Category Archives: Strange Tourism

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Sifting Through Arthur C. Clarke’s DVD Collection in Colombo

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Yes, when this story gets to where it's going, I end up in Arthur C. Clarke's armchair. I promise. I started this morning with a strong cup of coffee, an egg hopper doused in fish curry, and the sci-fi classic Childhood's End. And then a thought occurred to me: Didn't Arthur C. Clarke live here ...

by Andy Deemer / 24 Comments
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Little Girl on a Unicycle on a Tightrope, Jaipur 1986

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I've been scanning our forgotten pictures from our 1980s holidays, and found this incredible picture from our visit to Jaipur in 1986: a girl on a unicycle on a tightrope. So does this still happen here in India?

by Andy Deemer / 4 Comments
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Shhhhhhhh

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From a night out at Asiatique's Calypso in Bangkok.

by Andy Deemer / 1 Comment
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Peking Opera Dreams

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I've long dreamed of full Peking Opera costume and makeup. After five hours and far too much money, it finally became a reality. I have to say, this photo shoot was one of the most mind-blowingly cool things we've done in China... Book a session yourself at FMNZ.com Currently on Liangmaqiao's Anjia Lou in Beijing, ...

by Andy Deemer / Leave a comment
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Adventures in Cockfighting

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Most people come to Bali to Eat, Pray, Love. That's not what I came for. I was in Ubud, a town of foreign divorcees. They meditate in temples, crowd organic spas, and queue up teary-eyed outside the toothless medicine man's home. It's a town of romantic desperation. Ironically, it's also gagging with cock. The art museum ...

by Andy Deemer / Leave a comment
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Rediscovering Beijing: Finding the Elephants

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On using an 1897 guidebook to explore modern Beijing... My adventures begin with the elephants. A few hundred yards westward of (the Shun-chih-men) is the place for the Imperial elephants, the Hsün-hsiang-so, a large enclosure in which the elephants of the Court are kept... The intelligent animals are taught to salute the Emperor by kneeling down, and ...

by Andy Deemer / 2 Comments
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Rediscovering Beijing with an 1897 Guide

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Did you know that Beijing has a dozen or so elephants that kneel as the emperor passes by? Seriously. At least that's what my book says. It's a Beijing travel guide from 1897, author unknown, that Charlie Custer found on archive.org. The copy originally belonged to Herbert Hoover, China expat and one-time US President. ...

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The Pyongyang Metro

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North Koreans are proud of their metro. And so they should be. It's one of the deepest, it's breathtakingly gorgeous, and we were only allowed to ride one stop. (Although I've heard tourists can now ride the entire length.) Here are some pages from a great 2004 picture-book I bought in the ...

by Andy Deemer / 4 Comments
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A Vomit Bag from North Korea

I loved the streamlined 1950s design, like a classic car. This was the look of everything on the Air Koryo flight. This trip was about two weeks after Michelle and I started dating. (I guess you know some gal is okay, if she'll agree to go to North Korea on your first date.)

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AsiaObscura is Moving to India

In a bit of a fit of madness, Michelle and I have decided to move to India. Instead of doing things in a long, planned out way, we've decided to jump boat asap. We decided on June 8th. For the last few days, I've been calmly insisting we have five weeks. Yesterday ...

by Andy Deemer / Leave a comment
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Don’t Forget Your Cute Tiger Pictures

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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 ...

by Andy Deemer / 3 Comments
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Small Children Feeding Live Animals to Tigers in a Chinese Zoo

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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 ...

by Andy Deemer / 2 Comments
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Porn, Rats, and Antique Projectors at Sri Lanka’s Classic Cinemas

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We heard there were rats in The Liberty. That it smelled like urine. That the sound was awful. But it's the most famous cinema in Sri Lanka's capital, a 1955 Art Moderne beauty, and how could we turn that down? So we wore socks. Rats don't like socks. It's been modified, ...

by Andy Deemer / 9 Comments
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Our Favorite Kim Jong Il Stories…

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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, ...

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

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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 ...

by Andy Deemer / 3 Comments
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Mad Costumes Across Asia

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As regular readers know, we at AsiaObscura love costumes. We've captured some incredible cosplay adventures here, here, here, here and even here. But it goes deeper. Almost every tourist hotspot across north-east Asia has a rack of costumes, a dramatic backdrop or two, and a whole boatload of awesomeness to dive into. Be ...

by Andy Deemer / Leave a comment
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Plan Your Next Holiday in the Glorious DPRK

North Korea isn't all doom, gloom, and Kim Jong-il. Sure, there's vile propaganda, rumors of grim brainwashing, concentration camps and endless misery. But there's more!

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A Postcard from Erenhot

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Two small dogs are attacking a homeless man, while I'm nursing my lingering fever with sidewalk kebabs and a bottle of Yanjing beer. One of them bites at his ankle, and he hobbles away, cursing while diners beside me laugh, and the wind picks up again. I shield my face from the sand. This ...

by Andy Deemer / 3 Comments
Strange Tourism

On Being Chinese-looking in China

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Waldo in China sketch from Deep Thinkings I'm having a conversation (albeit one-sided) with the neighbor about a leak in our ceiling, with the cab driver about the reasons for the traffic, to the butcher about the right cut of meat. In every case, I nod my head, "uh-huh, uh-huh," hoping that I will glean something ...

by The WooLand Hotel / 2 Comments
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Hey! It’s a Foreigner!

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Yesterday I wrote about Mr Li, the English teacher stuttering he was so excited to meet a foreigner. But this is China. Passerby, seeing me, will loudly announce, “foreigner!" Strangers stare and point, kids sometimes cry out in horror. Once, on seeing me, a migrant worker dropped everything he was carrying. Wide eyes (his, I mean ...

by Andy Deemer / 6 Comments