Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stranger Than Science Fiction: 11 Places You Won't Believe Exist

1. Izu Islands, Japan

Off the coast of Japan are a series of volcanic islands where the sulfur in the air became so heavy that evacuations were mandated by the government. Despite the still-lethal levels of sulfur polluting the air, people have actually moved back to the islands. However, they must wear gas masks when going outside; which has prompted a group of scientists to study their daily lives and the effects that the debilitating environment has on their physical conditions.

2. Pripyat, Ukraine

On the 26th of April, 1986, a failed systems test caused a massive rupture in the reactor vessel of the Chernobyl power plant. As the result from plumes of radiation blanketing a huge geographical area with deadly radiation, nearby Pripyat had to be evacuated; forcing 49,400 residents to abandon their homes. Pripyat is, to this day, covered in lethal pockets of radiation. This ghost town has been the backdrop of several pieces of fiction literature and most recently provided part of the setting for the popular first-person-shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

3. Coober Pedy, Australia

Coober Pedy is an Australian mining town where scorching hot temperatures inspired residents to build underground "dugouts" -- parts of the town where people reside when above ground becomes too hot. Some of the main attractions are an underground chapel and a golf course open only at night because of the intense daytime heat. In fact, the only real building above ground is the town's post office--which has been blown up several times by bored miners playing with excess TNT.

4. Centralia, Pennsylvania

During the summer of 1962, a massive coal fire ignited in the mine running underneath the town of Centralia, PA. Sinkholes and deadly eruptions of steam and fire occur at random from underneath the city's streets, even to this day. Despite this, the town was still populated until 1981, when the government ordered a mandatory evacuation. You may think that this looks like the real life Silent Hill, and you would be right; the creator of the series has cited Centralia, PA as one of his inspirations for its setting.

5. Karni Mata's Temple at Deshnoke, India.

This temple in India (known locally as The Temple of The Rats) believes that when someone is reincarnated, they come back as a rat. The people who worship at Deshnoke not only let rats come and go as they please, they even feed and worship with them. Unlike other temples that worship Karni Mata, this one has no statues or major symbols, only an imprint of what is said to be the Goddesses footprint, so all who enter must go bare-footed.

6. The Island of The Dolls, Mexico City, Mexico

Known as "La Isla de la Munecas" by the Spanish, this mysterious island is located in a series of canals south of Mexico City. A hermit named Don Julian Santana moved to the island and lived there alone for 50 years. Don Julian used to claim that he was haunted by the ghost of a little girl who drowned in one of the canals. He hung these mutilated dolls on every single tree on the island to commemorate the memory of the spirit that tormented him. In 2001, Don Julian was found dead by his nephew via drowning, floating in the same canal that the little girl drowned in years earlier. Given its uniqueness, this place should be a more popular tourist attraction in Mexico, but people are so convinced it is haunted that it actually deters most tourists from visiting.

7. Hashima Island, Japan 

Hashima is an island located near Japan that was a coal mining facility from 1887 to 1974. When the coal mine was ordered to be shut down, the island was abandoned and rapidly fell into a state of disrepair. Several buildings have collapsed as the island has not been given any form of maintenance since its closing. Rumours circulate that the reason it has never been revisited is because of superstitions. These stem from people who claim that the ghosts of several ill-fated coal miners who died on-site while the mine was still operating having said to appear to any who come near Hashima Island. This superstition is so strong that government officials refuse to allow interested parties access to the island.

8. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuary is a Roman Catholic chapel located in the Czech Republic. After one thousand years acting as a burial site, the church began to run out of room to store the bones of the deceased. In 1870, a man was hired to find a solution to the bone overflow problem. His solution? Reinforce the inside walls, pillars, coat of arms, benches, and lamps, with decorations made from human bones. The Sedlec Ossuary is said to house the bones of nearly 70,000 people, who are now resting peacefully as decorative footstools and chandeliers.

9. Thames Town, China

Thames Town is a fully functioning re-creation of how the Chinese view a typical market town from England, located just outside of Shanghai, China. Thames Town is just the beginning of other-country themed towns, as the Chinese government plans to build re-creations of towns themed after Sweden, USA, Italy, Spain, traditional Chinese, and Germany.

10. Manshiyat Naser, Egypt

Manshiyat Naser (also known as "Garbage City") is located near Cairo, and its entire economic system revolves around collecting and recycling garbage. The city has shops, streets, apartments, and the largest church in all of the Middle East, but it lacks any real infrastructure, and has no running water, no sewage, and no electricity. This place is ripe for the picking if you're looking for a unique locale for a shoot-out scene in a sci-fi movie.

11. The Mummy Museum at Guanajuato, Mexico

The "Mummies of Guanajuato" are naturally mummified bodies that are the result of a cholera outbreak in 1833. Due to the deadliness of the outbreak, bodies were put into the ground immediately after death, with some people being accidentally buried while they are still alive; which sheds light on why several mummies have horrific expressions on their faces. The museum at Guanajuato was once visited by famous sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, who later wrote the short story Next in Line about his "wounding and terrifying experience" at the museum.

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