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.”
Curled up, cuddled up, under a coat — that’s the right way to sleep at the Gongti Beilu Starbucks. These aren’t homeless winos, but students, fashionistas, men in suits. And these aren’t all naps.
One woman, below, slept for four hours. People sat down, got janked up, left, and she kept dozing away. “Is she dead,” one man asked. When I left, she was still snoring.
The next day, this fellow was beside me…
And yesterday, this businessman was sprawled out generously…
Over at the Chaoyang Wai Starbucks, this cute couple shared a table for a mid-afternoon kip. But there was something about them that moved me. A sense of exhaustion, sadness, and loss. But still, they were together.
What do you think? Should Starbucks allow this globally? Implement nap lounges? It really would be quite nice…
Finally, according to #TweetsofOld, “The following is the shortest sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet. ‘Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.'” Perfect information to have before I set off to the States in a few days.
Did I miss anything good in the world of weird Asia news? Got something awesome? Share it below…
In honor of this grand celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, today we decided to sift through the AsiaObscura archives, and return to our wildest, most popular China stories of 2011! And so, in order of pageviews….
6. The Sick Collector and his 2000 Shoes
What happens when you take one creepy old man, one disgruntled housewife, and a collection of bizarre tiny shoes? After marital discord, that is. This profile of Yang Shaorong and his sick fetish brought together pornography, Polyester, and sweet sick obsession into one strange little story.
4. Inspector Black Cat: China’s Gore-Soaked Answer to Tom & Jerry
While our Sanmao story drew big audiences, it was nothing compared to the fans of “Inspector Black Cat”–a 1980s kids cartoon that coupled Tarantino with Hanna-Barbera. Blood splats across the screen, cute baby pandas are gruesomely eaten, and swords slice through innocent diners… on daytime tv.
3. Wonderland: Beijing’s Abandoned Disneyland
Crumbling castle walls and turrets, on the road to the Great Wall of China. We spent a day exploring this gorgeously decrepit amusement park, a onetime challenger for Beijing’s best theme park, and found more than just near-death-trap wells.
1. 19 Incredible Taoist Gods
And of course, the Taoist gods ended up the most popular China story on AsiaObscura this year. Like that’s any surprise? We’ve covered plenty of weird Taoist temples in these pages, but this piece on the amazing bad-ass sculptures really caught some attention. If you like those, don’t miss Terrible Moments from a Taoist Temple, in which the gods slice, dice, and saw their congregation in two. It’s unforgettable.
While those were the China stories that garnered the most pageviews this year, my favorite piece on China didn’t make the top five, or even the top ten…. And since it’s my birthday today, as well as China’s, here’s that one, too:
We haven’t set foot in Bangkok in far too long. Months. But fortunately, AsiaObscura eyes are growing more populous, and reader Matt Smith wrote in with this great pair of electoral campaign posters.
What a smile! What a dog! (Pity about that shit kid he had to deal with.)
You can surely find more Obscurata in Matt’s Thai Diary, from Amazon.
Jim S., one of our favorite resources for Chinese and Thai scoops, writes that the poster translates to “When you need honesty”. He continued that, “Chuvit is not a member of any party, and was elected MP as a protest. He attacks everyone. Interesting person. Lots of educated young Thais in Bangkok voted for him.”
May S. writes that the second poster reads “something about politics being a diaper that needs to be changed when it’s full of shit. Most Thais think of him as a funny straight-forward politician and he finally got his seat this time, although his first day at the parliament was not that good.”
Okay, I know he’s been dead for a long time — 17 years — but since he’s still the official (eternal!) president of North Korea. And he’d be 100 99 today! So here are a handful of cutedear great pictures of the “Great Leader” (수령) from our last trip to the DPRK.
I put this up on YouTube a little while back, but it’s definitely worth putting up here: the illegal border crossing at Mae Sot.
I shot this from the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border. To get from Mae Sot to Myawaddy, you cross a bridge, pay a toll, and have your passport confiscated for a few hours. (If you’re me, that is.) Or, if you’re Burmese, you could pay a fellow with a fat innertube a few pennies, and be waded across under the bridge. Literally, in the shadow of the legal crossing.
It’s pretty beneficial, really, if you work illegally in a Thai factory for sub-minimum-wage, or a monk on the run…
I still can’t get over this incredible customs document we had to fill out to enter North Korea the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Already, our nerves were on edge… the ancient plane was filled with smoke, we’d heard references to “American imperialist bastards,” and we were about to land in North Korea. But… no killing devices, exciters, phones, or… published materials?
I found this sign on a roadside outside Old Sukhothai, the ancient former capital of Thailand. But I never found the venue. I gave up after half an hour of cycling the same stretch, over and over and over again.