Whether it's battling robots in Tokyo, dining (literally) with the dead in India, or chasing an enormous wheel of cheese downhill in England, there's weird happening all over the world. Not all of these recommendations will suit everyone's tastes, that's for sure - some people prefer a relaxing, uneventful vacation on the beach with a drink in hand and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
However, if you're bored of always playing the role of the traditional tourist then it's time to switch it up and plan a trip to one or more of the odd spots below.
1. The Phallus Museum, Iceland
Yup, you read that right. In Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, there is a museum dedicated solely to the penis. Elephant penis, whale penis, hamster penis, even a human penis (I know what you're thinking, who even donated that though?!). The museum also features phallic art and sculptures you're free to browse through - just don't question the collection's legitimacy though, because to quote the museum's founder: "Collecting penises is like collecting anything. You can never stop, you can never catch up, you can always get a new one, a better one." Well alrighty, then.
3. The Robot Restaurant, Tokyo
It's tough to pick out just one strange thing you can experience in Japan, as the country is full of unique oddities, but the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is definitely up there on the list. Apparently you sit in a neon-lit room eating bento box and drinking beer while 10-foot-tall robots are paraded around the room by girls in sparkly bikinis, battling one another while Gangnam Style plays in the background. According to one traveller, "it gets weirder, as a rollerskating robot clown in an Afro wig starts dancing with a Kung-Fu Panda, more girls emerge hanging from a neon-lit army tank, there's hand-to-hand combat between a Transformer and a bikini-clad dancer, and then someone charges through the stage area piloting a robot dinosaur."
3. Harbin Ice Festival, China
You may have heard of the Carnaval de Québec that takes place every year in Québec City, but they ain't got nothing on the citizens of Harbin, who build an entire city made exclusively of ice and lit up at night in dancing neon colours. It's considered the largest ice festival in the world and uses laser technology to construct the awe-inspiring structures. Their magnificence melts away every spring and built back up again annually.
4. New Lucky Restaurant, India
At this restaurant in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat, you can have a perfectly pleasant dinner experience... dining with the dead. Literally. The restaurant was built on a cemetery and rather than trying to avoid or cover remnants of the property's past, the store owners decided to place the graves on full display among diners. Creepy? That may just be up to personal opinion, as the owners have said the... unique design concept has been great for business.
5. Cheese-Rolling Festival, England
Want to chase a giant wheel of cheese down an incredibly steep hill, trying to be the first to catch the cheese while dozens of other people attempt to do the same? Some of the crazy folk of Gloucester do. The event is so dangerous and considered so foolish that authorities have tried to ban it, but apparently to no avail. If you want a piece of the action (and a chance to win the cheese wheel for yourself), head to Coopers Hill in Gloucester in May - just try not to leave the event with a broken neck!
6. Alpine skiing on Mauna Kea, Hawaii
You can go skiing on Mauna Kea, a mountain that claims the highest point in Hawaii at over 4200 metres. If you thought Hawaii was solely for summer sports, you thought wrong - Mauna Kea, meaning "white mountain" is a popular ski destination. Possibly the coolest thing about skiing on Mauna Kea is that you can grab your après-ski drinks on the warm sandy beaches down below, experiencing a taste of both winter and summer in one day!
7. Heart Attack Grill, Las Vegas
This Nevada restaurant has apparently been featured on television, and one can immediately see why - the grill's concept is exactly what it sounds like. The waitresses are dressed as nurses, you are dressed in a hospital gown, and if you don't finish your meal the waitresses will spank you with a paddle. I am not making this up, you have to watch the short intro video on their website's home page if you don't believe me. Oh, they also have something called a "quadruple bypass burger" and anyone over 350 lbs eats for free... but several customers have indeed been carried away in ambulances experiencing real heart attacks. Makes you wonder, how is a place like this even allowed to exist?
8. Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand
Specifically, the macaque monkey is king at this annual festival in November in Lopburi, Thailand. Festival-goers leave 9000 lbs of food for the 3000 macaques in attendance, watching as the monkeys stuff themselves with food, climb over people's heads, and join in with the humans during song and dance. Hold on tightly to your smartphone or camera though - the mischievous little monkeys are known to grab your possessions and run!
9. Chillout Ice Lounge, Dubai
Celebrated as "the Middle East's first sub-zero lounge" this lounge exudes the exuberance we have all come to expect from Dubai. Visitors are given parkas, gloves and woolen socks and are advised to spend some time in a midway room set at 5 degrees Celsius in order to adjust to the temperature before heading into the main lounge set at -6 degrees for a hot drink or meal. I guess it's just another day in the life of the average Canadian then, eh? Still, the intricate ice sculptures, iced seating, and diffused multi-coloured lights dancing through the ice make this a unique experience for any traveller all the same.
10. Disaster Café, Spain
This restaurant in Spain is set up to have you enjoy your food while experiencing the tremors of an earthquake at any given time during the meal. Not just any flimsy earthquake, either - if you dine here, be prepared for a 7.8 earthquake at some point during dinner. I would recommend maybe not ordering the soup.
11. Burning Man, USA
Many of us have heard of Burning Man by now but have yet to experience it. Ask anyone who has gone to this annual festival in Nevada and they will tell you that it's an experience truly difficult to describe. Every August, art installations are set up in the desert, the drugs flow free, and the entire thing is best described as one of those crazy dreams that you realize doesn't make much sense upon waking up. The games and events offered change from year to year, from human petting zoos to a life-sized version of the Hungry Hungry Hippo game - you only need to do a simple Google search to read up on some of the weird stuff that goes down at Burning Man.
12. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
Who would want to play in the mud? Two million people annually in South Korea do. Mud wrestling, mud slides, mud races and mud fireworks, this July summer festival in Boryeong offers it all. Ironically enough, there is a soap-making workshop too, which should prove useful after rolling around in sludge all day long.
13. Dinner in the Sky, Various Locations
Alright, if you've got a fear of heights, definitely leave this one off your bucketlist (or do it and be a total daredevil?). Originally from Belgium, this concept took off in 2006 and is now offered in various cities around the world. Basically, you are strapped into your seat - like a roller coaster - while you and a dozen other diners are lifted, table, silverware, grill and all, above your city's skyline while your chef makes your food in front of you. At one point, this amazing dining experience was even offered in Toronto a couple years back, although you'll have to check the website to see their current and upcoming locations.
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