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Bizzare & Odd

Witches and watery graves feature in the world’s top 10 creepy travel destinations

FROM ghostly apparitions of a French girl in a white dress to scuba diving the ruins of the world’s largest ship graveyard, travellers have long been drawn to creepy destinations.

Famous for ghost sightings, past horrors or unexplained mysteries, tourist operators report that these spooky spots are becoming increasingly popular with Australian travellers.

Travel company Adventure World, which specialises in exotic and unique locations, has revealed its list of the World’s Top 10 Creepiest Destinations.

From the famous witches of Salem through to a lost Incan city where virgins were said to be sacrificed to a sun god, Fiona Hunt, Managing Director of Adventure World, says there is something spinechilling for everyone.

1. Ghost Fleet of Chuuck Lagoon, South Pacific

The world’s top 10 creepy travel destinations

Chuuck Lagoon is the world’s largest ship graveyard after the area served as Japan’s main South Pacific base in World War II. Source: Supplied

Chuuck Lagoon is an idyllic sheltered body of water in the South Pacific but beneath the water lurks the world’s largest ship graveyard, the ‘Ghost Fleet of Chuuck Lagoon’.

The lagoon was Japan’s main base in the South Pacific during WWII but two days of sustained American bombing in 1944 sent more than 60 Japanese warships and 200 aircraft to the bottom of the sea.

About 3000 Japanese soldiers lie in this watery grave, and you can still see many ghostly remnants including a fighter pilot’s oxygen mask.

2. Salem, USA

The town on Salem in the USA has become synonymous with witchcraft.

The town on Salem in the USA has become synonymous with witchcraft. Source: Supplied

The famous witch trials of Salem in 1692 saw twenty women hanged, five die in prison and many more accused of witchcraft.

While the jury is still out on whether these women were guilty as charged, this famous chapter in history remains synonymous with the town today.

Some say the uneasy souls of the condemned witches still haunt Salem at night seeking revenge for their untimely end.

3. Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an, China

The terracotta army figures were buried 2000 years ago.

The terracotta army figures were buried 2000 years ago. Source: Supplied

It took thousands of years for the first of the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an in China to be unearthed.

The ghost army was buried with China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang more than 2000 years ago to protect him in the afterlife.

Facing East in a rectangular battle array, each with unique facial expressions, the army boasts more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.

Soon after the emperor’s death, peasants revolted and destroyed the warriors, set the tomb on fire, and buried them in dirt and ash for thousands of years.

The vast ghost army lay undisturbed until farmers stumbled upon them in 1974.

Local folklore has it that the buried soldiers take their job of protecting their emporer’s tomb very seriously and are upset it continues to be disturbed by archaeological excavation.

4. the Mouth of Truth, Rome, Italy

Some believe the Mouth of Truth in Rome to be the ultimate lie detector.

Some believe the Mouth of Truth in Rome to be the ultimate lie detector. Source: Supplied

Legends abound about the Bocca della Verita (The Mouth of Truth) in Rome.

The ancient Roman marble disc is etched with the face of the god of the sea Oceanus.

It is believed the disc, which was once used to drain the blood of cattle sacrificed to the god of Hercules, is the ultimate lie de.tector

Locals say the mouth will close on the hand of anyone who utters an untruth.

These days anyone living near the statue in Santa Maria in Cosmedin won’t dare tempt fate by putting their fingers in its mouth for fear of losing one.

And some Italian parents still warn their children off telling lies by threatening a visit to Bocca della Verita.

5. The Lady of Lourdes, Lourdes, France

Lourdes is a popular destination for pilgrims. AFP PHOTO PASCAL PAVANI

Lourdes is a popular destination for pilgrims. AFP PHOTO PASCAL PAVANI Source: AFP

Lourdes, on the foothills of the Pyrenees in France, is home to arguably the world’s most famous religious apparition.

In 1858, 14-year-old peasant Bernadette Soubirous was greeted by a vision of a little girl on 18 separate occasions.

She said the girl was wearing a white dress tied with a blue ribbon, a white veil on her head and a yellow rose on each foot.

Her story was widely debated by the townspeople, yet by 1859, it had spread and thousands flocked to the town in hope of seeing it for themselves.

In 1864, a statue of the Lady of Lourdes was erected after a lengthy canonical investigation declared her vision worthy of belief.

6. The Ghost Miners, Humberstone, Chile

Dead miners are said to rise when the sun goes down in Humberstone, Chile.

Dead miners are said to rise when the sun goes down in Humberstone, Chile. Source: Supplied

Ghost sightings are so common in this South American town that some locals refuse to even step foot in it.

The former mining town of Humberstone in northern Chile was built in 1872 on the back of a booming salt mine.

During the Great Depression the town was abandoned and the starving workers who died before getting out were laid to rest in horrific open graves in the La Noria cemetery.

The ghost miners are said to rise at night and haunt the streets with sightings so frequent that the people of nearby village Iquique refuse to go near the town.

7. the Handcuffed Statue, Yangon, Myanmar

This statue is handcuffed every night to prevent nocturnal mischief.

This statue is handcuffed every night to prevent nocturnal mischief. Source: Supplied

To stop her from haunting the people’s dreams at night, a statue of a Burmese deity is handcuffed every night between 9pm and 6am.

According to the Buddhist beliefs, the statue of Mya Nan Nwe is an important “naga” or protector of cherished things which is said to guard the riches used to build the golden pagodas.

One such pagoda is Botatuang in Yangon built by the area’s earliest residents, the Mon people.

Worshippers believe Mya Nan Nwe can change itself into the spirit of a beautiful young girl in order to protect the pagoda’s gold.

In 2009, Burma’s former leader, General Than Shwe, ordered the kneeling statue inside the pagoda to be covered in a green robe and handcuffed every night.

He believed the girl came to him in a dream and warned him of the dire consequences of his government’s repression of the pro-democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

8. The Haunted Fort, Bhangarh, India

Spirits are said to roam the ancient fort of Bhangarh in India.

Spirits are said to roam the ancient fort of Bhangarh in India. Source: Supplied

Travellers are prohibited from visiting after dark to protect them from the spirits that are said to guard the ancient Bhangarh Fort.

Located 300kms south of Delhi en route to Jaipur, the village is renowned as the most haunted place in India.

Legend has it that the Hindu deity Baba Balanath only allowed its construction on the condition it cast no shadows over him.

But when the palace was built to a height high enough to cast a shadow his forbidden retreat, Balanath furiously cursed the fort until the end of time.

Locals prohibit visitors from entering after dark or before sunrise to protect them from the spirits they say guard the ruins, including that of Baba Balanath.

9. The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

The Castle of Good Hope is said to be the most haunted location in Cape Town with dozens

The Castle of Good Hope is said to be the most haunted location in Cape Town with dozens of scary stories attached to it. Source: Supplied

As the oldest city of South Africa, Cape Town has no shortage of spooky tales relating to its former inhabitants.

South Africans say The Castle of Good Hope is the most haunted location in the city.

Many workers and visitors have reported seeing ghosts roaming the grounds including a cloaked woman, a black dog and the former Governor.

Two years ago, an independent film crew spent the night in the castle and captured audio and footage of what they believed to be paranormal activity.

One of the producers even said he was slapped in the face by an invisible perpetrator.

10. The Virgins of the Sun God, Machu Pichu, Peru

The popular tourist attraction Machu Picchu is said to be haunted by numerous spirits.

The popular tourist attraction Machu Picchu is said to be haunted by numerous spirits. Source: Supplied

Rumours abound that Machu Picchu is haunted with the spirits of the young virgins who some believe were sacrificed to the Incan sun god, Inti.

While not all historians agree these ritual killings actually occurred at this site, a wander through the steep terraces and stone altars high in the Andes may make you wonder.

It is also said that apparitions of Incan high priests sometimes appear high on the hilltop as the sun rises.

One thing that is certain is that the ancient Incan city is one of the world’s most eerie and atmospheric destinations on earth.

Built about 1450 perched on a mountain ridge between two sacred peaks, the city was mysteriously abandoned 120 years later and left deserted for centuries.

Hidden by dense growth and known only to a handful of local farmers, the lost city was rediscovered by an American historian in 1911.

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Bizzare & Odd

The peak of deaths on Halloween: the history of 1918 repeats itself in the USA

In the United States, the history of a century ago is repeating itself: in 1918, the Halloween celebration was canceled due to the Spanish flu epidemic – the noise of parties disturbed the sick in the hospitals. Mass events were banned this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but many Americans still decorate their homes and are going to celebrate the holiday online. They did not break traditions in the White House either. At the same time, some US residents are wondering: is it worth celebrating Halloween in 2020, when all thoughts are about death due to the coronavirus?

Americans have already begun preparations for the Halloween celebration, despite the cancellation of mass events. The focus has shifted from hosting parties to decorating their own homes and virtual flash mobs in which Tiktokers offer to dress themselves up as dead Disney princesses . However, some social media users have questioned the need to celebrate Halloween this year, given the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This Halloween will be the scariest one,” they tweet.

100 years ago in the United States there was a similar situation : all Halloween parties were canceled due to the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide.

On the eve of Halloween, the number of cases of the Spanish flu increased – the second and most powerful wave of the epidemic occurred.

“Not only was there a peak in mortality on Halloween eve, but there were some pretty strong waves of disease,” Carolyn Orbann, assistant professor of medical sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia , told CNN . 

“The highest death rate was observed from October to December, possibly due to a more deadly strain of the virus and crowding in hospitals and military camps.”

However, those Americans who were not affected by the disease were tired of being locked up in quarantine and demanded a holiday. There are reports of local newspapers that year, which say that they celebrated more than ever “harsh and stormy”: and in Alabama, crowds of boys running from home to riots, forcing the police to drive on false calls and provoking accidents. A reporter for The Birmingham News wrote that after a month of quarantine, Birmingham residents were literally torn apart from the desire to celebrate Halloween.

“The Health Council’s order banning parties acted like a red rag for a bull — the killer joy of ordinary Halloween festivities poured in,” wrote local media in 1918. The Americans celebrated so vigorously that the San Francisco authorities had to ban people from making noise, because loud noises irritated patients in wards. 

“Conditions were dire in most places in the United States by October 31, 1918,” Elizabeth Otka, professor of English at the University of Richmond, told CNN. –

Shops, schools, churches were closed, there was devastation and the realization that celebrating Halloween was a bad idea.”

Denver has banned parties, during which they usually arranged “diving for apples, tying the tail to a donkey with a blindfold and other entertainment.” Many states have canceled Halloween celebrations for economic reasons – so as not to waste extra food supplies. “I saw a report from Missouri where they usually throw dry corn into each other’s house,” Orbann said. “But in 1918 the price of corn was too high to be scattered, and the children used sawdust to do it.”

Although public gatherings were banned in cities, some people threw house parties. “People did not break the rules, but adjusted to them,” the historian noted. Despite the horrors of the Spanish woman in 1918, people wanted to celebrate and visit each other, as now, in a pandemic, Elizabeth Otka notes. “1918 was remembered for the stacks of coffins and dead bodies, the gravediggers were simply exhausted,” she added. – Nevertheless, many continued to live as before, if none of their relatives was sick, forgetting how dangerous it can be.

It seems reasonable to spend Halloween this year differently, although I love the holiday, it’s great. But to stay alive, I think, is still better. “

To prevent a 100-year-old history from repeating itself on an entire scale, the Los Angeles authorities banned any Halloween parties, gathering at haunted houses, and children from running to neighbors for candy, although, according to tradition, they and so should be in masks and costumes – carnival. But the Americans are not discouraged and carry out flash mobs on the Internet. So, the participants of one of them on TikTok are invited to fantasize about what would become of the Disney princesses if they did not live to see the happy ending.

@charlottelooks

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Another resident in quarantine, Samantha Browning, came up with the idea of ​​painting Barbie toy doll houses for mysterious mansions from horror films. Her new hobby takes Samantha 5-10 hours. With Halloween approaching, items created in the summer have become more relevant, because now, in order to beg for sweets from neighbors, you don’t have to go to their houses, but do it in front of Samantha’s creations “contactlessly”.

“This year the pandemic canceled the traditional Halloween, but I decided to adapt the pipe railings on one of my mansions so that candy would slide down for families who still want to celebrate the holiday in a safe way,” explained Samantha on social media. “One of my dollhouses is on the inside veranda, and on Halloween night, I’ll probably put two of the creepiest houses outside with battery-powered candles.”

They did not cancel the holiday in the White House, even despite Trump’s illness. This was announced on Tuesday by CNN, citing a source. It is noted that when celebrating Halloween, the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be taken into account. 

This means adherence to the mask regime and other preventive measures. Usually on this day, relatives of the US administration staff , families of American military personnel and students of the capital’s schools are invited to the White House , and the head of state and the first lady treat children to sweets on the South Lawn of the White House.

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Coronavirus in Italy: the mysteries of the pandemic

How, after a summer respite, the Apennines seem to plunge into a coronavirus nightmare again.

From a country that until recently was considered one of the most prosperous in terms of the epidemiological situation, Italy, like Spain and France, is again moving into the category of “dangerous”. The growth of new infections, however, is not as rapid as that of neighbors, but quite noticeable. Even before October 10, it was possible to keep the daily increase within 2 thousand cases, but the threshold of 6 thousand has already been overcome. The number of new infected will increase, there is no doubt about it.

Six Dwarfs of Snow White

The Italian government has just adopted a new order, in which for the first time since the end of May, when the quarantine ended, restrictive measures are not lifted, but introduced. Among them: the end of team games for non-professional athletes, limiting the opening hours of drinking establishments in the evening, reducing the number of people invited to family ceremonies such as weddings, christenings and funerals to 30 people. While gyms, swimming pools and schools are open, the authorities assure that they will not switch to remote training again, as well as will not introduce a new nationwide total quarantine. The country simply cannot afford it, either from an economic or social point of view.

As in the entire period of the pandemic, certain decisions of the authorities are criticized and met with outright irony. So, many jokes were generated by the recommendation not to invite more than six guests. Images from “Snow White” immediately appeared on the Internet, where she kicks out the seventh dwarf. On the reproduction of the fresco “The Last Supper” two policemen were added to write out fines for the apostles, who are exactly twice the recommended number of participants in the feast.

Against this background, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte assured that the country will not turn into a police state and no one intends to send law enforcement officers to control private apartments. At the same time, he also strongly recommends not to disdain masks even at home – almost 70% of new infections occur in the bosom of family and friendly companies. At the same time, many pay attention to the problem of crowded public transport in large cities. And no one is in a hurry to solve it.

Summer “calm”

The second wave has been frightening for a long time, and it would be naive to believe that it could have been avoided. Its offensive, nevertheless quite unexpected, only exacerbated the issue of the summer “lull”. Why did the virus suddenly recede, give a break? The most obvious answer is quarantine. In Italy, it was introduced in early March and lasted until the second half of May. As the experience of the country, the first victim of a pandemic in Europe, has shown, there is no more effective means of countering the spread of coronavirus than self-isolation. In March, the Italians were seriously scared and for the most part obeyed the orders of the authorities. Despite the widespread stereotype about the indiscipline of the southern peoples, Italians – and the pandemic has demonstrated this once again – are quite manageable and led people.

The effect of almost three months of quarantine, namely a decrease in the number of infections, coincided with the onset of summer. Many people said that at high temperatures, the virus spreads more slowly and the viral load drops, although no one has scientifically proven this. But the fact is that during all three summer months the number of daily infections was kept at the level of 200-300. Hundreds of patients remained in hospitals, and intensive care units, previously suffocating from several thousand heavy covids, were practically empty. And this is another mystery of the new coronavirus.

In a word, people began to live as if in the old way: sea, mountains, air, good food and wine. Of course, many refused to travel abroad. But the first “swallows” made themselves felt quickly. The slightest movement led to the emergence of new foci. One of them was formed on the prestigious Emerald Coast on the island of Sardinia, and the infection affected the rich and famous who love to visit him, including the entire Berlusconi family and the former prime minister himself. Someone began to bring COVID-19 from resorts in Croatia and from Greece. In Spain, new infections have already crept. And those arriving from these countries began to take tests for the new coronavirus without fail. Now France, Great Britain, Belgium, as well as a number of other countries are already on this list. From somewhere, entry is simply prohibited, for example from Brazil.

Italy is overwhelmed by the second wave

The first noticeable surge in infections occurred in the second half of August. But everyone continued to pretend that nothing was happening. August bliss is sacred in Italy. In general, they are accustomed to masks, for many they have become a fashion accessory (as well as a subject of designer fantasy). In mid-September, as promised by the government, schools were opened, although it was also not without controversy, criticism and exposure of the system’s unavailability.

To date, there is no division into regions where the coronavirus is more common (north) and where it is less common (south), as it was in the spring, when the southern regions were saved. And this is especially troubling for the authorities, including regional ones, because if hospitalizations begin to grow proportionally, the hospitals in the south will not be able to withstand the load. So far, the fundamental difference between the current situation and what Italy experienced in the spring is that the number of hospitalized people is several times less. While. This is explained, in particular, by a decrease in the average age of those infected (from 60 to 40), and therefore, the disease caused by the new coronavirus is more easily tolerated by many. Some of the experts say that doctors have learned to heal better, learned more about the unpleasant surprises of COVID-19. And to prevent them, hospitalization is often needed.

And one more important observation: it is impossible to compare the current infection rates with the spring ones. Just for the reason that then only 30 thousand tests were carried out, but now they, including express, drive-in, are done up to 130 thousand per day. People stand in lines for hours to get tested. Many infected people are detected during a banal screening, which no one could even think of in the spring, because they had to cope with emergency cases. So the assumption that in the spring the real scale of infection was many times greater is quite justified. Then the official statistics recorded only cases with a “symptomatic course”. The virus, most likely, has not changed, and the solution is one – the vaccine.

The main fear now is uncertainty. People still only pretend that normal life has returned. But every day, with a sinking heart, you are afraid of a call from a kindergarten or school with a notification about the introduction of class quarantine due to the identification of an infected student or teacher. And it is even worse if they are told to urgently take their child, who has already been placed in an isolated room due to the low temperature. “Man proposes, but God disposes” – now sounds more relevant than ever.

Spring Lockdown Economic Price

In a purely economic sense, this is a decrease in GDP by 8-10%. For Italy, where economic growth in recent years has been virtually in lethargic sleep, this is devastating. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, although, oddly enough, against the background of existing problems, this damage seems to be less noticeable than, say, in the same more prosperous France or Spain. The tourism and cultural sectors, referred to as “Italian oil”, have been the hardest hit. Although in local tourism, everything was not bad everywhere. The Italians flooded their own seashores and mountain resorts. In many places popular with wealthy Italians, things have gone even better this year than in normal years, because, having stayed at home, this category of the population spent the money in the service sector that usually went on holidays abroad.

However, in general, representatives of the tourism sector say that the poorer domestic tourist is not able to compensate for the absence of more generous guests from the USA, Russia, Brazil, India and other countries. The greatest losses are incurred by the “art cities”. Venice in the summer had 60% fewer tourists, which means less income for a city that lives off tourism. A dramatic situation in some areas of Rome. Of course, the lockdown also affected the psychological health of the population. The magnitude of the damage in this sense is difficult to quantify, and most likely it will have an impact in the long term, especially in children, psychologists say. There were, of course, isolated cases of domestic violence, but in general there were no mass divorces.

“A new beginning”

There is also a relative positive in the situation around the pandemic. Italy should receive the lion’s share of funds from the European Recovery Fund. By the way, the resentment towards Europe, which appeared at the beginning when the European partners did not seem to show sufficient solidarity, seemed to have passed. There is a feeling that everyone is in the same boat.

The authorities talk about a “new beginning”, about incredible opportunities for renewal, building a new, more environmentally friendly economic system. It seems that in this endeavor they are even sincere. But then there is a shadow of the threat of the mafia, which is already encroaching on a tidbit, penetrating with its tentacles of the “octopus” into legal business everywhere. Innovative projects are stifled by a bureaucracy, which, despite all the bellicose promises, has so far failed to cope with. But one gets the impression that in a certain sense the people seem to have become a little happier. It’s as if the pandemic taught us to rejoice at the little that it had deprived for several months. Italians are reviving, and the quarantine period has shown that the nation is much more united and committed to its values, including state power, than it seemed.

Dark Period Symbols

Over the past months, there have been many stories engraved in memory. Many of them are reflected in the recently opened photo exhibition of the Foreign Press Association “Lockdown in Italy – through the eyes of foreign journalists”. This is how to remember everything. Many of those shots flew around the world and became symbols of the “dark period”, as the past spring is sometimes called in Italy. Of course, we cannot forget the caravan of military trucks that transported the coffins with the victims of the coronavirus infection from Bergamo. Most of them were old people, and they died alone – they did not let their loved ones. Thoughts about this break my heart to this day.

But I especially remembered a small note in one of the newspapers – a letter of recognition from a student. It was published in the summer, when many restrictions were lifted and even discos were opened. The girl wrote that she followed all the precautions, did not meet with anyone, but was seduced by her best friend’s birthday, which was celebrated in a nightclub. As a result, she became infected, there were no symptoms, so she learned about the coronavirus when her father was admitted to the hospital with complications. In an open letter, the girl reproached herself. We do not exclude that that publication had a certain ideological task and the letter was written by the editorial board. But it raises a moral problem that has plagued the entire pandemic – responsibility and guilt if you become, even through no fault of your own, a carrier of infection. A Nightmare at the thought of who needs to be warned!

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A haunted toilet was installed in an amusement park in Japan

A spooky haunted toilet has been installed in Japan’s Lagunasia amusement park. As planned, the spirit of a young girl named Hanako-san lives in the restroom.

The horror concept is based on an urban legend. In the run-up to Halloween, this will be a great festive addition. In addition, it is located according to all the new “coronavirus rules”.

“The idea behind a haunted house is to walk into a separate toilet room and enjoy the haunted house while maintaining social distance,” explained  Ivana Kent, producer of haunted house design company Kowagarasetai .

The attraction invites you to enter the toilet cubicle. But you can’t enjoy being alone. The spirit of the late Hanako-san will open the door or peep from above, making scary sounds.

“When I entered the dark toilet, I was already scared. Then, when I heard Hanako-san’s story, there was a sound. It scared me even more, and when the spirit appeared from above, I was scared the most, ”said Hiroko Fujioka, a visitor of the attraction  .

According to the founder of the attraction, a person experiences the most terrible emotions when something terrible looks at him from above. This is the most common occurrence in Japanese ghost stories.

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