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Chinese Freak Shows: An Age-Old New Years Tradition Offbeat Museums Theme Parks 

Chinese Freak Shows: An Age-Old New Years Tradition

Two-headed ladies! Ladies with tails! Big-headed ladies and snake-eating ladies and elephants, too! All this, for only 75 cents! Every year, for Chinese New Year, these tents appear across the country. This one was in rural Shanxi Province. Outside, an old lady counted her renminbi in the cold. She shouted out “Five kuai!” She completely ignored the monkey on the swing.

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Don’t Forget Your Cute Tiger Pictures Strange Tourism Theme Parks 

Don’t Forget Your Cute Tiger Pictures

After the horrors of the tiger park, I neglected to mention the cute photo ops at the end of the tour. I mean, how awesome is this vertical line of tigerocity? After taking the picture, the employee wrenched the doped-out cub from our cuddle. He shoved it in a medium-sized tupperware storage container. He clipped on the lid. And he walked away. The cub struggled for a while, but then went quiet. I wanted to cry. The other photo opportunity was to pose with a fierce photoshopped Siberian tiger. We…

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Small Children Feeding Live Animals to Tigers in a Chinese Zoo Strange Tourism Theme Parks 

Small Children Feeding Live Animals to Tigers in a Chinese Zoo

In northern China there’s a tiger park. Like so many things in China, it’s nothing like you might expect. To start with, there’s a menu at the gate. These aren’t animals to take home and domesticate. They’re fodder. Victims to be released on your tour. “Let’s get a cow,” I said. Michelle just glared at me. “But this is nature in its purest form,” I said. “It’s the circle of life. It’s the maintenance and renewal of the microcosm. Come on. So how about a sheep?” She kept glaring.

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The Creepiest Amusement Park of All Time? Holy Curiosities Theme Parks Top Stories 

The Creepiest Amusement Park of All Time?

Singapore is bland. It’s a high-priced row of shopping malls and fine eateries, with a few hawker markets thrown in. “It’s soooooo boring,” warned my hairdresser Miss P. But then you stumble on something like this. The Tiger Balm Gardens: The most disturbing theme park of all time. There’s sex, violence, bear-maulings and scabies. Statues of slutty immoral crotch-grabbing wenches, and creepy animals dressed as humans. Down a dark musty cave, a terrifying tableaux displays every vengeance that awaits you in the hell you’ll surely meet.

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Incredible Low-Tech Laotian Merry-Go-Round Theme Parks 

Incredible Low-Tech Laotian Merry-Go-Round

When I was living in Kathmadu 20 years ago (yow!) this summer, I found this awesomely makeshift ferris wheel in a nearby theme park.  A teenager would stand in the middle, and walk from one bar to the next, giving passengers a slow, staggered ride. Much more recently in southern Laos, down on the island Don Khon, I stumbled across a close cousin: the makeshift merry-go-round or carousel.  I think there was a generator giving it a little power, but the operator had to push it around for it to keep…

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Outsider Art Kangaroos at the Beijing Zoo Theme Parks 

Outsider Art Kangaroos at the Beijing Zoo

I wasn’t much impressed with the Beijing zoo.  Quite the contrary…  I was absolutely horrified. We left depressed.  (See this story for a hint of the madness.) But on the upside, while we saw no live kangaroos, we did happen on these lovely grazing sculptures, made from pieces of found wood. It felt more like something you’d see made from North Carolina driftwood… My favorite’s the last one, so minimal, and so cute.  

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Beijing’s incredible (and completely fake) Disneyland Copyright Carelessness Theme Parks 

Beijing’s incredible (and completely fake) Disneyland

I was always sad Beijing didn’t have a Disneyland for weekend fun, but it turns out we do. Well, a fake one. Not far from the center of town, at the Bajiao stop on subway Line 1, is the incredible Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park (北京石景山游乐园). Admission was about US$1.50, and what a world of wonders lies inside! I know, I know, it looks a little like Disneyland.

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The Romance Park of the Heart – an abandoned Beijing theme park Modern Ruins Theme Parks 

The Romance Park of the Heart – an abandoned Beijing theme park

Beijing’s filled with hidden secrets. Behind all those highrise tower blocks and overpasses, there is awesomeness to be found. And so it was that we heard rumors of a decrepit half-built theme park, somewhere way out west. The rumors came from a Chinese film student, who’d heard them from a friend, who’d heard them from another friend. No-one knew where on a map they were. “Just go to the Yuquanlu subway stop,” said Bing, “and walk south. That’s where it is! Ask a passerby.” We did just that. And two…

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