Kongthong, the Indian “Whistling Village” Where Everyone Has a Song for a Name

Kongthong, a remote village tucked away in the hills of India’s Meghalaya state, has a unique, centuries-old tradition where every inhabitant is given both a regular name and a song at birth, both of which become their identity.

Kongthong was recently nominated as India’s no. 1 recommendation for the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s ‘Best Tourism Villages‘ contest, both for its natural beauty and hospitable dwellers, and its unique naming tradition. The 650-or-so people who call Kongthong home, have a normal name that they use for official purposes, as well as unique tunes composed for them by their parents at birth. These songs are made especially for them, are used as their bearers’ names throughout their life, and die with them when their time comes. Because everyone in Kongthong uses their song name locally, the beautiful community has become known as India’s Whistling Village.

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Baljenac – Croatia’s Famous Fingerprint Island

Located off the coast of Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea, Baljenac is a tiny island covered by a series of dry-stone walls that make it look like a giant fingerprint when seen from above.

The oval-shaped island of Baljenac is covered by a 23-kilometer-long network of dry-stone walls. you’d think it was an ancient labyrinth, if not for the fact that the walls are only about waist high and designed solely to make agriculture easier in an inhospitable place. The rocky terrain and strong winds aren’t exactly ideal for plant cultivation, so the inhabitants of the nearby island of Kaprije built these stone walls to separate their crops and offer them some protection. It’s a technique used in other parts of Europe, like England or Ireland, but nowhere else do these walls imitate the pattern of a human fingerprint as they do on Baljenac Island.

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A Stay at the World’s Most Remote Hotel Will Cost You $35,000

Perched on the ridge of the Don Sheldon Amphitheater of Denali’s breathtaking Ruth Glacier, in Alaska, and reachable only by air, Sheldon Chalet is famous as the world’s most remote hotel.

Alaska’s Denali National Park stretches six million acres and is a shelter for grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves and other wildlife. It’s one of the most beautiful places you can visit in the United States, but also one of the most inaccessible. For example, the Don Sheldon Amphitheater, a glacial valley situated at an elevation of 6,000 feet (1,829 meters), was once only accessible by ski-equipped plane, but after the completion of the luxurious Sheldon Chalet, private helicopter rides also became an option.

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No One Has Been Able to Locate the Source of This Mysterious Spring

For centuries, people have been asking themselves what the source of the underground spring known as Fosse Dionne spring in France’s Burgundy region might be, but they never got to the bottom of it, because they literally couldn’t get to the bottom of it.

The Fosse Dionne is a huge upsurge of water around which the town of Tonnerre was built. For as long as anyone can remember it has been spewing massive amounts of water, with a flow of around 311 liters of water per second on a regular basis, which can increase to 3,000 liters per second in rainy weather conditions. The Romans used it for drinking water, the Celts considered it sacred, and the French used it as a public bathhouse during the 1700s, but no one has ever been able to locate its source. Many have tried, some have died trying, but the source of the Fosse Dionne remains a mystery.

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Life-size Fire-Breathing, Three-Headed Dragon Statue Draws Crowd to Russian Village

In recent years, the village of Kamenka in Russia’s Lipetsk region has become famous as the home of Zmei Gorynich, a giant three-headed statue of one of the most iconic villains of Slavic folk stories.

The “Kudykina Gora” family park on the outskirts of Kamenka village has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lipetsk largely thanks to a single exhibit – the statue of Zmei Gorynich, an “extremely realistic” and “frighteningly attractive” rendition of the main antagonist in dozens of Russian folk stories and legends. Created by Ukrainian sculptor Vladimir Kolesnikov, the impressive statue stands about 15 meters high and is about as large as you’d expect a fearsome three-headed dragon to be. Did I mention it also breathes fire and screams menacingly from time to time?

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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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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 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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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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Al Naslaa – Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Rock Formation

Saudi Arabia’s Tayma Oasis is home to a 4,000-year-old geological mystery – a strange rock formation perfectly split down the middle with the precision of a laser beam.

The world-famous Al Naslaa rock formation is made up of two large sandstone boulders supported by a natural pedestal that appears much too small for its purpose. But what really draws people’s attention is the perfect split between the two boulders, which appears to have been done with a powerful laser beam. The almost flawless split has inspired lots of speculation on the internet, with some suggesting that Al Naslaa is proof that ancient civilizations may have been more advanced than history tells us.

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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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