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Thamkrabok Monastery – World’s Toughest Rehab Clinic

Although the names of those who get treated here are never revealed, Thamkrabok Monastery has had many famous patients, from movie stars to high ranking politicians.

Hidden away in a forest, 140 km north of Bankok, Thailand, the Buddhist Monastery of Thamkrabok takes in alcoholics and drug users from all over the world. Unlinke famous detox clinics like Betty Ford (California), or Priory (London), this Thai monastery doesn’t have paparazzi lurking around, and it’s a lot cheaper. One month at Betty Ford Clinic costs $23,000, while just one week at Priory amounts to 5,000 pounds. At Thamkrabok Monastery, all you need is $3 for food, because treatment and accomodations are supported by donations.

Photos by GETTY IMAGES

The rehab treatment at Thamkrabok lasts 10 days, and only those who come of their own free will, are willing to follow all instructions, and are committed to kicking their habit for good, are welcome. When they decide to go to Thamkrabok Monastery, patients must realize they are in for a rude awakening. No matter their social status or wealth, patients will have to sleep in a mass dormitory, wake up very early and take every medicine given by the monks.

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The Mysterious Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad

Located on the thin Curonian Spit that splits the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, lies one of the strangest natural phenomena on Earth.

Known as the Dancing Forest by caretakers of Curonian Spit National Park and as the Drunken Forest, by locals, this unusual pine forest is made of trees of various shapes, most of them twisted in circles and spirals, along the ground.

According to tourists, the Dancing Forest looks more like a site near Chernobyl, with 20-year-old pines tied into natural knots and loops, like lumpy contortionists. A few years ago, the park manager invited students from local universities to conduct studies, and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Since then, several theories emerged, including one suggested by a psychic who said the forest is located on a spot where massive amounts of positive and negative energies collide. Others say the causes are geological, that it must have something to do with the unstable sandy soil. But the most widely accepted theory is that the Dancing Forest was manipulated by the powerful winds blowing in the area.

Whatever the reason, the Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad is definitely an interesting site, especially if you’re into strange natural phenomena.

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Cal Orko – The Dinosaur Wall of Bolivia

A cement quarry near Sucre is home the world’s largest site of dinosaur tracks, known by the locals as Cal Orko.

More than 68 million years ago, thousands of dinosaurs flocked at Cal Orko (a lakeside in those times) in search of food and water. This explains the over 5,000 dinosaur tracks, laid in around 350 criss-cross trackways, on a crumbling wall. The most amazing thing about Cal Orko is it features footprints from 330 dinosaur species, from the Cretaceous, just before they went extinct.

The fascinating 70-degree rockface is a rather new discovery, found by Bolivian workers, in 1994. It stretches 1.5 kilometers in length and it’s 150 meters tall. Compared to other dinosaur track sites, on any other continent, Cal Orko is by far the biggest and most important.

Unfortunately, Cal Orko is in constant danger of crumbling and Bolivian authorities spend $30 million every year, to keep it in place. With all their efforts, part of the Dinosaur Wall has crumbled at the beginning of February, and with it about 300 footprints have been lost.

Photos via Fogonazos

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Cano Cristales – The Rainbow River

Known as ‘The River of Five Colors” or “The Rainbow River”, Cano Cristales is one of the most amazing rivers of our world.

For the most part of a year, Cano Cristales river, in Colombia, is just an ordinary as any other flowing waters you might have seen. But for a brief period of time, it becomes the scene of a natural festival of colors. The special algae living on the river’s bed of rocks is behind this incredible natural phenomenon.

The river’s flow of water regulates the amount of sunlight reaching the algae, and during the rainy season, it keeps the sun’s rays from reaching the bottom. During the dry season, the water is too shallow to sustain river life, but between these two seasons, conditions are just right for the colors of Cano Cristales to come to life.

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The Relaxing Cat Cafes of Japan

Cats are famous for their relaxing effect on people, but in a country like Japan, where space is an issue, having a pet is problematic. That’s when cat cafes come into play.

For a modest fee of between $5 and $8 Japanese animal lovers can enjoy their usual coffee surrounded by dozens of playful cats. Spending an hour in the company of cats can work wonders on the human mind, and when you’re as stressed as Japanese business-men, even more so. Many of them can’t fit a household pet into their busy schedules, so they opt for a relaxing one-hour break in the company of purring felines.

It might seem like an oddity to us, but ever since the first cat cafe opened in 2004, in Osaka, this sort of establishment has become mainstream in Japan. While you can pet the cats and pay with them, you must obey a very simple set of rules regarding hygiene. In order to prevent infection OF THE CATS, customers have to wear disposable socks and slippers, as well as wash their hands with antiseptic.

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The Phallic Monuments of Love Valley

The appropriately-named Love Valley is a part of Cappadocia that features some rather excited exciting natural structures.

Before you ask, no this is not where the annual Phallic Festival is celebrated, it’s one of Turkey’s most interesting tourist destinations. Apart from its breathtaking beauty and one of the best trekking places in Asia, Love Valley is famous for hosting a relatively large number of literally rock hard…willies. That’s right, the eroded volcanic ash monuments resemble phalli proudly reaching for the sky.

Like the inspired dude who post this story on Neatorama said: “If God created Love Valley, he most likely did it when he was a school boy.” Brilliant!

via Trifter

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Unique Swiss Ice-Palace Is a Winter Wonderland

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland, the open air Ice-Palace features an impressive collection of castles, towers and grottoes made of ice.

The Ice Palace (Eispaläste) is located in the middle of a forest, near Black Lake, in western Switzerland. Designed by Karl Neuhaus, a talented ice sculptor, the Ice Palace celebrates its 23rd exhibition. The cold climate in the Freibourg area can only sustain this frozen masterpiece for around three months, from Christmas until early March.

The best time to visit the Swiss Ice Palace is after sundown, when all the structures and sculptures are illuminated with colorful lights. It’s a truly memorable sights that attracts thousands of tourists every year.

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The Doll-Hospital of Lisbon

If your favorite doll suffered serious damaged that you can’t fix yourself, jump on a plane to Lisbon and take it to the Doll Hospital. They’ll fix it right up.

Located in Figueira Square, Lisbon, the Doll Hospital has been “treating” dolls since 1830 and it’s not going to go out of business anytime soon. Equipped with an emergency and operating rooms, this bizarre establishment has experienced doll doctors and a wide range of spare parts, in case you’re doll needs something replaced.

If people ever stop having their dolls repaired, the Doll Hospital of Lisbon will donate its entire collection of abandoned dolls and spare parts to a local museum. I’m sure they’d fit better on The Island of the Dolls, but…

Photos by REUTERS

via Xinhua

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The Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto of the Redemption is an excellent example of what man can achieve with faith and hard work.

Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant ordained as a priest in 1897. At some point he fell critically  ill with pneumonia and vowed he would dedicate his life to building a shrine to The Virgin Mary, if she would save his life. Father Dobberstein survived and soon after his recovery began gathering piles of rocks for his mission. His search for materials lasted 14 years.

Construction of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,  began in 1912. Foundations were poured, stone slabs were set into place, all in the name of The Holy Virgin. Father Dobberson was actively involved in the building process and many times his hands would crack and bleed from all the cement. He would say “there isn’t any redemption without a little blood”.

Though West Bend isn’t the best place to look for crystals and semi-precious stones, Paul Dobberstein traveled to Hot Springs, Black Hills and Carlsbad Caverns and managed to gather truckloads of materials for his Grotto of the Redemption. The redeeming priest worked on expanding and improving the grotto until he died, in 1954, at the end of a long day’s work.

At the time of Dobberstein’s death, the Grotto of the Redemption was the size of a city block and is still expanding today. The crystals, semi-precious stones and petrified wood used to decorate the structures of the grotto are said to be worth over $4,300,000.

Considered “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place”, the Grotto of the Redemption welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. It reminds me a lot of the Ideal Palace.

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Cakeland – A Sweet Illusion

Do you know those dreams that start out all nice and dandy only they turn into horrible nightmares in the end? That’s sort of what Cakeland is like.

Cakeland is an art installation in Oakland, created to look like a delicious collection of cakes. Featuring cakes placed on tables, stacked on top of other cakes, mounted on walls and even hanging from the ceiling, Cakeland literally looks like heaven for sweet addicts. But alas Scott Hove’s cakes are anything but edible. Unlike the regular treats that last only until celebrations end, Cakeland cakes are made from acrylic, wood and cardboard and will last “as long as the artist or society have the wherewithal to preserve them”.

But that’s not the worst part of our nightmare. In order to protect their delicious beauty, the artists equipped some of the cakes with sharp teeth that act as defense. Hove says “without this aggressive aspect– call it the anti-cake– the beauty is vulnerable, transitory, and not to be respected”.

Cakeland is a very interesting place, but unlike Scott Hove who sees it as a pilgrimage site away from the problems of reality, some might consider it torture. After all finding yourself surrounded by seemingly delicious cakes, without the possibility of even tasting them can be a grueling experience.

Cakeland

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Japan’s Famous Wine Spa Reopened

Located in Kowakien Yunessun, the biggest, most popular spa center in Japan, the outdoor has opened its gates once again.

Hundreds of gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau, the most popular wine in Japan, are used during the 12 day period the wine spa welcomes its guests. Four the last four years, Japanese wine lovers have had the opportunity to drink and bathe in the liquor they love so much, at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.

The red pool is constantly fed wine through the wine-bottle-shaped spring, while a sommelier stands by to fill up the glasses of those craving some more Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apart from a wine pool, the spa center also features a sake spa, green tea spa and coffee spa, where clients can bathe in the drinks mentioned.

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Mexico’s Island of the Dolls Is Beyond Creepy

Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

via Bizarre

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China’s Kingdom Of The Dwarves

Over 100 height-challenged Chinese people perform in a show called Kingdom Of The Dwarves, close to Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Casting for the Kingdom Of The Dwarves show took place last summer, with only two conditions stipulated: the performers had to be between 18 and 40 years old and be shorter than 130 cm (4’3″). No other special skills were required. Now they take the stage of the Kunming World Butterflies Garden twice a day, singing, dancing and performing comedy sketches to entertain the crowds.

I know it looks like exploitation and discrimination, but the short performers see it only as another form of migrant labor and a haven away from people who mock and tease them on a daily basis. With discrimination and unemployment still high in China, the little people saw the Kingdom Of The Dwarves as an opportunity.

Just to clear things up, this is just a profitable theme park, not a community formed by the dwarves themselves as a shelter, and the mushroom houses only serve as decor and changing rooms, not as living quarters.

Photos by REUTERS

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Story of the Cardrona Bra Fence

The Cardrona Bra Fence was one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in New Zealand. Located in Central Otago, it was admired by some, but considered an eyesore by others.

The famous fence was born on Christmas of 1999, when 4 bras were discovered hanging on the fence. Word spread fast and, by the end of February, 60 bras were dancing in the wind, at Cardrona. They were soon removed, but news of the Bra Fence spread fast and by the year 2000, over 200 bras covered the fence. Once again, the bras just disappeared, but by 2006 over 800 women underwear garments were hanging in the wind.

While some of the locals were grateful for this offbeat tourist attraction, some landowners found the Cardrona Bra Fence vulgar and made attempts to have it removed. Because it was located on public road reserve, the local council declared the fence a traffic hazard and ordered the bras removed.

Though it no longer exists, the story of the Cardrona Bra Fence won’t soon be forgotten and thankfully, there are some photos around the interwebs:

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Watts Tower – One Man’s Dream Turned Reality

“I had in mind to do something big and I did it.” That’s what Simon Rodia said about his work.

Designed by Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia, Watts Towers are a famous example of vernacular architecture, located in the Watts district, Los Angeles. The talented construction worker spent all his spare time, between 1921 and 1954, working on this collection of 17 interconnected steel towers. The amateur structures are made from steel rods wrapped in wire and coated in mortar.

Rodia decorated his architectural masterpieces with found stuff, like bottle caps, seashells, broken glass and pottery. Children from all over the neighborhood would search for pieces of glass and bring it to Simon Rodia, in hope their findings would be included in his project.

Unfortunately, the talented Italian didn’t get along with his neighbors and he’d often find his Watts Towers vandalized. One day, sick of all the abuse, he left and never came back. In the following years his work became more and more popular, but the towers were about to be teared down by the city, when community activists formed the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and managed to save them.

Nowadays, Watts Towers is a Historical Park.

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