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Bambooze – Chinese Liquor Matured in Living Bamboo Trunks

Bamboo was already one of the most versatile resources available to man, but villages in various parts of China have come up with yet another use for the giant grass – living casks for maturing liquor.

Villagers and liquor producers in several Chinese provinces have come up with a way of using living bamboo trunks to produce alcoholic drinks that are proving very popular with tourists. By using high-pressure injection techniques, they fill up sections of living bamboo trunks with rice wine or sorghum and leave it to mature for several months, up to a year and a half, during which time the liquor is infused with flavone (the liquid naturally released by the trunk) and the sap of bamboo. This apparently gives the liquor a pure, pleasant aroma and detoxifying properties. It also lowers alcohol content, as the plant absorbs part of it.

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This Russian Beach Is Covered With Hundreds of Man-Made Stone Towers

Cape Vyatlina, one of the most picturesque places in the Russian Far East, has come to be known as the Russian Stonehenge in recent years, after people started building stone towers on its rocky beach. Today, there are hundreds of them, and new ones are erected almost every day.

The tradition of building towers at Cape Vyatlina by stacking stones of various sizes on top of each other started in 2015, when a group of activists from Vladivostok built 155 such monuments in celebration of the city’s 155th anniversary. Many of these original towers, some up to 3.5-meters-tall, were destroyed by the collapse of a nearby grotto, but other locals and tourists took it upon themselves to restore them and even add to their number. Today, there are several hundreds of these hand-stacked stone towers covering the beach at Cape Vyatlina and building them has become somewhat of a superstition.

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Italian Winemakers Set Vineyards Ablaze to Keep Them from Freezing

Breathtaking photos of vineyards in northern Italy lit up at night by hundreds of torches have been doing the rounds online for the past week. As temperatures unexpectedly dropped below zero last week, winemakers had to come up with a way to keep the vineyards from freezing, and fire was apparently their best choice.

Farmers usually do their best to keep fire away from their grape vines, but with temperatures expected to reach a freezing -9 degrees C, winemakers had no choice hundreds of torches spread out over several hectares to keep the vineyards from freezing. This technique has long been used by winemakers all over the world to create air movement, which prevents frost pockets from forming. Temperatures under -1 degrees Celsius can cause serious damage to emerging buds, so teams patrol the vineyards all night long, making sure that the fires are burning, to at least mitigate the damage.

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The Brazilian Couple Who Brought a Dead Subtropical Rainforest Back to Life

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado is a world renowned social documentary photographer and photojournalist from Brazil, but few people know that he is also the mastermind behind one of the most amazing environment restoration projects in history. Together with his wife, Salgado has nearly completed the recovery of a single uninterrupted section of the Atlantic Forest, planting millions of saplings over the last two decades.

The story of Instituto Terra, the non-profit organization founded by Sebastião Salgado and his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, began in 1998. The celebrated photographer had recently returned from Rwanda, where he had documented the tragedies of war. The horrors he witnessed during those troubled wars haunted him long after he left Africa, and at one point he completely lost both his faith in humanity and the desire to shoot photos. It was around this time that Sebastião’s parents offered him and Lélia the old farm he had grown up in, and he took the opportunity to return home thinking that the idyllic paradise he remembered would help him heal. However, he found that his home was nothing like he remembered it.

Salgado grew up on a 1,750-acre farm in the state of Minas Gerais 70 miles inland from Brazil’s Atlantic coast. He recalls that, when he was only a boy, the Atlantic Forest covered half his family’s farm and half the Rio Doce Valley, and that the fauna that called it home created a cacophony of sounds every day. But that wasn’t the sight he came home to in the mid 90’s.

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Fuggerei – The German Housing Complex Where Rent Hasn’t Gone Up in 500 Years

In a time when the cost of renting a home seems to be getting higher virtually everywhere in the civilized world, the residents of an idyllic housing complex in Germany are living in an inflation-free utopia. The people of Fuggerei, a walled district on the outskirts of Augsburg, pay only $1 a year on rent, the same as the first tenants who originally moved here nearly 500 years ago.

Fuggerei was founded in 1514 by an affluent businessman named Jakob Fugger, as a social housing complex for the poorest people of Augsburg. The Fugger family moved to the bustling German city in the mid-14th century and established a prosperous cloth trading business. By the 16th century, the Fugger family was one of the richest in Augsburg, and their operations expanded to real-estate and banking. Jakob Fugger was the wealthiest banker in the city, which earned him the nickname “Jakob Fugger the Rich”, but he stayed true to his family’s values, and in 1514 he started the construction of Fuggerei as a way of giving back to the community.

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Japan’s Famous Aquarium Toilet

If you love exotic fish and don’t mind hundreds of them eyeballing you while you answer nature’s call, you’ll probably love using this unique aquarium toilet in Akashi, Japan.

Hipopo Papa (formerly Mumin Papa) Cafe, used to be known as one of the most popular dating spots on Hayashizaki Matsue Coast. It still is, but ever since the owner decided to do something special with the women’s toilet, it’s become famous primarily for being the only cafe in Japan – and probably the world – to feature an aquarium toilet. It’s technically surrounded on three sides by a giant aquarium filled with hundreds of exotic fish and a male turtle, which, considering this is a women’s only toilet, is a bit weird.

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Solothurn – The Swiss Town Obsessed with the Number 11

Solothurn is a picturesque town in the north-west of Switzerland known primarily for its special affinity for the number 11. It seems like everything in this place was designed around this magical number, from the fact that there are precisely 11 churches and chapels, as well as eleven historical fountains, eleven museums and eleven towers in Solothurn, to the rather bizarre clock in the town square that features an 11-hour dial and the number 12 missing.

Although virtually everyone in Solothurn knows about the town’s obsession with the number 11, its origin is shrouded in mystery. Some say it was inspired by a folk legend about magical elves coming down from the nearby Weissenstein mountain to hearten the people of Solothurn, who worked hard but never prospered. The grateful inhabitants started incorporating the number 11, or ‘elf’ in German, as a tribute for the creatures’ aid. But there are also those who claim that the number 11 has biblical connotations, deeming it holy and prophetic. One thing’s for sure, though, Solothurn’s obsession with this number can be traced back centuries.

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Montenegro’s Water Tree – A Rare Natural Phenomenon

The small village of Dinoša, in Montenegro, is home to an old mulberry tree that turns into a water fountain every time it rains heavily.

As we all know, water doesn’t normally gush out of living trees, but at least in this case the phenomenon has a perfectly reasonable explanation. You see, the meadow that the mulberry tree grows in has many underground springs which flood during heavy rainfalls, and the additional pressure pumps the water up through the hollow trunk of the tree and out through a hole a few feet above the ground.

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Conch Island – A Man-Made Island Built Out of Millions of Conch Shells

Conch “Island” isn’t technically an island, but a mountain of conch shells discarded by fishermen in the same place over hundreds of years.

Located just east of Anegada, the second largest of the British Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean, Conch Island is both a stunning tourist attraction and a testimony to the popularity of conch meat in this part of the world. For centuries, local fishermen have been diving in the shallow waters on this side of Anegada in search of these, slow-moving, edible marine snails and many of them have been throwing their large shells in the same spot. The shell mountain that is Conch Island is a result of their perseverance.

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The Levitating Stone of Shivapur, a Controversial “Miracle”

Every day, hundreds of tourists and devotees visit a shrine in Shivapur, a small village about 180 km east of Mumbai, in India, to witness a controversial “miracle” known as the Levitating Stone of Shivapur.

The Shrine of Qamar Ali Darvesh, a Muslim Sufi Saint who lived about 700 years ago, features an ancient stone that reportedly weighs 154lbs (90kg). Lifting this stone off the ground would normally require a lot of strength, but according to believers in the Levitating Stone miracle, it’s possible for a set number of men to lift it up over their heads with only their index fingers, but only after shouting Qamar Ali Darvesh’s name. This phenomenon has fascinated Indian Muslims for centuries, but many believe it’s nothing more than a gimmick.

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Popcorn Beach – A Unique Tourist Attraction That Looks Good Enough to Eat

Fuerteventura, the second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands is mostly known for its white sandy beaches, but few people know that this island also hosts one of the world’s most stunning attractions, a beach that has popcorn for sand.

There are plenty of tourist spots named after things they resemble, even if just vaguely, but that’s not the case of Popcorn Beach. This amazing place genuinely looks like it’s covered with million of white, puffy popcorn, but don’t go putting them in your mouth, as they are actually stony pieces of coral shaped like popcorn by the elements.

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Please Don’t Step on the Fish! Vietnam’s Unique Flooded Cafe

Animal cafes where you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee and pet cute animals like cats, dogs or even sheep have been springing up all over the world, but Amix Coffee is the only cafe in the world where you can relax as dozens of decorative fish swim at your feet.

Located in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, Amix Coffee features two flooded floors filled with hundreds of fish both small and large. They are both insulated with two layers of plastic tarp and furniture legs are wrapped in cotton to minimize friction and prevent damage to the tarp. Each floor covers an area of 20 square meters and the water level is up to 25 centimeters deep. In order to gain access to these man-made ponds full of colorful fish, visitors are required to take off their shoes and clean their feet. They can then enjoy a wide range of refreshments and snacks as Japanese carp and other small fish swim at their feet.

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South Korean Cafe Makes You Feel Like You’re in an A-Ha Music Video

Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 is a uniquely-designed cafe in Seoul’s Yeonnam-dong district that makes visitors feel like they’ve miraculously steeped into a cartoon or a comic.

Remember the song “Take on Me” by Norwegian band A-ha? It’s one of the catchiest tunes of all time, but I remember being fascinated with its music video, as a child. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, a person stepping into the pages of a comic book that comes to life. I still consider it one of the coolest music videos ever made, but you’re probably wondering why I’m mentioning in an article about a cafe in South Korea. Well, it was the first thing that came into my mind when I saw photos of the incredible Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20.

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This Chilean Community Requires Residents to Have Their Appendix Removed

Can you imagine needing to have your appendix removed just to be able to live in your city? That’s exactly what the residents of Villa Las Estrellas, a small Chilean settlement in Antarctica, are required to do in order to live there long-term.

To be able to comprehend such a bizarre requirement, you first need to know a few things about Villa Las Estrellas. In short, this place is probably the closest you can get to experiencing life on another planet. It’s located so far away from human civilization and weather conditions are so extreme that would-be residents must pass a very thorough psychological exam in order to prove that they can live here for a long period of time. In winter time, the whole place is buried under several meters of snow and the hours of daylight are replaced with a few minutes of twilight. The average temperature is -2.3 degrees Celsius, but they can drop to -47 in winter months, making it nearly impossible to even set foot outside the container-like houses.

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India’s Great Banyan Tree Is Its Own Forest

If you were to see the Great Banyan Tree in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden from a distance, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a forest. Spanning more than 14,493 square meters, the tree is the widest in the world—so large that it covers more ground than the average Wal-Mart.

No one is quite sure exactly how old the Great Banyan Tree is due to a lack of official records, but experts estimate that the tree is at least 250 years old; the earliest references to the tree have been found in travel writing dating all the way back to the 19th century. Over the years, the tree has been through a lot. Not only has it survived 2 major cyclones in 1864 and 1867, but its main trunk was also infected with a deadly fungus. This infection meant that the main trunk of the tree needed to be removed in 1925.

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