Monthly Archives: December 2011

Historical Wonders /

Monitor Lizards on the Road

The bus ahead screeches to a halt, and we swerve into a ditch.

“Iguana,” says our tuktuk driver with a grunt.

I’ve never seen an iguana like this. This was more like a dinosaur or a dragon. It could probably eat a small child. (Komodo Dragons maybe used to eat pigmy elephants.)

“Can you eat it,” I asked.

“No! Very bad. In the jungle, they eat. But not here.”

Looked tasty to me!

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Copyright Carelessness /

Sri Lanka’s Strangely Familiar Fast Food Chains

Old Galle may be protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but that hasn’t stopped fast food chains from sprawling around the town. Oh, don’t worry, they all appear to be Sri Lankan, but they are strangely familiar. Dairy King Cafe, Hot Pack, Indian Hut, Pizza Hot Pack, and so many more…

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Chinglish /

Ear Fungus with Onions

Trust Me, They’re Better That Way

The onions must help mask the ear fungus scent.

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Chinglish /

No Panking!

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Strange Tourism /

Our Favorite Kim Jong Il Stories…

I’m very happy, and a little sad, but I know Kim Jong L’il will do a fine job furthering his father’s legacy of madness.

In the meantime, here’s some of my favorite AO Kim Jong Il pieces:
Did you know Kim Jong Il was already a master equestrian marksman at the age of five?
– At birth, the country hailed him as their new divine leader. Get the full true story of Kim Jong Il’s birth here
Kim Jong Il’s film theory writings are pretty classic.
Kim Jong Il issued a series of 3D stamps celebrating the birth of Prince William (and Charles and Di, of course!)

and then there’s also my North Korea tourism video, which the country has yet to adopt as their official promo… but I like it!

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Extraordinary Eats /

The Great Chinese Chip Taste-Off

Lobster and Cheese! Melon! Lemon Tea! Chinese potato chips enter a mad world of flavors… but are they any good? I invited over a dozen wary friends, and put these crisps-of-amazement to the AsiaObscura taste test…

Oishi Melon Flavor Corn Curls
Baked, not fried! 14 minerals and vitamins! 0g Trans Fats! The box screams how healthy these chips are. The audience screamed, too. One taster actually vomited. Just a little. “God, that’s disgusting!” “It’s like a dry sponge from Lush Cosmetics!” Existing somewhere between perfume-flavored and watermelon bubble gum, these bizarre penne-shaped curls were unforgettably awful.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 5 Comments
Strange Tourism /

Collapsing Caves, Dead Spelunkers, Corpse Robbery, and Big Mike’s Mystery House

We stopped just outside of Mammoth Cave at Cave City, a deserted row of run-down attractions. It has teepee-shaped motels, kangaroo zoos, and a hilltop theme park called Gunsmoke Mountain where a rusty chairlift rocked in the rain.

“It’s like we’ve driven back to the 50s,” Laurie laughed.

At the end of Cave City, I’d heard, was a museum devoted to Floyd Collins, the most famous spelunker who ever lived.

His career was cut short in 1925 when a sand cave fell in, crushing a leg and trapping him.

And yet Floyd Collins was still alive. Friends could pass him food, and drink. Newspapermen could interview him. But they couldn’t get him out.

Collins became a national headline. Tens of thousands of sightseers crowded around, to witness the drama. Hawkers sold souvenirs. The scene was an absolute circus. (See Billy Wilder’s amazing “Ace in the Hole” for a vision of it.)

After four days, there was a second cave-in. And the hole disappeared.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Other Obscura /

Hartleyhenge, North Carolina’s Strange Stonehenge

We found this strange spiral of stones in the middle of a North Carolina field. “Welcome to Hartleyhenge,” said Scotty.

“I’m not even sure if Hartleyhenge is the real name,” he admitted, “but that’s what we call it around here.” There’s no sign, and no information. A friend of Scotty’s, John Hartley, built it years ago. There were poems by Rumi, Wendell Berry, and Carl Sandberg printed on the rocks. “I go among trees and sit still,” reads one poem, while another urges, “Drink all your passion, and be a disgrace.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Devoted Obsession /

A Tiny Roadside Village, Made From Quartz

In 1968, Henry L. Warren decided to do something special. He started building a tiny village on the side of the road, using white flint rock, concrete, and red brick. He called it “Shangri-La.”

“Wow,” said Scotty, jumping out of the Dart. “Look at all this quartz!” It was amazing. Warren had mined the rock himself using dynamite on his land, and built the town next to his own home on old highway NC86, forty minutes or so from Chapel Hill.

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Cute & Kawaii, Extraordinary Eats / ,

Hello Kitty, Hello Beijing!

Asia’s newest Hello Kitty restaurant, Dreams Hello Kitty, may not be open yet, but it’s getting reeeeeal close. We snuck inside for a few sweet pix before getting ousted…

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Chinglish /

Not Just Pork Balls, But…

Dim sum offering, a few days back.

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Cute & Kawaii /

Sweet Sexy Dolls (and How to Make Your Own)

You’ve seen those sexy collectable figurines around Asia, right? You know the ones… in Singapore malls, Beijing shopping centers, all over Japan? Nervous kids and creepy adults browsing the aisles… subtly saucy…

Creepily paedo…

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Nazis Nazis Nazis /

Iced Dung on a Stick

Available in vanilla…

Chocolate…

and Nazi.

/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments