So this is what I do when the possibility of taking a vacation is practically zilch – I exploit Google for extensive research on exotic spots and dream of being there thereafter.
If your dream holiday is to sip a Mai Tai by the hotel’s pool, followed by a quiet dinner on the beach (not my ideal holiday but I would trade what I’m doing in for that in a heartbeat now), you’re probably not going to be very impressed with these places.
Definitely not your typical holiday spots and some certainly not for the faint-hearted, here are some of the world’s most unusual travel destinations.
The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
The Island of the Dolls, or La Isla de la Munecas in Spanish, is probably the spookiest place you can visit in Mexico. Every tree on the island, located south of Mexico City amidst an extensive network of canals, has old and mutilated dolls hanging off of it.
The spine-chilling island is the handiwork of a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana who, although was married, chose to live his last 50 years alone on the island. Santana claimed to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl who drowned in one the canals around the island. He then began fishing dolls from the surrounding water and hanging them around as a shrine for the little girl ghost. In 2001, Santana was found drowned in the same canal he said the little girl drowned in.
Apart from feeling like you’re constantly being watched, some tourists claim to hear the dolls whispering. People with pediophobia, steer clear.
Located at the foot of Mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan, is a 35-square-kilometre forest called Aokigahara, also known as Sea of Trees. The forest is a vision of unsullied beauty and serenity. Upon wading through thick forestation, you can get an incomparable vantage point to admire Mount Fuji in its full glory.
In the heart of Aokigahara, one is completely shrouded in darkness and silence, making it the perfect respite for anyone. Unfortunately, it apparently makes also the ideal setting for commiting suicide. Every year, approximately 100 people are found dead in the woods, making it the most popular suicide destination in Japan and second in the world, after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The unusually high suicide rate has resulted in the authorities placing signs with messages such as “Please reconsider.” and “Think carefully for your children, your family.” at the entrance of the forest.
Worth visiting a potentially haunted spot for an exceptional view of Mount Fuji? You decide. (I’d say yes. Spooks and a view, why not!)
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Delectable contemporary European Cuisine at 16 feet below sea level for you? At Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, you can. The world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant, you get a 180° view of the spectacular reef and marine life Maldives has to offer.
I’d probably not have seafood that day though. There’s just something cruel about having them watch you eat one of their friends. Well, an ex-friend to be exact.
Karni Mata Temple, India
What will your reaction be if you saw a rat? Now, imagine your reaction again if you were to see 20, 000 rats.
The Karni Mata Temple, or Rat Temple, is dedicated to the Goddess Karni, who lived an ascetic life, committed to the service of the poor and the oppressed of all communites. Goddess Karni was said to also have lived and performed many miracles during her existence. Legend has it that Goddess Karni restored the life of the child of one her devotees, bringing the child back from the hands of the god of death. After which, she announced that all her descendants would no longer fall prey of the god of death, that they will be temporarily turned into rats before being reincarnated as humans again.
The 20, 000 black rats in the temple are hence well protected and revered. There are a few white rats in the temple which are considered especially holy because they are believed to be the manifestations of Goddess Karni and her four sons. Devotees feed the rats in the temple and consume the leftovers among themselves, an act which they believe would bring them blessing.
Gum Wall, Seattle & Bubblegum Alley, California
The Gum Wall, located right by the box office for Market Theater in Seattle, began when patrons, who had to wait in line for a long time, got restless and stuck pieces of gum on the wall. Theater attendants scraped the wall twice but gave up in 1999 when it became a certified tourist attraction.
Another similar attraction is Bubblegum Alley in California, which has every inch of its 20-metre-stretch covered in bubblegum. Like the Gum Wall in Seattle, efforts to clean up the walls were unsuccessful.
Somehow these gum walls make me want to gaze in awe and throw up at the same time. Pretty and interesting? Yes. But yes also to stinky, germy and sticky.