The Rig – Saudi Arabia Turns Offshore Oil Platform Extreme Theme Park

As part of its ambitious efforts to attract tourists from across the world, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to turn an abandoned offshore oil platform into an oil-themed extreme theme park.

Named ‘The Rig’, the upcoming offshore theme park is part of the Saudi Vision 2030’s strategy, which aims to diversify the country’s economy and boost its tourism industry in particular. The 1.6 million-square-foot extreme theme park will feature roller-coaster rides, submarines, bungee jumping, and sky diving, among other adrenaline-inducing amenities, as well as three hotels and 11 restaurants across The Rig’s interconnected platforms.

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Les Grands Buffets – Probably the World’s Most Impressive All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Les Grands Buffet à Narbonne is a unique all-you-can-eat buffet in Narbonne, France, where you can stuff your face with the most decadent dishes of French cuisine, in a luxurious environment, and without breaking the bank.

While the above paragraph may sound like the beginning of a sponsored post, that is most certainly not the case. I only discovered Les Grands Buffet yesterday, while on my daily session of internet surfing for interesting topics to write about, when some photos of what looked like a lobster fountain caught my eye. It turned out to be just one of the many eye-catching arrangements at the Les Grands Buffet in Narbonne, France, a unique all-you-can-eat-buffet that only serves the best dishes of French cuisine, from lobsters to foie gras and cassoulet. It’s the kind of place that, as a gourmand, you simply have to visit at least once in your life.

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Pressing 1,000 Buttons Is the Perfect Way to Complete an Elevator Button Factory Tour

An elevator button factory in Japan allows visitors to test its vast collection of buttons by pressing no less than 1,000 of them on a specially designed display.

Shimada Denki Seisakusho is a specialized manufacturer of custom-made elevator buttons and arrival lights based in Tokyo, Japan. Founded in 1933, the factory is a piece of Japanese industrial history and conducts guided tours for people interested in its early beginnings and the way it makes its vast array of elevator buttons. It’s a fascinating visit, I’m sure, but the highlight of the tour has to be the ‘1,000 Buttons’ display, which, as the name suggests, is made up of rows upon rows of different elevator buttons that light up when pressed.

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Sweden Hills – An Idyllic Piece of Sweden in Japan

Walking through the streets of Sweden Hills, with its traditional read-and-white Swedish houses, Swedish flags and traditional Swedish outfits, you’d never guess you were on the island of Hokkaido, in Japan.

Located in Tōbetsu, about 30 kilometers from Sapporo, the largest city on Hokkaido, Sweden Hills (スウェーデンヒルズ) was inspired by the visit of a Swedish ambassador in the area. During their visit, the Swedish diplomat remarked how similar the climate and landscape were to his native land, and that inspired developers in the area to build a settlement modeled on idyllic Swedish towns. Planning started in 1979, and the actual construction began in 1984. Today, Sweden Hills or Suēden Hiruzu is home to about 400 permanent residents, as well several hundred who only vacation here. It’s safe to say they are all massive fans of Swedish culture.

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This Indian Temple Is Home to a ‘Vegetarian’ Crocodile

Sri Ananthapura temple in north Kerala’s Kasaragod district is allegedly home to a vegetarian crocodile named ‘Babiya’ who has been living there for over 70 years.

Pictures of a large crocodile inside the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Lake Temple made international news headlines last year, boosting the small Hindu temple’s popularity. But in reality, this was one of the few times that the giant reptile had entered the temple, as it spends most of its time in an adjacent pond, waiting for the priests to bring it the daily meals, which are always vegetarian. If the priests are to be believed, Babiya the crocodile has been living solely on cooked rice for as long as he’s been at the temple, which adds up to over seven decades.

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The Tiny Russian Village Where Everyone Knows How to Walk a Tightrope

Tsovkra-1, a small village in the mountains of Russia’s Dagestan autonomous republic, is famous for being the only place in the world where the entire able-bodied population knows how to walk a tightrope.

No one knows exactly how the tightrope-walking tradition of Tsovkra-1 (named ‘1’ because of another Tsvokra village nearby) began, but one thing is for sure – for the last 100 years, every able-bodied man, woman, and child in the village has learned the walk a tightrope, and many have gone on to become circus performers. Although Tsovkra-1’s population has dropped from around 3,000 in the 1980s to under 400 today, all those who remain are trained in the art of tightrope walking.

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Route 36 – Bolivia’s Notorious Cocaine Bar

Route 36 is an illegal pop-up bar in the Bolivian capital city of La Paz notorious for being the world’s first and only cocaine bar.

South America is home to many popular tourist attractions, like the ruins of Machu Pichu, the Salar de Uyuni salt desert, or Angel Falls, but when it comes to drug tourism, there’s one place that everyone puts on their must-visit list. Route 36 is probably the only place in the world where you can walk in and order cocaine from the bar without having to worry about the legal consequences. Aimed exclusively at foreign tourists looking to indulge in some high-purity cocaine – no Bolivians allowed – Route 36 has been around for at least 12 years, during which time it has become famous as the world’s only cocaine bar.

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The World’s Oldest Grape Vine Has Been Around For Nearly 500 Years

The Slovenian city of Maribor is home to the world’s oldest grapevine still producing fruit, a resilient plant that dates back to the year 1570, when the city was facing an Ottoman invasion.

The Old Vine is the only plant in the world with its own dedicated museum, the Old Vine House, once part of the city wall. It grows on the side of this historic building and still produces an annual harvest of around 35 to 55 kg of grapes, enough to produce 15 to 35 liters of wine, which is bottled in special 2.5 dl bottles designed by famous artist Oskar Kogoj. Only about 100 bottles are produced every year, most of which are used as a special protocol gift. The Old Vine bears grapes of the “Žametovka” or “Modra kavčina” variety, one of the oldest domesticated noble vines in Slovenia.

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The Dancing Mangrove Trees of Sumba Island

Indonesia’s remote Sumba Island is famous for a great many things, but above all its uniquely shaped mangroves, dubbed “dancing trees” for the way they seem to sway with the setting sun in the background.

Calm waters, a white sandy beach, and inviting waters are all things you can expect to find at Walakiri Beach, one of the top tourist spots on Sumba Island. But that’s not why people flock to this small tropical paradise, as they can all be found somewhere else as well. What draws people to Walakiri are the dozens of unique mangrove trees lining the beach, some of which are so bizarrely shaped they almost look like they are frozen in a dancing motion.

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Gaet’ale Pond – The Saltiest Body of Water on Earth

Located near the Dallol crater in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression is Gaet’ale Pond, a small pool of water with a salinity of 43%, making it by far the saltiest body of water on Earth.

To put into perspective just how salty Gaet’ale actually is, you should know that the Dead Sea, the world’s most famous hypersaline body of water, has a salinity of 33.7%, while the world’s oceans have an average salinity of 3.5%. The water in this small pond is so overly saturated with iron salts that it feels greasy on the hand, as if it were oil. The locals in this part of Ethiopia sometimes call it “oily lake”, because of how oily the water feels. But some call it “killer lake”, because of the toxic gases emitted through the surface of the water, and the perfectly preserved carcasses of birds and insects on its shores are warning of the danger of getting too close to the water.

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The Hitachi Tree – A Beloved Japanese Corporate Symbol That Grows in Hawaii

Ever since 1975, a majestic monkeypod tree growing on the Hawaiian island of Oahu has been the symbol of electronics and technology giant Hitachi, making it one of the most beloved corporate symbols of Japan.

The so-called “Hitachi Tree” is one of the several monkeypod trees growing in the privately-owned Moanalua Gardens, once the childhood home of King Kamehameha the IV, but it gets by far the most attention from tourists, with staff members claiming that around 1,000 people visit it every day. Most of them are Japanese, and there’s a good explanation for that. The tree has been used as a symbol by the Hitachi Corporation for nearly five decades, and millions of Japanese grew up seeing its beautiful crown on TV every day and humming its very own catchy jingle.

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The World’s Fastest Roller Coaster Requires Riders to Wear Safety Goggles

Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, reaches a top speed of 240 km/h in just 4.9 seconds and requires riders to wear safety glasses to protect their eyes from impact with insects or grains of sand.

As part of the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi, the Formula Rossa roller coaster was designed to emulate the Formula 1 experience, and even features a cart shaped like an F1 supercar. The track itself was inspired by the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, featuring a series of “sharp turns and sudden drops” capable of generating up to 4.8 G. But what really sets this roller coaster apart from the rest is the speed. As the fastest roller coaster ever built, it reaches a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). It also goes from 0-100 km/h in just 2.0 seconds, thanks to a hydraulic launch system similar to that of steam catapults on aircraft carriers.

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Australian Golf Course Pond Is Home to Aggressive Bull Sharks

You’ve probably heard of crocodile-infested golf course ponds before, but one unique golf course in Australia is home to an even greater threat that makes water hazards truly dangerous – sharks.

The 14th tee at the Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane is a tricky one, as it’s close to a 21 hectare, 14-meter deep lagoon that happens to be the home of a dozen full-grown bull sharks. They’ve been around since the late 1990s, and even though the species is notorious for its aggressiveness, especially against humans, the bull sharks of Carbrook have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. The club even has a monthly tournament named after its unusual inhabitants, Shark Lake Challenge.

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The Wall of Hives – Box-Covered Cliffside In China Is a Unique Wild Bee Sanctuary

A near-vertical cliff wall in the mountains of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, China’s Hubei Province, is home to over 700 wooden boxes which make up one of the country’s last sanctuaries for native wild bees.

Beekeeping has been carried out in China since at least the 2nd century AD, and roughly half of the world’s supply of honey comes from the Asian country, but few know that over 80% of the native bee population is now extinct. The introduction of the European honey bee (Apis Mellifera) is considered the main cause of the drastic decline of native Chinese bees. It has brought viral diseases, has been known to attack Chinese honeybee hives, and interfere with its mating rituals. Today, the Chinese honey bee (Apis Cerana Cerana) is listed as an endangered species, and the cliff-hanging hives of the Shennongjia Nature Reserve make up one of the few protected sanctuaries in the country.

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World’s Largest Rhythmic Spring Stops Flowing Every 15 Minutes

Just east of Afton town, at the foot of a rocky mountain in Wyoming, lies one of the world’s most mysterious natural wonders – a rhythmic spring that intermittently stops and starts flowing around every 15 minutes.

Only a few rhythmic springs exist in the world, and Intermittent Spring in Wyoming’s Swift Creek canyon is the largest of them all. As its name suggests, this peculiar spring flows intermittently. You will see a large quantity of water using out of a hole in the mountain and then flowing down forming a large creek for about 15 minutes, and then dry up for another 15 before the cycle starts all over again. The reasons for this intermittent flow are not entirely understood, but scientists have a pretty sound theory.

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