by Léa Dérédjian
Our planet is full of unusual and weird places and things shaped by nature or sculpted by human hands. These unique places are a real invitation to escape and prove to us how beautiful and diverse nature is.
Suoi Tien theme park – VIETNAM
Suoi Tien theme park is located in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It’s Vietnam’s weirdest amusement park and one of the strangest in Asia.
This place mixes both a classic amusement park and the heritage and culture of Vietnam.
There are roller coasters, a lot of rides, displays, and incredible spectacles. This park is an explosion of colour all over the place, featuring giant sculptures of Buddha heads, colourful dragons, and snakes. The park focuses on Vietnamese history, folklore, and also… Buddhism.
The whole park is quite impressive and constructed on a huge scale… right next to a garbage dump! It’s definitely worth going to check out its gaudy sculptures, especially on a hot day – you can chill in the water park or in the fountains.
Luang Prabang Market – LAOS
The Luang Prabang Morning Market takes place every morning in the ancient royal capital set among the mountains. It’s a beautiful market with interesting and authentic local food.
In the heart of this World Heritage City, many unusual foodstuffs are sold, like serpents, bats, giblets covered with flies, caramelised pork’s head, grilled insects (worms, grasshoppers, bee’s larvae, crickets, butterfly chrysalis, etc), ox-blood in gelatinous cubes, and a lot of sorts of leaves and plants which are used to make traditional dishes.
It’s a market not to be missed, with friendly vendors, wonderful breakfast snacks and mountains of fresh jungle vegetables.
Wat Muang (Ang Thong) – THAILAND
This temple located in Ang Thong about 10km from the city centre, is best known for its huge 95-metre-high golden seated Buddha – currently the tallest Buddha figure in Thailand. The curiosity here is the Buddha’s right hand which visitors can touch from a small raised platform.
In addition to the imposing statue that dominates Wat Muang and much of the surrounding paddy fields, there are other wihans and shrine hall and statues in the garden, including a square with a very graphic diorama of Buddhist Hell. According to tradition, sinners are seen receiving punishments; for example, thieves are cut in half, etc. The scenes look like they were inspired by a horror movie (or Haw Par Villa): two large ghosts, one male and one female, tower over scenes of torture, complete with bulging eyes, enormous tongues, and gigantic feet.
This temple is very popular and appreciated by Thais and for the moment, little visited by foreign tourists.
Chicken Church – INDONESIA
Hidden deep in the jungle, Gereja Ayam is a place of worship in Magelang, very close to the ancient temples of Borobudur, on the island of Java in Indonesia. Although the structure was built to take the shape of a dove, it is perceived as a chicken by the locals, who have become accustomed to calling it the Chicken church.
Due to financial difficulties and local resistance, construction was never completed, and the structure was left abandoned in 2000. Despite this, photos of the place went viral in 2015, bringing it much-needed funds to complete the project. Today, the church is frequented by tourists, and by couples who want to take wedding photographs or to get married there.
Prisoners’ Thriller performances – PHILIPPINES
Filipino prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, a maximum security prison, actually host dance performances every month! Initially the dances were meant to be a form of rehabilitation, but they became so popular that they’ve become a regular attraction.
A video posted on YouTube back in 2007 showed the prisoners dancing to the Michael Jackson song, “Thriller.” It has been viewed more than 10 million times and became one of the most popular clips ever on the video-sharing website. The performances were so popular, the prison actually hosted monthly performances for the public to view.
Other music video performances covering popular songs were also uploaded, including “Ice Ice Baby”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Jump”, and even “Gangnam Style”. While public performances are not guaranteed, they do sometimes perform based on prior bookings.
Rafflesia – MALAYSIA
Called “the corpse lily”, the Rafflesia is a species of parasitic flowering plant, and is the largest individual flower on Earth. One of these flowers can reach a diameter of 1m and weigh up to 11kg. In addition to looking weird, it has a smell very strong and unpleasant odour of decaying flesh, which explains its nickname, “corpse flower”.
Rafflesia is a rare flower that grows in the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It has no stem, leaf or root, and does not have chlorophyll so it cannot photosynthesise. It depends entirely on the plant it feeds on. During its development, it lives inside its host in the form of filaments, and it only during flowering that it is visible. It blooms at night, in rainy weather, for three to seven days.
Komodo dragon – INDONESIA
Measuring up to 3m long without its tail, the Komodo dragon is a weird, fearsome creature. Not only does it have a 60 razor-sharp teeth, its forked yellow tongue can actually “taste” its dinner up to 2 miles away (it can pick up microscopic, airborne taste particles)!
Komodo dragons are carnivores, and can eat very large prey, such as large water buffalo, deer, carrion, pigs and even humans. The Komodo’s saliva contains 50 strains of bacteria, therefore if the prey escapes, it will die within 24 hours of blood poisoning.
Weirder still, female dragons can actually reproduce without needing to mate! If you want to see the Komodo dragon, you can travel in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang.