Few things provide a better glimpse into another culture like stumbling upon on a village wedding or festival when traveling, but what about funerals?
The Torajan people, who live in the South Sulawesi region of Indonesia, are known for their lavish funerals, which can last several days. According to a recent CNN report, tourists are increasingly coming to watch the festivities, and grapple with a variety of ethics surrounding funeral-crashing.
These ceremonies go well beyond the uplifting, jazz-fueled processions one might see on the streets of New Orleans—and they’re much tougher to get to. First, you need to fly from Jakarta or Bali to Makassar, then take an 8-hour bus ride to Rantepao.
Mark Galpin, owner of Alladin's Cave, an antique shop in Christchurch, in Southwest England might say that the "oitering" starts as soon as you enter his establishment. The shopkeeper has made his store the subject of a brouhaha recently after he posted signs that say "Sorry No Tourists" and banned shoppers who don’t live within a 30-mile radius. "We have put up with it for three years, and we believe that maybe one in every 2,500 tourists has spent a pound or two," Galpin told the Daily Mail. "The rest have spent nothing." The sign explains the ban on the grounds that the store's items would be too large to ship. ("So, scram, why doncha!" is all but implied.)
Galpin told reporters that his sales have shot up since the ban—now that there's more room for paying customers to wander around—but some of Christchurch’s civic leaders are not happy about it. "It's just so depressing that we have got one eccentric trader taking this stance," Peter Watson-Lee, the chairman of the Christchurch Chamber of Trade, told reporters. "Tourists bring a lot of money into the town. He is in the wrong town if he doesn’t want to welcome them."
Galpin reportedly said that he might consider allowing tourists again—if they chip in some money to a pot for charitable donations.
Many old cruiseliners may end up stripped for parts, but the Duke of Lancaster is proof that one man's scrap can become another's sprawling, blank canvas.
According to a CNN report by Sheena McKenzie, a graffiti collective recently cut a deal with the owners of an abandoned ship beached on Wales’ Dee Estuary, and invited artists from around Europe to start spray painting the vessel, while also pondering the theme of corruption. Some highlights: Three suit-and-tie-clad monkeys sitting on bags of money, some cartoonish pirates and a demon riding a uniformed pig.
How cute, you might say, when you spot a monkey ambling along the beach in Thailand. (“Wait, where'd my lunch go?”) But lately the primates have become a little too aggressive, so authorities have posted new signs on beaches in the country's Krabi province (which includes Long Beach, Phi Phi Island and the aptly named Monkey Bay) that read "Beware of the Monkey" in both Thai and English. According to a report from the Bangkok Post, roughly 600 beachgoers have been treated at one local hospital in the past year for monkey bites. The furry beachgoers have gotten so used to edible hand-outs from their human enablers that they can turn ugly when spurned. A whopping 75 percent of the victims are foreigners.
On a calm beach, a big wave can knock you off your feet—and even act as a thief, as one resort guest recently learned.
Brittania Fisher and her husband were vacationing earlier this month at Miami’s Turnberry Isle Miami, and on their last day there, Brittania was wading in shallow water and picking up shells on the private beach. Suddenly, a big wave surprised her, and knocked her over. "I clenched my left hand because the water was cold, and I knew it would make my fingers shrink," the Dallas native told us. "But my rings were already gone."
She immediately enlisted other people on the beach to help her look, and hotel staffers are still looking—but so far, with no results.
Turnberry's staffers, it should be noted, have recovered lost rings in the past. In 2002, Heather Mills, former wife of Paul McCartney, "lost" one hers when she was staying with the music legend at the resort. "Apparently they had a big row in our Grand Presidential Suite, and in their fight she threw her engagement ring off the balcony," Rachel Pinzur, the resort's public relations director, told NBC Miami. A determined hotel employee found it in the bushes with the help of a flashlight.
The shoreline may pose greater challenges, but Fisher says that she is hopeful that her two rings—both platinum, and soldered together—are heavy enough to have sunk into the sand, rather than be sucked out to sea. (See picture: above.) She recently posted on the resort's Facebook page asking guests to keep looking, and is offering a $2,000 reward for their return.
“There's a dollar amount on the rings, of course, but I can't replace them," Fisher told us. “The engagement ring was what my husband had when he got down on one knee, and he slipped the band on my hand on our wedding day. They're priceless." She's willing to be patient, too. "You always hear stories about people being reunited with items after a long time, so I'll believe in miracles."
To some travelers, feeding stingrays in their native habitat may seem like a way fun to share some inter-species goodwill, but it turns out that it can leave the wildlife feeling a little off-kilter, to say the least.
According to recent announcement, a study by the Guy Harvey Research Institute, at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, looked at how regular human interaction is affecting the marine wildlife at Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, where travelers can pet, feed and swim with the big fish. Researchers found some distinct changes in the stingrays' behavior. For instance, the fish shifted from foraging for food at night to doing so only during the day—perhaps when human visitors might be handing out snacks—and then sleeping at night.
Nothing helps shake off the stress of work like a beach vacation far from home. But as one Welshman learned, there may be a fine line between easing stress and whooping it up—at least in the eyes of his bosses back at home. Paul Marshallsea was taking stress-related sick leave from his job at a charity in Wales, and was using part of that time to visit Australia's Sunshine Coast. On the beach one day, the 62-year-old spotted a shark in shallow waters near a group of kids. "It could have been very nasty," he told the BBC. "My instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail."
And then some: Marshallsea wrestled the shark into deeper waters, all of which happened to get caught on film and broadcast on Australia's Channel 9, where he was declared a hero. (Watch the video above.)
For starters, we feel for anyone who takes a vacation expressly to unwind, and ends up tangling with a shark. But Marshallsea's good deed did no go unpunished: Back in Wales, his employers happened to see the clip and fired him. "If I hadn't gone in to save the kids on that beach that day, I would still have a job," he told WalesOnline. "You think being … a children's charity, they would have tapped me on the back."
What do you think? Is it out of bounds to take a vacation while on stress-related sick leave?
When you're the smallest city park in the world, it doesn’t take much to suffer an epic natural disaster—perhaps a skateboarder who veers wildly off track, or a even a German Shepherd who couldn't make it to the next hydrant.
But Portland, Oregon’s Mill’s Ends Park—just two feet across in diameter—seems to have endured some sort of foul play: Oregon Public Broadcasting recently reported that the sole tree of the petite park, on a median on Naito Parkway, had been removed. "Someone yanked it out," said Mark Ross, of Portland’s Department of Parks and Recreation, to OPB.
But a church in Tampa Bay, Florida, is having the opposite problem: People are suddenly seeing a mundane apparition in a spiritual place. After a photo of the Church of the Sea recently went viral, people have started referring to the Madeira Beach chapel as the Chicken Church, thanks to the steeple's seemingly bird-like face. Built in 1944, the cross that tops the church lights up at night, acting as a lighthouse of sorts for local fisherman needing a guide back to shore. Church officials told reporters the church was never meant to remind people of a chicken.
He's reportedly been in Austria since the beginning of the year, but a middle-aged tourist has no memory of who he is, or where he belongs. At least, that's what Austrian police have disclosed to the local newspaper, in hopes that someone will recognize this bereft traveler. Or—if this were a soap opera or decent date-night movie—perhaps someone could fall in love with the poor guy and take him back to their hometown where wacky antics could ensue.
Indeed, for anyone who thought amnesia was just a convenient plot device, it seems to be truly perplexing the authorities who are holding a traveler in Austria. According to police, the man was wearing hiking gear when he got off the train on November 19 in the German town of Lindau, on Lake Constance; after visiting the tourist office (a great resource, whether you have amnesia or not) and walked over the border to nearby Bregenz. A police spokesperson say that they have nearly adozen leads, but so far can only assume that the man is German (thanks his "High German" accent). "He has good days and bad days," the police spokesman told a reporter.
We wish the traveler a speedy recovery—and also hope that a Meg Ryan comeback film would emerge from all this.