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Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai Other Obscura 

Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai

When you’re in Bombay, a great way to get some context is start in the alleyways of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. About a million people live here, crammed into 0.67 square miles. “It’s like mainlining gratitude for how much we have to be thankful for,” said my old pal Chris. I couldn’t agree more. But there’s no time to ponder that — hop in a Premier Padmini cab, and zip the few miles downtown to Mukesh Ambani’s 27-floor, 40-storey, $1bn single-family house Antilia,

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Hartleyhenge, North Carolina’s Strange Stonehenge 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…

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Starbucks: The Newest Chinese Snooze Spot Other Obscura 

Starbucks: The Newest Chinese Snooze Spot

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…

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Canine Defectors, Bollywood Muppets, Stewed Koala, and other sweet links Other Obscura 

Canine Defectors, Bollywood Muppets, Stewed Koala, and other sweet links

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen these, but… In North Korean news, the country’s first dog has officially defected. Guess it’s really bad out there. Starving factory employees are asking their wealthy South Korea bosses, “Can you give us cash instead of these choco pies… please!?!” (Or at least instant noodles.) And NKNews.org, my usual source for DPRK reportage, has some wonderful pictures from a DPRK Hairdresser. From India, the fake trailer for a new Muppets Bollywood Flick was a terrible tease. I felt cheated. (Especially…

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Our Six Best China Stories! Other Obscura 

Our Six Best China Stories!

Happy 61st 62nd birthday, China! (And happy 39th birthday, me!) 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…

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One Politician You Can Count On Other Obscura 

One Politician You Can Count On

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…

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The Illegal Mae Sot-Burma Border Crossing Other Obscura 

The Illegal Mae Sot-Burma Border Crossing

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…

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North Korea frightening customs declarations form Other Obscura 

North Korea frightening customs declarations form

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? 

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