Thursday, October 29, 2015

Unusual Cemeteries

Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a letter to a friend: “in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death [and taxes].” When the inevitable happens, funeral rites, rituals, and ceremonies must be undertaken. Funeral customs are as old as civilization itself, and they vary from region to region.

In many cultures and religions, cemeteries (from the Greek koimeterion or Latin coemeterium, meaning sleeping place) are used for death ceremonies, burial, mourning, and memorial. Unusual or historical cemeteries have also become popular tourist attractions- cemetery tourism, the ‘dark’ side of tourism, is a growing phenomenon around the world.

Here are some unusual and most visited cemeteries:

10. World’s First Public Pet Cemetery

Cimetiere Des Chiens

Cimetiere des Chiens, a cemetery for dogs and other domestic animals, is said to be the world’s oldest public pet cemetery. It is located in Asnières-sur-Seine, a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. Opened in 1899, Cimetiere des Chiens was a response to a French law stating that pet owners are not allowed to dump the dead bodies of their animals in the garbage or the Seine River. The most famous gravestone belongs to Rin Tin Tin, the legendary American dog that starred in various Hollywood movies.

9. Highway to Hell?

Stull Cemetery

Located in Kansas, this cemetery has gained the reputation as one of the world’s most haunted cemeteries. Some people even consider it to be one of the seven gateways to Hell. There are so many legends, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings surrounding it that even Pope John Paul II allegedly ordered his private jet not to fly over Stull while he was on the way to a public appearance in Colorado in 1995. The Pope considered Stull “unholy ground”.

But just how terrifying is this place? There aren’t many places as controversial as Stull Cemetery. My favorite tale is that the devil’s only half-human son is buried there with his mother. Perhaps that’s why the devil himself has been visiting the Stull Cemetery at least once (some legends report twice) a year since 1850. However, Tracy Morris, author of the Tranquility series of paranormal humor mysteries, asks a legitimate question: “Presumably, Mrs. Lucifer and little Luci Jr. would go to hell upon death, where the Prince of Darkness reigns supreme. So if they’re in hell with him, why visit their graves at all? Maybe he just wants a vacation.”

8. Take a Gander at the Winchester Geese

Cross Bones Graveyard

Cross Bones Graveyard, traditionally called the Single Women’s Graveyard, dates back to medieval times. It was the final resting place for prostitutes (locally known as the Winchester Geese) working in London’s legalized brothels. Multicolor ribbons, charms, flowers, feathers, poems, pictures, and silk stockings decorate the iron fence of the graveyard.

Tudor historian John Stow wrote in his 1603 Survey Of London: “These single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman’s churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.”

7. Natural Mummies from Mother Nature

Le Mummie di Urbania

La Chiesa dei Morti, The Church of the Dead, is located in Urbania in Italy. Inside lies the Cemetery of the Mummies, which was built in 1833. This cemetery is famous for its strange phenomenon of natural mummification. According to specialists, the process is caused by a particular mold that has absorbed moisture from the corpses leading to the complete desiccation of the bodies.

6. The Mafia Cemetery

Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery

In the 1990s, Yekaterinburg was known as ‘The crime capital of Russia.’ Many of the leaders of the Russian Mafia lived there and Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery was the final resting place for many of them. Very expensive tombs, black marble, precious stones, laser-engraved images and life-size granite gravestones are common here. The nicknames of the deceased mobsters are engraved along with some of the things they were known for: He was an expert in using knifes.

5. The World’s First Underwater Cemetery

Neptune Memorial Reef

The Neptune Memorial Reef (also known as the Atlantis Memorial Reef or the Atlantis Reef) is the world’s first underwater mausoleum for cremated remains and the world’s largest man-made reef. Opened in 2007, off the coast of Miami Beach, the Neptune Memorial Reef is the perfect final resting place for those who loved the sea.

4. The Merry Cemetery


Cemeteries are often sad places, but they can also be amusing and entertaining. Spâna, in Northern Romania, is worldwide famous for its Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. What is so unusual about this cemetery? Well, to begin with, the atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by hand in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow. The tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these persons passed away:

Under this heavy cross

Lies my poor mother in law.

If she had lived three more days,

I would be lying here and she would be reading.

Burn in hell, you damn taxi

That came from Sibiu!

As large as Romania is,

You couldn’t find another place to stop,

But in front of my house to kill me?

Spâna is a unique cemetery and a major touristic attraction. The man behind this concept is Romanian craftsman Ioan Stan Patras, who started sculpting the crosses in 1935. The ancient culture of the Dacians, the Romanian’s ancestors, viewed death as liberation and the soul as immortal. Spâna preserves this positive attitude towards death and welcomes it with a smile.

3. How Do I Bury Thee, Let Me Count the Ways…

The Bridge to Paradise – Xcaret’s one-of-a-kind cemetery

The Bridge to Paradise, in the Xcaret Nature and Cultural Park, is quite an intriguing Mexican cemetery. Its structure is based on the Gregorian calendar: the cemetery simulates a hill with seven levels representing the days of the week and 365 colorful tombs on the outside depicting the days of the year. The main entrance is a stairway with 52 steps that represent the weeks of the year.

Each grave is different from the others in design and building materials. One might look like a replica of a famous cathedral, while the next one looks like a sofa or a bed with headboard and pillows.

2. Mysterious Hanging Coffins of China

Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province

Hanging coffins is an ancient funeral custom found only in Asia: there are hanging coffins in China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some coffins are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, while some lay on rock projections. Other coffins are simply placed in caves.

The hanging coffins of the Bo people in Gongxian, Sichuan Province, the Guyue people of Dragon Tiger Mountain and the Guyue people of Wuyi Mountain are the most famous. The Wuyi Mountain coffins are the oldest; some are more than 3,750 years old.

As bizarre as it may seem, it makes sense. Why bury a coffin three meters under the ground, if you want to go to heaven?

1. Ancient Egyptian Burial Grounds

The Cemeteries of Giza and the Valley of the Kings

The Giza Plateau, the site of the mysterious Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and thousands of tombs, has attracted more tourists, archeologists, historians, scientists and mathematicians than any other. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and biggest. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it houses the body of Pharaoh Khufu and was built with more than 2 million stones over a period of 20 years. The complex and elaborate funeral customs of ancient Egyptians were believed to ensure immortality in the afterlife.

The Valley of the Kings, a World Heritage Site, is known to contain more than 60 tombs and 120 chambers. It was the main burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom. The fascinating tombs of Egyptian pharaohs are still being discovered to this day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Bowerbirds are most known for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.
During breeding season, males build a special platform, called a bower, on the forest floor to lure females, and they decorate it with rare objects such as feathers and shiny bits of glass, colours depending on the colour the Bower bird chooses and when building its nest it cant have any other colour except that one colour, this colour is mostly blue but can be yellow, if a Bowerbird thinks it can seduce a female with pink rather than blue they can choose and will decorate the Bower the way it wants.For many males, the effort will be mostly futile. A younger male, for instance, may be able to seduce only a single one of his dozens of visitors — or none at all. Indeed, many males get not even a single glance: in a recent study, 75 percent of female birds visited only one bower before mating. In contrast, older males often have potential mates constantly stopping by for a peek. These more experienced suitors may mate with dozens of different females in a single breeding season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

10. Great Basin Desert

Type of desert : Cold Winter
Area (km²) : 492,000
Area(sq mi) : 190,000
Location : United States

The Great Basin Desert is an area of nearctic high deserts across parts of Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho and Utah that extends into the Colorado River watershed (Clark & Lincoln counties on the southwest), but which is mostly a portion of the central Nevada desert basins of the much larger Great Basin. The predominant flora are mostly of the Atriplex genus (lowest elevations) and sagebrush (higher) (shadscale is also common). Parts of the area have a cold desert climate, particularly where the ranges provide rain shadow for the northern basins/valleys.

09. Syrian Desert

Type of desert : Subtropical
Area (km²) : 520,000
Area(sq mi) : 200,000
Location : Syria, Jordan and Iraq

The Syrian Desert (Arabic: بادية الشام, bādiyat ash-shām‎), also known as the Syro-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 200,000 square miles.

08. Great Victoria Desert

Type of desert : Subtropical
Area (km²) : 647,000
Area(sq mi) : 250,000
Location : Australia

The Great Victoria is the biggest desert in Australia and consists of many small sandhills, grassland plains, areas with a closely packed surface of pebbles (called desert pavement or gibber plains) and salt lakes. It is over 700 kilometres (430 mi) wide (from west to east) and covers an area of 424,400 square kilometres (163,900 sq mi) from the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia to the Gawler Ranges in South Australia.

07. Patagonian Desert

Type of desert : Cold Winter
Area (km²) : 670,000
Area(sq mi) : 260,000
Location : Argentina and Chile

The Patagonian Desert is the largest continental landmass of the 40° parallel and is a large cold winter desert, where the temperature rarely exceeds 12°C and averages just 3°C. The region experiences about seven months of winter and five months of summer. Frost is not uncommon in the desert but, due to the very dry condition year round, snow is

06. Kalahari Desert

Type of desert : Subtropical
Area (km²) : 900,000
Area(sq mi) : 360,000
Location : Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa

The Kalahari supports some animals and plants because most of it is not a true desert. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. It usually receives 3–7.5 inches (76–190 mm) of rain per year. The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending farther into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife.

05. Gobi Desert

Type of desert : Cold Winter
Area (km²) : 1,300,000
Area(sq mi) : 500,000
Location : Mongolia and China

The Gobi (Mongolian: Говь, Govi, “semidesert”; Chinese: 戈壁; pinyin: Gēbì) is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southeast. The Gobi is most notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road

04. Arabian Desert

Type of desert : Subtropical
Area (km²) : 2,330,000
Area(sq mi) : 900,000
Location : Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen

The Arabian Desert is a vast desert wilderness stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. At its centre is the Rub’al-Khali, one of the largest continuous bodies of sand in the world. Gazelles, oryx, sand cats, and spiny-tailed lizards are just some of the desert-adapted species that survive in this extreme environment, which features everything from red dunes to deadly quicksand. The climate is extremely dry, and temperatures oscillate between extreme heat and seasonal night time freezes. It is part of the Deserts and xeric shrublands biome and the Palearctic ecozone.

03. Arctic

Type of desert : Polar
Area (km²) : 2,600,000+
Area(sq mi) : -
Location : Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia

The area can be defined as north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33′N), the approximate limit of the midnight sun and the polar night. Alternatively, it can be defined as the region where the average temperature for the warmest month (July) is below 10 °C (50 °F); the northernmost tree line roughly follows the isotherm at the boundary of this region.

02. Sahara

Type of desert : Subtropical
Area (km²) : 9 100,000+
Area(sq mi) : 3,320,000+
Location : Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara

The desert landforms of the Sahara are shaped by wind or by occasional rains and include sand dunes and dune fields or sand seas (erg), stone plateaus (hamada), gravel plains (reg), dry valleys, and salt flats (shatt or chott). Unusual landforms include the Richat Structure in Mauritania. Several deeply dissected mountains and mountain ranges, many volcanic, rise from the desert, including the Aïr Mountains, Ahaggar Mountains, Saharan Atlas, Tibesti Mountains, Adrar des Iforas, and the Red Sea hills. The highest peak in the Sahara is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano in the Tibesti range of northern Chad.

01. Antarctic Desert

Type of desert : Polar
Area (km²) : 13,829,430
Area(sq mi) : 5,339,573
Location : Antarctica

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms, and tundra vegetation

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Snail Flies

If you thought the bee lice were weird, Wandolleckia is another genus of flightless fly, though in this case it’s only the female that lacks wings. They spend their entire lives swimming in – and eating – the slimy coating of the giant land snail, Achatina achatina, while the winged males fly from snail to snail mating with the lovely mucus-dwelling ladies.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Batman Room

Looking for unique accommodations in Taiwan? Look no further than Eden, a 46-room motel in Kaohsiung City. Batman decor of one of the guest rooms—there's even a life-size Batmobile jutting out from one of the rough, cement-like walls.

This place also can be rents by the hour, which means there's a low commitment factor if you're not, uh, satisfied. Another interesting thing about this hotel is, that around the holidays, the motel gives away "lubrication, sexy lingerie and other perks."