The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recently shared a video about a unique natural phenomenon in a village called Dinoša, located in southeastern Montenegro—a small country on the Adriatic coast. There is a mulberry tree standing in the meadow there that turns into a fountain whenever it rains heavy. From a hollow on the tree trunk water can be seen gushing abundantly.
Apparently, the rains had flooded the underground springs and the additional pressure created pushed water up the tree trunk through cracks or hollows on the trunk, until it poured out of a hole a few feet above the ground. As you can see from the video, the ground is quite sloppy indicating the amount of groundwater there is in the soil and below. You can … Read the rest
Alexander Fleming is widely known as the brilliant microbiologist who gave the world the miraculous life-saving drug called antibiotic. But he also had an artistic side that is perhaps less well known. Fleming was a member of London’s Chelsea Arts Club, where he tried his hand at watercolor and created compositions that were amateurish at best. But his artistic talents didn’t lie in watercolors or pencil sketches but in another medium—living organism.
Fleming was one of the first scientists to use microbes to create works of art. He painted ballerinas, houses, soldiers, mothers feeding children, stick figures fighting and many other scenes on petri dishes using microbes. Fleming produced these artwork by culturing microorganisms having different natural pigments on petri dishes to create colorful patterns. He … Read the rest
Gin Pahits in Kuala Lumpur
It’s noon. I’ve just exited the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, and am already sweating. It isn’t far to the Majestic Hotel, but the sun is brutal, and there’s a busy six-lane road to cross. While this might seem like a lot of effort for a drink, it isn’t just any drink I’m after.
The gin pahit was one of colonial British Malaya’s favorite cocktails, but seems to have fallen out of favor. It disappeared from the Raffles menu in Singapore years ago, and when I asked for one at the Eastern and Oriental in Penang, the bartender looked at me like I was speaking Aramaic.
From the corner of Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur looks much … Read the rest
Jianbing in Beijing
While studying abroad in Beijing this past summer, I gained 18 pounds in a little more than two months. Jianbing, Beijing’s street food of choice, was almost single-handedly responsible for this.
My favorite place in this breakfast-obsessed city was an unassuming cart in a narrow Dongcheng alleyway, Da Hua Jianbing. I visited so frequently that the elderly vendor, Mr. Niu, nicknamed me Fàntǒng—Chinese slang for “fatty.”
Jianbing, a dish that comes from northeastern China, has a history stretching back nearly 2,000 years, though no one is sure of its exact origins. Mr. Niu liked to tell me his own personal spin on the story of Beijing’s beloved snack. He said it was rooted in the Three Kingdoms Period, when one of … Read the rest
On a cold January morning in 2005, in the village of Saru in southern Estonia, farmer Rein Kıiv and his son made a curious discovery. On the sandy floor of their shed, they found a cluster of 16 rats with their tails inexplicably tangled into a knot. The rats were squeaking and struggling to escape but the harder they pulled the tighter the knot became. The animals were apparently trying to dig themselves out of a narrow burrow but in the struggle some of them got buried under the sand. Seven of the rats in the tangle were already dead. Rein’s son decided to put the diabolic little scene to an end, and picking up a stick, killed the rest of the wretched animals.
Rein Kıiv … Read the rest
Iceberg Beer in Newfoundland
They call the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador Iceberg Alley, the place where ocean currents deposit icebergs that have broken off in Greenland and floated for two or three years before arriving on the North American continent. Something about the ocean currents and other forces of nature bring them closer to shore in early summer than at any other time of the year.
We thought it would be interesting to see a bunch of icebergs up close—you know, before they all melt. And since we would be on shore for the most part, there would be no risk of a Titanic-like disaster.
The Iceberg Finder app tracks the daily movement of icebergs so that people can follow them and spot them from … Read the rest
Cupcakes in Yuksom
After six days of trekking in Kanchenjunga National Park, we returned to Yuksom with leaden feet and plenty of food cravings. A sleepy little village in India’s West Sikkim district, Yuksom is the base for the Dzongri Goecha La mountain pass. Come April and October, there are more trekkers milling about than locals. The road leading to the park is lined with tiny stalls selling jackets, socks, shoes, poles, and other climbing gear.
There are only a handful of places to eat, Guptaji’s among them. Over the next two days, we went there to eat plate after plate of fried chicken, sample Tibetan bread, and drink copious amounts of black tea. From Guptaji’s, we watched children go to school in Jeeps and trekkers … Read the rest
Cojoyo in Nicaragua
Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, shaped like a figure eight, with a volcano on each “O.” It is rural and slow-moving: more people on horseback than in cars, noisy only with birdsong, gales, and howler monkeys. In its sole museum reside some 1000-year-old petroglyphs, and a 1,500 year-old dildo.
At least, that is the best guess of archaeologists. It sits unassumingly behind glass alongside other local prehistoric works, maroon-colored, and shaped like a water-bong on its side. We had all ventured, to the grinning silence of our boyish tour guide, Jol, that it was a pipe. But greater minds had determined that the artifact could not be smoked, nor played as an instrument.
Jol invited us for shots … Read the rest
Egg Custard and Milk Toast in Hong Kong
The line outside Australia Dairy Company this morning is dozens deep. I’ve typically got zero patience for restaurant lines, but a trustworthy Hong Kong native has directed me here, to the Kowloon Peninsula’s Jordan neighborhood, in my pursuit of steamed egg-custard—bowls of which are stacked in the lightly fogged-up front window.
It’s named for the founder’s long-ago stint on an Australian farm, but Australia Dairy Company is a fully Hong Kong institution: a cha chaan teng, which is a sort of quick-serve diner that evolved in the post-war, newly urbanizing and industrializing city, whose swelling working class sought a place to sit and eat cheap but nourishing meals outside the home. Cha chaan teng food skews to … Read the rest