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We Snuck Into Arthur C. Clarke’s Home, And… Strange Tourism Top Stories 

We Snuck Into Arthur C. Clarke’s Home, And…

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 once? We’re in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and it’s the last day of our trip. It’s our last week in Asia. It’s actually, in a way, the end of AsiaObscura. We move back to America…

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Adventures in Cockfighting Strange Tourism 

Adventures in Cockfighting

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 has a room of dongs, gift shops sell boner-shaped bottle openers, and our classy hotel — full of erectile gongs and circumcised bathroom locks — resembles a Jack Shamama film.

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Rediscovering Beijing: Finding the Elephants Historical Wonders Strange Tourism 

Rediscovering Beijing: Finding the Elephants

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 receive a kind of adoration. A central-Beijing stable with kneeling elephants? How much cooler can you get?! I had to find this place.

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AsiaObscura is Moving to India Strange Tourism 

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 she grabbed me. “Why do you keep saying five weeks?” “Well, it’s five weeks away.” “No! It’s three weeks away.” I’m now a bit of a mess. As we move everything into storage, I’ll be posting bits and…

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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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Our Favorite Kim Jong Il Stories… 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…

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

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Mad Costumes Across Asia Our Weird Projects Strange Tourism 

Mad Costumes Across Asia

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. All your dreams can come true, in Asia. Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an Egyptians, Shenzhen Winter Egyptians, Beijing Guards of Mianshan Daoist Retreat Cultural Revolution-era Mao and Lin Biao, Shenzhen Gangsters of Old Shanghai, Shanghai Stewardess and Captain of…

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A Postcard from Erenhot Somewhat Perverted Strange Tourism 

A Postcard from Erenhot

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 is Erenhot, or Erlian (二连), Erlianhaote (二连浩特), Eriyen, or Ereen… a town on the Chinese/Mongolian border with too many names. Every passerby stares at me, and every child shouts “Hello” as I pass. One stranger steals…

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On Being Chinese-looking in China Strange Tourism 

On Being Chinese-looking in China

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 from this conversation before it ends, and god forbid, that I will have to respond with some sort of clear opinion about said current topic. But for the most part, the way it goes,…

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Hey! It’s a Foreigner! Strange Tourism 

Hey! It’s a Foreigner!

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 — mine always are), gaping mouth, a look of pure shock on his face.

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