Cool Things In Random Places

A little refreshing randomness from around the globe

Browsing Posts in Africa

Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls This destination has been peeking curiosity forever, but is still captivating. I never would have believed that you could swim at the edge of one of the worlds highest waterfalls and live to tell someone about it. These are among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. At the top of the falls lies a pool of water that escapes the rivers main currents to form a natural basin and a very cool place to take a swim.  continue reading…

Toilet House

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There is a house in South Korea shaped like a toilet.



It is the work of no mere waste-obsessed eccentric. This house was built by none other than Sim Jae-duck, the chairman of the organizing committee of the Inaugural General Assembly of the World Toilet Association. Jae-Duck’s organization exists to draw attention to one thing: the criminal lack of sanitary toilets the world over.

For almost half of the world’s population, toilets don’t exist. Without the miracle of indoor plumbing, diseases like cholera can run rampant. In Africa, a movement to ban plastic bags has a sanitary basis: no latrines in sight, residents of Nairobi’s slums would defecate in the bags and throw them out the door.

Back in South Korea, this house has a name: Haewoojae, or “a place of sanctuary where one can solve one’s worries.” The house contains two bedrooms, a few guestrooms, and four deluxe toilets outfitted with elegant fitting and top-of-the-line water conservation. Its center houses a toilet showroom.

Skeleton-Coast

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Local bushmen call it, ‘The Land God Made in Anger.’

You could land on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast – but you couldn’t leave it. Sailors would be pushed ashore in heavy surf – sometimes in dense ocean fog, to boot – and beach themselves. The next morning, they would realize that they were surrounded, by nothing but a hundred miles of the world’s harshest desert.

One WWII cargo ship, the MV Dunedin Star, crash-landed in 1942 – as did every attempt at rescue. One rescue tug smashed on the rocks, drowning its crew. A bomber, dropping supplies to the survivors, crashed into the ocean. But those pilots actually made it ashore, even managing to join up with the survivors of the Star. The entire ragged convoy reached Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek, one month later.

These days, the Skeleton Coast is a national park. Over a thousand ships are still rusting in the dunes.

Mention Coolthingsinrandomplaces.com when you book a trip and mayby they’ll give u a good deal at Skeleton Coast Safaris.

Jazz Funeral

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In New Orleans, they send you off in style.


The ‘jazz funeral’ starts off sombre. On its way to the cemetery, the brass band plays soulful, sad funeral hymns called ‘dirges’: ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ is a popular choice, but it can be anything that reminds mourners of the ups and downs of life. This sombre tone lasts until the procession reaches its final destination, at which point they ‘cut the body loose’ – send the hearse off into the cemetery.

It is at this point that the mourners, themselves, cut loose: the band suddenly breaks into a rendition of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ or ‘Didn’t He Ramble,’ or maybe ‘Lil Liza Jane.’ Relatives and mourners – the ’second line’ – dance with wild abandon. They would often be bedecked with umbrellas, which they would twirl with joy and smiles. Random bystanders are invited to join the celebration: it is considered good form to dance a stranger into the afterlife.

This funeral harkens back to old African traditions – a belief that life wasn’t over at ‘death.’ The Dahomean and Yoruba of West Africa thought that death, in this world, meant that a spirit could now run free into a new one. Those still living would mourn, yes – but then they could revel in the knowledge that their old friend would be dancing his heart out, on the other side.

Miracle Berry

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The miracle berry will unnerve you.



It will make lemons taste like lemonade, and goat cheese take like the sweetest candy. In the underground eating circuit, people throw ‘miracle fruit’ parties where they lay out a whole smorgasboard of bitter and unappetizing snacks. But after they take a swig of Synsepalum dulcificum, they go to town like its the most delicious food they’ve ever tasted.

This berry – and its rogue glycoprotein named, seriously, miraculin – temporarily robs you of your ability to taste sour and bitter flavors. It became a fixture in West Africa, where locals would use it to down otherwise unpalatable meals. But in a world of sweetness-hating dieting fads, a global following wasn’t long in coming.

It’s become a bit of a hit in Japan
. And yet, the miracle berry is still not readily available in the United States – classified as a food additive by the FDA in 1974, it has not yet been approved for wide distribution. Most first-timers will be forced to track down an on-line distributor – or, alternatively, befriending a friendly circle of ‘foodies’ who like to throw sweet, sweet parties.
If your really curious about the power of Miracle Berry Fruit Tablets you can try it for your self.

The Sahara is not well-known for its foliage.

But one tree did exist: the Tree of Ténéré. It was the last surviving member of the forest that once inhabited the region, and served as a landmark for travelers – the only landmark, really, in this vast swath of northeast Niger.

The tree was obviously getting water from somewhere, and so locals dug a well. Travelers began to come and go, and in the bustle the tree did manage to lose a limb: a truck backed into it sometime in the 1930s or 40s, knocking off one of its two main branches, and mangling its distinctive ‘Y’-shape.

But that was an accident. No one would think of intentionally harming the tree, the only one within hundreds of miles. And even another accident was nearly unthinkable – lightning couldn’t possibly strike twice.

In 1973, a drunk driver knocked over the tree once and for all. He lost control of his truck, and veering out of control in the sandy, barren desert, ran into the one and only thing there.

The tree has since been replaced with a metal pole.

cool shark derby nova scotia

This shark from a shark derby in Nova Scotia has nothing to do with this post, but its a damn cool thing in a random place as sharks aren’t supposed to look like this in Nova Scotia (at least I hope not while I’m surfing!) One of the best responses to this site as been “it is like a bag of potato chips, once you start reading…”

Do you have some cool or weird thing in mind that could grace the pages of CTIRP?

Send it in with a link to your site, if I post it i’ll give u a text link on that post!

Tips: Keep it short, sweet, and use a gripping title. Great photos are also a must!

So be creative and share those international oddities.

Moko Jumbies

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Moko Jumbies first protected believers from evildoers. Originally a West African tradition, men and women on gigantic stilts would dress in long gowns and masquerade as gods. Gods can look down on humanity from above, and foresee danger better than mere mortals. The stilt-walkers would collect donations, from revelers and onlookers on second-story balconies.

Moko Jumbies

They now dance in the streets of Trinidad and Tobago for every Carnival. ‘Moko’ is the name of the an old African god, ‘the diviner.’ ‘Jumbies’ – ‘ghosts’ – was added by the emancipated slaves. After decades of decline, a man by the name of ‘Dragon’ Glen de Souza actually revived the Moko Jumbie tradition in the early 1990s, in an effort to teach children how to dance.

There is now one premier school for Moko Jumbies in all the world
: the Keylemanjahro School of Art & Culture. It is open six days a week, has about one hundred and fifty students, and takes its name from Key (to open doors), le (the first two letters of ‘leader’), man (as in ‘mankind’), jah (the Rastafarian word for God), and ro, for the roar of the crowd as the Moko Jumbies come down the street.

This school keeps children off the streets. They often practice long after sunset, enjoying the cool night air in the midst of their exertion: each stilt can weigh up to twenty-five pounds. The youngest student was Dragon’s own son: he was two.

Funerals are an opportunity to go out with some style. When Josephine Baker died in France, Paris came to a standstill. Jim Henson banned people from wearing black, and had a chorus of Muppets sing the send-off. Hunter S. Thompson had his ashes shot into space, because let’s be honest: he really, really loved guns.

In Ghana, they might bury you in a giant shoe.

In a suburb outside of Accra
, the fantasy coffin industry is booming. Many of these hand-crafted creations reflect the trades of those who have passed: shoes for the cobblers, hammers for the carpenters – perhaps a Coca-Cola bottle for the street salesman.

Hens are particularly popular for young mothers
, to symbolize maternal love. Occasionally an unrepentant drinker will partake of one last gigantic bottle of Heineken. A gynaecologist once ordered a six-foot uterus. The idea is to leave with dignity, and pride in a life well lived.

If in doubt, a gigantic Bible remains a popular option. And Cadillacs.

This is a fairly new idea. Sometime in the first half of the twentieth century, a village chief commissioned a famous carver for a gigantic cocoa bean, then a major crop in Ghana. The chief soon died – but why let all that hard work go to waste?

And so a tradition was born.

In 2005, an amateur photo from Lagos, Nigeria took the world by storm.

The Hyena Men of Abuja

It showed men with baboons and hyenas on leashes. In various media reports, these men were identified as drug dealers, debt collectors, street toughs or bodyguards. They are known by locals as Gadawan Kuru, which means ‘hyena handers, guides.’

They are actually a family of minstrels. This group wanders the towns of Nigeria, putting on shows and selling traditional medicines, and passing on their profession from generation to generation. Not long after the first picture hit the web, a South African photographer named Pieter Hugo tracked them down, befriended them, and joined their tour: a group of men, a little girl, four monkeys, three hyenas, and a few rock pythons.

The photographer was fascinated more by the men themselves than their performances. Over eight days – and again two years later, when he returned – he took portraits of the handlers whenever an opportunity presented himself. Once, they all hid in the bushes while one performer secured a cab, and then all piled in at once before the taxi driver could escape.

The first response of many people in the West is to ask about the animals. This concern confuses Nigerians. Here, people do what they must to survive. In the sixth largest exporter of oil in the world, you’re on your own.