Wanderer

Panda Palace

Tucked away at the foot of Emei mountain in Emeishan, China, there is, quite frankly, a hotel that is the epitome of unrealised fears: The Haoduo Panda Inn. Personally, I love pandas, but if given the choice of staying in The Overlook hotel or this Inn, I think I’d choose room 237 (or 217 for those of you who have read the book) in The Overlook Hotel than this place. Actually, that’s probably going a bit far. But still, this hotel is just… terrifying. Even more so because it’s real.

It’s not the Panda decor and the multitude of cuddly, stuffed panda toys scattered everywhere that freaks me out – it’s the people dressed as pandas. I mean… is that the hotel’s uniform? In which case, to my lovely friends in America who were just the other day talking to me about your difficulty in gaining visas and experience to work in China… I think experience as a football mascot would suffice for this job. Sorry though, you’ll have to figure out how Chinese work visas work for yourself.

So… If the hotel hire people to dress as pandas… What are the duties of their job? Free panda hugs? Panda tea parties… How do you communicate with a person pretending to be a panda? Are they allowed to speak? Or do they just make… Panda noises?

The thirty-two rooms all all themed – yes, they’re all panda themed, but more specifically, they’re themed around anime, film, tea, cars… and paper cutting. Intermingled with the panda theme.

Perhaps the panda costumes are a complimentary compulsory part of a person’s stay at the hotel… breakfast included, bath towels available, panda suits supplied in a variety of sizes, along with little panda-shaped chocolates on your panda-shaped pillow.

If you were quirky enough to want to stay here, a ‘Mini Panda’ room starts at 688RMB a night, which is about £67, or 2388RMB for a European suite – about £233.

Crazy.

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Wanderer

Quirky Corners of the World: Tasmania’s Totem Pole

How amazing would this spot be to climb?

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Found in Tasmania (I bet you’d never have guessed with a name like ‘Tasmania’s Totem Pole’!), which for those of you who are utterly rubbish at geography, is a state island 150 miles from the southern coast of Australia, and a part of its commonwealth. To be honest, you say Tasmania, I think devil:

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The totem pole is in fact, a stacked rock, and, you guessed it, the result of years, and years, and years, and years of erosion stripping away layer after layer of rock, etc etc. Basically from erosion, the cliffs and rocks become arches similar to this one:

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More erosion…. blah blah blah, the top of the arch crumbles away, the sea smooths out the stack, and one day… you have a totem pole. And lo, where you have interesting vertical rocks, soon enough you get a load of skinny, taut-muscled, free-spirited travellers (or you know, Aussies), with dreadlocks, a van full of climbing gear and the same climbing itch that I get – little old dreadlock-free, skinny, invisible-muscled English me.

I don’t really know why I get such an urge to climb any rock I see. Especially big ones like this one. I’m terrified of heights. Skydiving did not cure that fear. Nor has climbing. What is even more unnerving is the fact that the constant base erosion of the waves beating against it, means that sooner or later, the Tasmanian Totem Pole will collapse. Even now, its base stands at just four metres wide. Not something you’ want to topple mid-climb, right?

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I suggest, if any of you are getting the itch to skip on over to Tasmania (or in my case, a whole ten thousand, five-hundred and seventy-one, according to Google Maps), i’d be quite quick about it, because who knows for how much longer this amazing, adrenaline-inducing climb will even be an option!

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