Photo Of The Day: Biking In Cambodia

Today’s Photo Of The Day was taken by Luke Destefano, and depicts a cyclist at the water’s edge in Siem Riep, Cambodia. I love the way this photograph simultaneously captures a perfect silhouette (complete with a bike basket, a relaxed hand and flowing, long hair) and a background blurred by the mist rising from the water. Capturing the essence of biking in Cambodia, this photo is titled “take your time” on Flickr. Have you spent time in Cambodia? Do you have photos from your travels? If you’d like to share your images with us, upload your photos to the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Unusual aphrodisiacs from Asian countries

Wondering how to get you or your partner more in the mood for sex? Instead of opting for expensive pills or unnatural remedies, why not learn from the Asian culture and try one of these libido-boosting aphrodisiacs? From dangerously poisonous fish to fertilized duck embryo or snake’s blood, it is clear some people really will try anything to have good sex. While these odd ingestants may be useful for people in Asia, I’m thinking that others may want to stick to increasing their libido the old-fashioned way: getting drunk and watching porn.

Balut

Balut is a common finger food in Southeast Asia and is literally an almost-developed duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. If you want to try this delicacy for yourself, head over to the Philippines, where it is most common, or Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia. It’s a very popular food to enjoy at bars while drinking a beer, which makes me wonder if it’s the Balut making people horny or the alcohol.Bull Balls Soup

Bull Balls Soup, also known as Soup #5, originated in the Philippines and is a dish made from the bull’s penis or testicles. The genitalia is washed and then scorched in boiling water before being cut into small pieces. These bits are then simmered in a pot along with other meats, vegetables, and ginger. Not only is it said to be tasty, but also the bull’s genitals in the soup are believed to have a higher potency than even Viagra.

Durian

It’s hard to believe anything that smells this bad could be considered arousing, but this odorous fruit is said to have a strong aphrodisiac power. In fact, in Indonesia a common saying is “the durians fall and the sarongs come up.” The stench of the fruit is so overwhelming that many public venues like restaurants, hotels, and buses prohibit durian from being brought inside. I guess some people find unpleasant smells sexy.

Monkey Brains

While the eating of monkey brains is controversial – the practice has, unfortunately, led to the over-killing of the animal in Indonesia – it is actually enjoyed in many countries around the world due to the dish’s believed ability to cure erectile dysfunction. Disturbingly, many people enjoy eating the brains of the monkey while the animal is still alive, although laws are currently being implemented to make this illegal. Before you go digging into this delicacy, however, just know that in return for horny side-effects, you’re running the risk of acquiring Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an illness similar to Mad Cow.

Snake’s Blood/Wine

In Asia, snake products in general are believed to create an unusually high sex drive. One way to achieve an increased libido is by drinking a concoction made by infusing the essence and venom of a poisonous snake into grain alcohol or rice wine (shown right). While this may not sound appealing, your other option is to slice a poisonous snake open and drink the blood straight out of its body.

Tiger Penis Soup

As we’re basically talking about the power of the penis here, it’s not surprising that a number of Asian aphrodisiacs are literally penises. Although the tiger is near extinction, that doesn’t stop locals of China and Southeast Asia from consuming the appendage for its sex-enhancing properties. Making the soup is a time-consuming process, as the tiger penis must be dried out and then soaked in water for a week. From there, the penis is simmered with spices and other ingredients. Sound tasty? Because of the difficulty of procuring the penis of an endangered animal, a bowl of this stuff can cost a few hundred dollars.

Caterpillar Fungus

Caterpillar fungus, or “dong chong xia cao” (summer grass, winter worm) in Chinese, has been a popular element of Chinese medicine for hundreds of years as a way to treat cancer, exhaustion, and, of course, impotency. The product is created during the winter when the ghost moth caterpillar burrows into the ground and hibernates. During this time a fungi enters the caterpillar’s body and eats it from the inside. Eventually, the caterpillar fungus will erupt from the dead insect’s head. While this may sound like the plot of a horror movie, this natural sex-enhancer can cost over $100 per gram depending on where you purchase it.

Bird’s Nest Soup

While many people think of a bird’s nest as nature’s architecture, others enjoy it as a tasty and libido-boosting meal. The soup is not made with just any old bird’s nest, but one made of solidified saliva, as these have the best texture for creating the cuisine. To make the dish, the nest is dissolved in water and, depending on if it is a natural white or red nest, can cost over $100 for a bowl.

Hagfish

This slime-producing eel is the only animal on the planet that has a skull but no vertebral column or jaw, making it difficult to classify. Although many are unsure as to whether the Hagfish is behind or ahead of the evolution process, one thing is certain – people from Southeast Asia love them. So what is it about these odd-looking creatures that turn people on? Most likely, it is the resemblance to a penis in shape and its production of a large amount of slimy liquid when stroked.

Dog Meat

Though many Westerners may object, in certain Asian countries it is said that eating dog meat creates a warm sensation throughout the body that is linked to passion, intensity, and carnal urges. What’s really unsettling isn’t so much the fact that it’s dog meat that’s being eaten, but that it is believed that the slower and more painful the death of the animal, the more flavorful the meat and the stronger the effects on sexual stamina. I guess for some this is worth it for a steamy night of passion.

[images via raeky, BorgQueen, Genghiskhanviet, Magnus Manske, Lmozero]

New dark tourism sites open all over the world

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, “dark tourism” refers to visiting sites associated with grief, tragedy, or death. While some people may debate the ethics of visiting these types of sites, they often provide educational, enlightening, and even life-changing experiences for those who do. When I was in Munich, Germany, I took a day trip to see Dachau Concentration Camp (shown right) and learned a lot about the site and the Holocaust in general that I had not known before. While it wasn’t an easy experience, I did see the value of visiting such a site for the awareness factor as well as to stop these past tragedies from happening again.

Although dark tourism first gained prominence between the 18th and 19th centuries, the interest in these types of sites is still growing. Here are some new dark tourism sites open all over the world, as well as some that have garnered an integral status throughout the years.

New

Napoleonland
France

Napoleonland, which will be created to honor military leader and politician Napoleon Bonaparte, is expected to be completed by 2017. It will be a theme park that will include shops, museums, hotels, and restaurants. While this may sound fun, the site of the attraction will reside on the very spot where Napoleon’s troops fought and defeated the Austrian army about 200 years ago. A water show resembling the Battle of Trafalgar, a ski run containing the frozen bodies of dead soldiers, a re-creation of Louis XVI literally losing his head on the guillotine, and other war-related and morbid interactive exhibits will all be featured.Singapore Bomb Shelter
Singapore

The Singapore Bomb Shelter, believed to be the last of island-country’s bomb shelters, opened at the end of 2011 to visitors. To help commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Singapore as well as raise awareness about Singapore’s war history, the National Heritage Board is leading tours of the shelter. During WWII air raids, this 1,500 square meter space was used as protection for about 100 people. Until now it has been hidden from the public, and for the most part is still in its original condition.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum
New York

As a reminder of the worst terrorist attack ever to hit United States’ soil, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened to the public in September, 2011. The memorial and museum resides at the site of the former World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan and honors the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on that tragic day in 2001. The memorial section contains two acre-sized reflecting pools that sit where the Twin Towers once stood, as well as the biggest man-made waterfall on the continent. Moreover, bronze panels list the names of all those who lost their lives in the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. While the museum section is not open yet, it will include exhibitions such as a look at the events leading up to the disaster, portraits of those who lost their lives, the architectural history of the buildings, and more.

Integral

Robben Island
South Africa

Robben Island is a museum and World Heritage Site that opened to the public in 1997. Now South Africa’s most popular tourist attraction, it was once an apartheid-era maximum security prison that held some of history’s most well-known political leaders, like Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty years on the island, and current deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. Visitors can experience tours of the facilities, precinct attractions like a Muslin Shrine and a museum shop, watch educational videos, and speak with a former political prisoner.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Japan

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a memorial to those who lost their lives during the U.S. nuclear bomb attack in 1945. While more than 140,000 died when the bomb hit the city, thousands more were killed in the aftermath, including 80,000 lost lives three days later in the Nagasaki atomic attack. The park was opened in 1954 on a field that was created from the bomb explosion. Dozens of monuments and tombs are erected throughout, some of which include the Peace Clock Tower (shown right), which chimes daily at 8:15 to remember the time when the world saw its first atomic bomb, the Peace Bell, a symbol of “spiritual and cultural movement”, and the Flame of Peace, which “expresses condolence for victims unable to satisfy their thirst for water, as well as the desire for nuclear abolition and enduring world peace”.

Choeng Ek Killing Fields & Security Office 21
Cambodia

The Choeng Ek Killing Fields and Security Office 21 (S-21) were once areas of extreme tragedy during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. Once a peaceful village, Choeng Ek was transformed into violent killing fields. Moreover, S-21 was actually a high school that was converted into a center for interrogation, torture, and murder, with only seven of the 14,000 who entered surviving. During this time the Khmer Rouge actually took careful notes and took almost 6,000 photographs, which can be seen during a visit to the site.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is home to one of the most iconic battlefields in the United States as well as a rich but tragic history. The Battle of Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, with over 51,000 lives lost. It was also the motivator of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as well as a turning point in the war that stopped General E. Lee’s aggressive northern invasion. In November, 1863, President Lincoln officially dedicated Soldiers’ National Cemetery and, with more than 1.5 million annual visitors to Gettysburg Military Park, the city is an extremely popular tourist destination.

Slave Castles of Cape Coast, Ghana
Africa

In Cape Coast, Ghana, there are two well-known slave castles that bring visitors back to the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade, Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle. Guided tours offer visitors the chance to learn about and see the dungeons where slaves were kept in inhumane conditions as well as the Door of No Return (Cape Coast Castle), which was the gateway to a life of slavery in the west.

Vagabond Tales: Lunch on Guilty Beach, Cambodia

Lunch on Guilty Beach was a tough meal to swallow.

If you look on a map of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, you’ll find beaches such as Victory Beach and Independence Beach, but you’ll find no such place as Guilty Beach. Regardless of what a map might say, unofficially, every beach in Cambodia is Guilty Beach.

Guilty Beach is not just a Cambodian phenomenon, but rather a global destination that can be found along coastlines the world over. It’s in Los Cabos, Mexico, in the shadow of the famous Cabo arch. It’s in Jaco, Costa Rica, backed up by sagging palm trees and world class surf. It’s in Asilah, Morocco; it’s in Mabul, Malaysia. Guilty Beach is every beach in the world where those unfortunate individuals living well below the poverty line–many of them children–work the beach in the hope of squeaking out much less than a living; most likely, they’re just trying to make that night’s dinner.

While beach merchants and scam artists can often be viewed as hawkers selling goods you would never want, Guilty Beach, Cambodia is thusly labeled because here it is different. Children don’t prod you to buy some fake sunglasses–they simply ask for a bite of your food. Men don’t sell knockoff jewelry for extra beer money. Rather, children sell bracelets while carrying their infant brother in their arms because their parents are too sick, or worse, dead.

Guilty Beach is thusly named because I no longer want that $2 plate of fried noodles, or that $1 can of beer. How can I accept that $2 plate of food when I just told an 11 year-old girl I didn’t want her $2 bracelet? Then to eat it in front of her, as her eyes fail to flinch from the fried fare before me.
So why not buy the $2 bracelet? Why not donate my meal? Because the sad reality is knowing you cannot help them all; that there are no amount of bracelets that will heal this heart wrenching dilemma. Furthermore, the precedent set by rewarding begging can be far more disastrous than the apparent problems you’re trying to prevent.

Finally, it’s a somber truth knowing that these innocent faces, with bulging stomachs and bulging eyes, are merely working for someone above them, whether it’s family or otherwise. The average tourist won’t buy sliced mango from a fully grown man, but they’ll open up their wallet for a child. And sadly, everyone knows it. These are merely conscripted child soldiers in a brutal reality of poverty and survival.

“They tell us to say that,” the little girl confesses. She has just asked us to “open our hearts by opening our wallets.” It’s a heavy line that’s been proven to work.

How do you deny an 11 year-old girl of $2 while she holds an infant and tries not to cry? How do you not look at all of them, 20 or 30 deep, wishing you could buy all of their bracelets so they can go play in the water like all 9 and 11 year-olds should?

Even if you buy them from two, three, or eight different children, eventually you have to tell one no, and is their pain dampened any by the fact you just helped the eight previous? The guilt is nonetheless the same. A line intrinsically must be drawn somewhere, but that line never gets any less painful, or justifiable. We gave the girl $1 for a smaller bracelet, and she left despondently, a sense of failure in her face. Nobody wins in this game.

Even more, who am I that you should even feel the need to beg to me? I don’t deserve this phony pedestal you place me upon. I don’t deserve this plate of food you lust after. I don’t deserve to sit on this beach, in this comfortable chair, and lead an easier life than you.

Lunch on Guilty Beach was a tough meal to swallow.