Weird travel

Virgin Atlantic- welcome to, um Gander, Canada

Posted on Aug 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Virgin Atlantic- welcome to, um Gander, Canada

gander-airport

A Virgin Atlantic flight between Heathrow and New York had to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on Saturday after an incident on the Airbus A330-300 variously described as a technical fault or low fuel – now given as a suspected fuel leak. Another aircraft came in to pick up the passengers but, in the absence of sufficient local accommodation, passengers slept on the airport floor. The eight hour flight became a 27-hour ordeal.

iTT wonders how many passengers knew, or cared, that they had a chance to drop in on a piece of international travel history. Soon after it opened in 1938 Gander was the largest airport in the world – a vital refuelling stop for flights between Europe and America – and, as Virgin Atlantic would appreciate, had the biggest landing field. Then came the big mistake. In the late 1950s, at a time when stars like Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were regular visitors, Canada decided to create a large modern terminal to cater to them. In 1959 it was opened by Queen Elizabeth II – Prince Phillip was invited to kiss a cod. Almost to the minute, aircraft evolved so trans-Atlantic flights could span the whole distance between New York and London – and Gander became irrelevant. True, the Beatles first touched down in North America at Gander but they may have been among the last to visit until it was packed again in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when air traffic over US airspace was shut down.

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These days, Gander township (pop. 9650) is served by small Air Canada turbo-prop aircraft. Everyone who chances upon this out-of-the-way accidental design museum (the chairs were by Eames, the benches by Robin Bush and the terrazzo floor looks like a painting by Mondrian). And all of it has hardly been used in 50 years.

iTT hopes at least one passenger with an interest in design (or aviation history) couldn’t believe their luck when they got to spend most of a day in Gander?

2003-03-29-03-Gander-International-Airport-Waiting-Area-1

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Bland NSW seeks match with Dull & Boring

Posted on Jun 3, 2013 | Comments Off on Bland NSW seeks match with Dull & Boring

The Australian town of Bland Shire is looking to cash in on its uninteresting name by establishing links with the village of Dull in Scotland and Boring in Oregon.

Bland to get together with Dull and Oregon

The Scottish and American settlements established ties last year, for no other reason than their mutually mundane monikers. Politicians in Oregon have even attempted to establish an official “Boring and Dull Day” – it would fall on August 9, the one-year anniversary of their twinning, and involve a celebration of all things banal.

And now Bland Shire in New South Wales, home to 6,000 people and whose name honours William Bland, founder of the Australian Medical Association, wants to seize its share of the dreary dollar.

“I think over the years we’ve had our share of fun poked at us,” Bland Shire councillor Tony Lord told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding that having a joke about the name could bring benefits.

“Wherever there’s a deemed threat or a deemed negative, there’s always an opportunity. I think that’s where we need to think positively and look ahead at all the opportunities that may occur or that we can generate.”

It remains to be seen how those opportunities might present themselves.

In Oregon, plans for a Boring and Dull Day, proposed by Bill Kennemer, a Republican representative, have fallen under the radar in recent months, and suggestions at the time for how residents might mark the day were scant. However, an annual event in London could provide inspiration. The third Boring Conference took place at York Hall in Bethnal Green last November, and tickets sold out weeks in advance. It featured talks on topics such as electricity pylons, yellow lines, toast, shop fronts and self-service checkouts.

Several other destinations may be following developments with keen interest, such as Monotony Valley in Nevada, Tedious Creek in Maryland and the town of Draby in Poland. Fans of interminable place names might also seek out Mundania Road in Southwark, Yawn Street in Collins, Massachusetts, Routine Row in Anstruther, Fife, and Ho Hum Drive, in the town of Carefree, Arizona.

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Hong Kong Duck Down

Posted on May 16, 2013 | Comments Off on Hong Kong Duck Down

Giant rubber duck deflates in Hong Kong harbour

15 May 2013 Last updated at 14:19 GMT

Before and after picture of a giant rubber duck that has deflated in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman said the duck brought people together.

A 16m (52ft)-high rubber duck, which has attracted crowds of visitors as it travels around the world, has deflated in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.

The giant bird, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, was found lying on its side on Tuesday night and was completely flat by Wednesday, reports say.

Exhibition organisers say it is part of scheduled maintenance work.

The inflatable duck was due to be towed to a shipyard for a check-up.

The giant yellow sculpture has been transported around the globe since 2007, visiting cities including Sydney, Sao Paulo, and Amsterdam.

It arrived in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour on 2 May and was due to stay until 9 June.

Its deflation caused disappointment in the city, where the duck has become a popular tourist attraction.

“We scheduled a body check for these two days. If everything is fine we can inflate it as soon as possible and the public can appreciate it again,” Andrew Yeung, a spokesman for the Harbour City shopping centre that arranged the installation, told the news agency AFP.

“I know people are disappointed but we need to check the overall condition. We don’t want to upset everyone.”

Mr Hofman has previously warned that the PVC duck would need to be deflated if it faced high winds and waves.

The artist hopes the work will bring people together and encourage a connection with public art.

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Narwhal tusk – the tooth is out!

Posted on May 10, 2013 | Comments Off on Narwhal tusk – the tooth is out!

For travellers to the Arctic there’s normally quite a specific wish list. Polar bears – yes; walrus – yes, puffins – maybe. But the most elusive creature in the Arctic is also the most exotic: often referred to as “the unicorn of the sea” the Narwhal, with its beautiful single long spiral tusk is a wonder of nature. But the question is always asked “what is the tusk for?” Until now the answer has been “well, maybe it’s for mating display, and we’ve seen them use it to break through thin ice . . .” The fact that the tusk is a tooth that grows through the upper lip makes the Narwhal even more mysterious.

This has been published by the Harvard University Gazette – it suggests that the Narwhal’s tusk is a unique sensitive, seeking device. Its apparent role is truly amazing.

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2005/12.15/01-narwhal.html

narwhal
The now-better-understood narwhal, or ‘unicorn whale.’ (Photo by Glenn Williams)

 

Marine biology mystery solved

Function of ‘unicorn’ whale’s 8-foot tooth discovered by Harvard School of Dental Medicine researcher

 

By Leah Gourley 
HMS Communications

Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) researcher Martin Nweeia has just answered a marine science question that had eluded the scientific community for hundreds of years: why does the narwhal, or “unicorn,” whale have an 8-foot-long tooth emerging from its head, and what is its function? Nweeia, a clinical instructor in restorative dentistry and biomaterials sciences at HSDM, will be presenting his conclusions at the 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Diego.

 

The narwhal has a tooth, or tusk, that emerges from the left side of the upper jaw and is an evolutionary mystery that defies many of the known principles of mammalian teeth. The tooth’s unique spiral, the degree of its asymmetry to the left side, and its odd distribution among most males and some females are all unique expressions of teeth in mammals. The narwhal is usually 13 to 15 feet in length and weighs between 2,200 and 3,500 pounds. Its natural habitat is the Atlantic portion of the Arctic Ocean, concentrating in the Canadian High Arctic: Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and northern Hudson Bay. It is also found in fewer numbers in the Greenland Sea, extending to Svalbard to Severnaya Zemlya off the coast of Russia.

Canadian Arctic scene
One of Martin Nweeia’s campsites shows the dramatic landscape of the Canadian High Arctic, one of the homes of the narwhal. (Photo by Joseph Meehan)

Nweeia has discovered that the narwhal’s tooth has hydrodynamic sensor capabilities. Ten million tiny nerve connections tunnel their way from the central nerve of the narwhal tusk to its outer surface. Though seemingly rigid and hard, the tusk is like a membrane with an extremely sensitive surface, capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure, and particle gradients. Because these whales can detect particle gradients in water, they are capable of discerning the salinity of the water, which could help them survive in their Arctic ice environment. It also allows the whales to detect water particles characteristic of the fish that constitute their diet. There is no comparison in nature in tooth form, expression, and functional adaptation.

“Why would a tusk break the rules of normal development by expressing millions of sensory pathways that connect its nervous system to the frigid arctic environment?” asks Nweeia. “Such a finding is startling and indeed surprised all of us who discovered it.” Nweeia collaborated on this project with Frederick Eichmiller, director of the Paffenbarger Research Center at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and James Mead, curator of Marine Mammals at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Nweeia studied the whales during four trips to the Canadian High Arctic. In the past, many theories have been presented to explain the tooth’s purpose and function, none of which have been accepted as definitive. One of the most common is that the tooth is used to display aggression between males, who joust with each other for social hierarchy. Another is that the tooth is a secondary sexual characteristic, like a peacock’s feathers or a lion’s mane.

Nweeia’s findings point to a new direction of scientific investigation. Fewer than 250 papers have been published about the narwhal, and many offer conflicting results. Because of its Arctic habitat and protected status in Canada, the whale is difficult to study. Nweeia has brought together leaders from the fields of marine mammal science, dental medicine, engineering, mathematics, evolutionary biology, anatomy, and histology.

Martin Nweeia proudly displays the flag of the Explorers Club, which has, since its inception in 1904, served as a unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide. (Photo by Joseph Meehan)

The sensory connections discovered by Nweeia and his colleagues also are capable of tactile ability. Narwhals are known for their “tusking” behavior, when males rub tusks. Because of the tactile sensory ability of the tusk surface, the whales are likely experiencing a unique sensation.

Results from the team’s research already have practical applications; studies about the physical makeup of the tusk, which is both strong and flexible, provide insight into ways of improving restorative dental materials. (An 8-foot-long tooth can yield one foot in any direction without breaking). Nweeia also leads the Narwhal Tooth Expeditions and Research Investigation, founded in 2000, which combines scientific experts with Inuit elders, who have collected notes for hundreds of years, to discover the purpose and function of the narwhal tusk.

“Now that we know the sensory capabilities of the tusk, we can design new experiments to describe some of the unique and unexplained behaviors of this elusive and extraordinary whale,” said Nweeia.

So now we have it – the secret behind the Narwhal tusk.

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Ukulele flash mob – be warned!

Posted on May 5, 2013 | Comments Off on Ukulele flash mob – be warned!

 

Ukulele flash mob

 

Gangsterism, a Toronto-area ukulele flash mob organized by Adil Dhalla, cheered up commuters in Toronto’s subway with on April 17th, with an aggressively chipper song about how great everything is to cheer morning commuters .

Adil Dhalla, applied for and received an Awesome Foundation grant to make the performance possible. Dhalla was inspired by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to want to create happiness in his city, and impromptu ukulele concerts throughout public transit was the path he chose to achieve that end.

Rehearsals were held to teach volunteers the song “Have An Awesome Day” before deploying the musical emissaries of happiness on station platforms and in subway cars all over the transit system. They did not get punched for the relentless positivity because they were in Canada.

 

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Beer bottle temple Thailand

Posted on Mar 27, 2013 | Comments Off on Beer bottle temple Thailand

upcycled-beer-bottle-temple-5

Beer bottle temple Thailand. Some years ago Heineken Beer company looked at reshaping its beer bottle to be useful as a building block. It never happened, but Buddhist monks from Thailand’s Sisaket province took matters into their own hands and collected over a million bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple.

This incredible temple in the north-east of Thailand is a novel way to recycle any empties. The resident Buddhist monks at the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew complex encourage local authorities to deposit any used bottles at the temple which they then use to build  the temple and new structures.

 

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Bamboo fish traps – Vietnam

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 | Comments Off on Bamboo fish traps – Vietnam

Vietnam, Bamboo fish traps

The things you see on the road. No it is not a scene from Star Wars or a Durian race.

It is Bamboo fish traps going to market in Vietnam.

 

 

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VW snow sculpture gets traffic ticket in Germany

Posted on Mar 19, 2013 | Comments Off on VW snow sculpture gets traffic ticket in Germany

VW snow car

Traffic wardens slipped up in Germany when they left a parking ticket – on a full sized VW snow sculpture of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Pranksters had built the car overnight in a no-parking zone in Aachen, complete with outlines for its headlights, windscreen and even the distinctive VW badge on the bonnet.

“It was incredibly realistic looking. It looked like you could get into it and drive away once you’d swept the snow off,” said one local.

“The wardens eventually realised they’d been had when they tried to scrape the snow off the number plate and found there was no plate, just snow,” they added.

But the prank has received a frosty reception from local police.

A spokesman said: “We can take a joke as well as the next person and it was a very convincing prank.

“But whether it was made of metal or snow it was still obstructing a road that should have been clear.”

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Weird Travel – China

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 | Comments Off on Weird Travel – China

Tianzi Hotel

In the Weird Travel category  the Tianzi Hotel, is located in Hebei province, China in the Son of Heaven Garden, Yanjiao Economic-Technological Development Zone, Langfang. It is a ten-story high representation of, Fu Lu Shou (good fortune, prosperity and longevity), three Chinese epic heroes proudly standing in front of you as you enter through the right foot.

This ten-storey building in the shape of  these three huge Heroes was built in 2000 in the Chinese city of Langfang, Hebei Province, between Beijing and Tianjin.  Apparently it holds the Guinness World Record for the “biggest image building”…whatever that means.

The hotel’s official website @ http://www.tianzigarden.com (which is no longer working)  indicated that it takes only 20 minutes by Beijing Bus from World Trade Centre in Beijing to the Garden.  The rooms are smaller than typical hotel rooms but there are adequate facilities according to local sources. There are 2 unique suites in the hotel – the Peach suite which can be seen in the photo, Fu is holding in his left hand and the 9th floor presidential suite.

Wonder what the Feng shui is on having a rear facing room?

 

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Socialising with Bears – Don’t Try this at home

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 | Comments Off on Socialising with Bears – Don’t Try this at home

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Very eastern part of Russia, Chukotka peninsula, where lands of the USA and the Russian Federation nearly adjoin each other.  Apparently the local community used to feed the hungry bears with tinned Condensed Milk which they had in abundance.  For more photos follow this link

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