Trina Merry (previously) has created "Lost in Wonder," a series of trompe l'oeil photos in which painted models are posed against many of the world's great wonders, vanishing into the background. Read the rest
If you're in Ikebukuro and need a cozy, bookish bed for the night, try Book and Bed, a "designed hostel" that hides coffin-hotel-style bunks among bookshelves lined with handsome volumes and rolling ladders. The books aren't for sale, but you're welcome to read them in your bunk. Read the rest
UK artist Hedley Wiggan carved lipsticks into iconic tourist attractions for the International Lipstick Colours of the Year exhibit at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. Wiggan usually makes his micro-sculptures out of pencil lead, like the examples below of The Beatles and a witch.
See more of Hedley Wiggan's artwork here.
Tonopoah, NV's Clown Motel is a relic of the Gold Rush town's faded glory years, and it is filled with clowns. Hundreds of clowns stare from every corner, the walls are hung with clown-portraits, and there is a "historic miners' cemetery" out the motel's back door, wherein rest the mouldering corpses of the victims of a mysterious epidemic that is only known as "Tonopah plague." Redditors who've stayed at the Clown Motel have taken to this thread to one-up one-another with tales of the establishment's freaky weirdness. Norwegiancoconut dropped a link to this gallery of photos from a previous stay.
Kawasaki's Warehouse arcade, near Yokohama, is a fantastically detailed, gritty recreation of the old walled city of Kowloon, near Hong Kong. The Tokyo Times photos depict a place that's like a fevered Gibson dream, and note that there's an accompanying, spooky soundscape. This is going on my must-see list for our next Japan trip. Read the rest
The Winchester Mystery House is San Jose, CA's legendary tourist attraction, built by Sarah Winchester, widow of the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, who believed that she was haunted by the spirits of Native Americans who'd been murdered with the guns and designed and ordered the construction of over 160 rooms that she designed by means of automatic writing in a special seance room.
It's just been granted a permit to allow for overnight stays in the house, along with the right to sell booze throughout the property. Now I know what I'll be doing the next time I'm in northern California. Read the rest
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's Olympian deputy prime minister warned a Wall Street Journal reporter that he would release hidden-camera footage of journalists in their hotel bathrooms if they continued to complain about the substandard hotels in Sochi.
Just a reminder for anyone thinking of travelling to Sochi after the Olympics for a spot of tourism: according to Russia's deputy prime-minister, the hotel bathrooms have surveillance cameras that watch you in the shower. Read the rest
As journalists descend on Sochi for the most corrupt Olympics in history, they're discovering the region's Potemkin hospitality industry. The hotels that were meant to billet them while they reported on the games are half-built, unbuilt, falling to bits: but at least they've had their portraits of Vladimir Putin installed. Slave labor just isn't what it used to be. Read the rest
Mount Everest isn't the only natural wonder experiencing a ridiculous increase in tourism --and, with it, trash, ecological damage, and risk. At the Arizona Republic, Brandon Loomis writes about the massive increases in athletic backcountry tourism at the Grand Canyon. It's easy to see the similarities to previous stories you've read about crowds of hikers on Everest. Just last month, Loomis writes, 224 rim-to-rim hikers — people who march down one side of the canyon and back up the other in a day, a vertical change of 10,000 feet — converged on a rest area all at once.
A multilingual petition to Bob Iger asks for Disney's CEO and top management to do something about the (frankly, pretty terrible) condition of Disneyland Paris, a park I've stopped visiting (though it's closest to me), due to the poor staffing, poor maintenance, bad (and expensive) food and hotels, and large number of out-of-service attractions and shows. Read the rest
The (awful and not usually very trustworthy) New York Post reports that rich New Yorkers pay thousands of dollars to an Orlando area service that rents out disabled people to accompany them to Walt Disney World in order to jump the lines. The article says that there's a word-of-mouth underground in New York's priciest private schools, in which parents pass on the details of the service, which is allegedly called Dream Tours Florida:
Passing around the rogue guide service’s phone number recently became a shameless ritual among Manhattan’s private-school set during spring break. The service asks who referred you before they even take your call.
“It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully,” said social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin, who caught wind of the underground network while doing research for her upcoming book “Primates of Park Avenue.”
“Who wants a speed pass when you can use your black-market handicapped guide to circumvent the lines all together?” she said.
“So when you’re doing it, you’re affirming that you are one of the privileged insiders who has and shares this information.”
Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World [Tara Palmeri/New York Post] Read the rest
Chinese tourists say a crooked tour-operator who'd promised them the best sightseeing in New Zealand and a buffet dinner instead took them to a bunch of public parks and then dumped them in the line at a soup-kitchen:
Chinese visitor says tour operator told him charity event was Govt treat. (Thanks, Juha!) Read the rest
"I thought it was a real bargain, but the main reason we decided to go with him was because we thought it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin," he said.
"I was shocked to find out later from media reports that the Christmas lunch was a charity lunch for the poor and homeless, and that most of the places we had been taken to were free and were not meant for tourists."
A TVNZ Christmas Day news report said Chinese tourists on organised tours were among the 2800 people at the Viaduct Events Centre for the annual charity lunch.