers, but soon became a tourist attraction for driving enthusiasts wanting to test their skills. With an alleged 600 hairpin turns, this road isn’t for the faint of heart or for the car sick.

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This Wooden Shack in the Middle of a Desert Is the World’s Most Remote Post Office

Deep in the Tengger Desert of Inner Mongolia, surrounded by sand dunes as far as the eye can see, lies the world’s loneliest post office, a surprisingly bustling outpost of human connection.

Measuring only 15 square meters, the wooden post office of Tengger Desert is not much to look at, but that’s ok, it doesn’t get too many visitors anyway. Besides, after being abandoned for over 35 years, it actually doesn’t look half bad. Thanks to the efforts of a few intrepid individuals who learned about the existence of an old abandoned desert post office by mistake, it has been given a new lease on life, and thanks to the magic of the internet, it has actually become quite a busy operation.

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Panama’s El Valle de Anton – The Valley of Square Trees

A few miles north of the Panama Canal Zone lies the Valley of Square Trees, a unique tourist attraction where trees of the cottonwood family have rectangular trunks.

Unique in the entire world, this group of square-shaped cottonwood trees grows in a valley created from the ashes of a giant volcano – El Valle de Anton. Featuring hard-right angles, the trunks of the square trees have baffled tourists and scientists alike for several years. Experts from the University of Florida took saplings of the mysterious trees to see if they retain the same characteristics in a different environment, and concluded that their square shape must have something to do with conditions unique to the valley in which they grow. Evidence that the cause of this bizarre phenomenon is deep-seated is indicated by the fact that their tree rings, which represent its growth, are also square.

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This Triangular Mosaic Is the Smallest Piece of Private Property in New York City

New York City is full of unusual plots of land left over from various construction projects, but none as small and emblematic as the Hess Triangle, a private property barely larger than a pizza slice.

The story of the Hess Triangle began in 1910 when the city of New York claimed eminent domain in order to expropriate and demolish 253 buildings, including the Voorhis, a 5-storey apartment building owned by David Hess. The businessman and his family fought the decision, but by 1913, they had exhausted all legal options and had to watch their property be demolished. However, in 1928, while checking property papers, Hess’s heirs discovered that the city had neglected to seize a tiny corned of Plot 55, and quickly filed a notice of possession for it. That’s how the Hess Triangle, the smallest piece of real estate in NYC came to be.

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Unique Tokyo Café Only Serves Struggling Writers Working on Tight Deadlines

The Manuscript Writing Café in Tokyo, Japan only caters to writers working on tight deadlines, providing the motivation and assistance required to make sure they meet those deadlines.

Japan is no stranger to offbeat cafes that sometimes inspire worldwide trends. Remember cat cafes? That popular trend originated in the Asian country, as did, maid cafes, owl cafes, reptile cafes, and even a cafe dedicated to female thighs. And those are just a handful of examples; in reality, Japan has come up with a plethora of intriguing cafe concepts, and somehow keeps coming up with new ones. The latest example is the Manuscript Writing Café in Tokyo’s Koenji neighborhood, a venue that only welcomes writers struggling to meet their deadlines.

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Vozrozhdeniya – Probably the Deadliest Former Island on Earth

Vozrozhdeniya was once an isolated island in the Aral Sea. Today, it’s a wasteland infused with tonnes of anthrax, as well as other exotic and deadly diseases.

The Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest sea on planet Earth, but after the rivers that fed it were diverted by the Soviets to irrigate cotton fields, its waters receded and today it is nothing but a salty-sand wasteland where temperatures frequently reach 60 degrees Celsius and signs of life are scarce to non-existent. But you know what’s worse than a salt-covered wasteland – a salt-covered wasteland infused with anthrax and a plethora of other exotic diseases that the Soviet Union experimented with for years. That’s what makes Vozrozhdeniya one of the deadliest places in the world.

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Portugal’s Anchor Cemetery – A Symbolic Memorial to a Dead Industry

The sand dunes behind Barril Beach on Portugal’s southern Algarve Coast are home to over 200 rusty anchors abandoned there almost 60 years ago by the local tuna fishing community.

O Cemitério das Âncoras (The Anchor Cemetery) is one of the most iconic Sights of the Algarve Coast, yet not many people know its history and meaning. This isn’t just a random place where old ships abandoned their anchors many years ago, but a memorial to a now-defunct trade going back hundreds of years. In 1964, the local community decided to commemorate the death of traditional Bluefin Tuna fishing by burying the anchors that once formed the backbone of the complex tuna traps known as armações. They’ve remained there ever since as a reminder of the effect of industrialization and over-fishing on the locals.

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At Karen’s Diner Attitude From the Waiters Is What You’re Paying For

If your idea of a nice meal out on the town happens to include rude restaurant staff that’s actually paid to insult and ridicule you, booking a table at Karen’s Diner should be on your priorities list.

“Great Food, Terrible Service” is the motto of Karen’s Diner, a new and intriguing fast-food restaurant chain that is currently operating in Australia and the UK. In case you haven’t made the connection yet, the name plays on the popular American slang for an obnoxious and entitled middle-aged customer who is never satisfied and wants to talk to the manager about the most trivial issues. Well, some bright minds decided that this sort of attitude would be perfect for the staff of a restaurant in order to offer patrons a truly memorable experience.

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Areia Prata – Brazil’s Radioactive Beach

The Areia Preta beach in the Brazilian city of Guarapari is famous for its black sand which has external radiation levels of almost 400 times the normal background radiation recorded in the US.

Brazil has hundreds of miles of beaches, but none are quite like “Praia Da Areia Preta”, in Guarapari. The sand in this region, particularly the black sand, contains moderate quantities of monazite, a phosphate mineral rich in several rare-earth elements, including uranium and thorium. Research has shown that background radiation on Areia Preta can reach 175 mSv per year, or 20 μSv/h, while some spots, particularly those with lost of black sand, have radiation levels of up to 55 μSv/h. To put that into perspective, the average radiation exposure level across the United States is about 0.34 μSv/h, while an X-ray gives people a one-time exposure to about 100 μSv.

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China’s Famous ‘Strange Slope’ Appears to Defy Gravity

Strange Slope is a natural tourist attraction in China’s Liaoning Province, where a strange phenomenon causes things to roll uphill and prevents them from rolling downhill.

Located at the foot of Maoshan Mountain, near the city of Shenyang, the Strange Slope scenic area is considered one of the eight natural wonders of Liaoning Province. It was discovered in 1990, when, local stories say, a police officer stopped his car in the area and, taking his foot off the brake, noticed his vehicle slowly rolled uphill, all the way to the top. Word of the bizarre phenomenon spread like wildfire, and before long, people from all over the country, and even from abroad, were coming to see the gravity-defying slope in person. Authorities cleaned the place up, created separate lanes for bikes and cars, and Strange Slope became one of the most popular scenic areas in Liaoning.

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