Welsh lighthouse plans statue for local ghost

Caretakers of an historic 17th century lighthouse in northern Wales are planning to erect a statue to a famous resident–the ghost of a former lighthouse keeper.

Locals and holidaymakers have had numerous sightings of the man standing atop the old lighthouse, pictured here. He is described as wearing old-fashioned clothing and is sometimes seen quite clearly during broad daylight. The building has been locked and unused for a century.

Now Talacre Beach Leisure Group who own the building and the beachfront property around it, want to erect a stainless steel statue to the ghostly figure. Because the lighthouse is a listed historic building, they have to make an application to the local county council, who appear to be enthusiastic about the idea.

Hey, in these hard economic times, anything that helps bring in tourists can’t be all bad.

Photo of the Day (1-7-09)

Haven’t you had a day that has felt like this? ultraclay, who took this shot in Paris as part of a Honeymoon Set, didn’t specify where this statue is located. Regardless, I’m intrigued by contrast between the soft, airy quality of the sky and the despair illustrated by the figure’s stance. This photo is one example how to provide interest by the angle you choose. In this case, the statue looms and my emotions feel stirred.

If you have a shot that has stirred you, stir us and send it our way to the Gadling Flickr Photo Pool. It might be chosen as Photo of the Day.

Amazing Race 13 recap 10: People in Moscow sure are generous

At the end of last week’s episode of Amazing Race 13, Andrew and Dan were penniless and in last place, but still in the race. Moscow almost did them in. Because it was a non-elimination round, they were granted a second chance. Luckily, with the Amazing Race and reality television, each new day brings a new beginning and more money.

When these frat boys opened their first clue, they found $326 to keep them solvent.

Of all the episodes this season, this particular day in Moscow evoked experiences similar to what it really is like to travel in another country. Most of the tasks involved traveling from one point to another while navigating signage written in the Cyrillic alphabet. For anyone who has tried to navigate another country in a hurry when the written language is unrecognizable, the teams’ experiences may have looked familiar.

Travel Tips:

  1. Check to make sure you have all your belongings with you when you get out of a taxi
  2. When trying to catch a taxi, notice which direction the traffic flow is greater. If need be, cross the street to up your chances of finding one. You can always get a taxi to turn around.
  3. If you loose all your money, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
  4. If possible, use a taxi with a GPS system. It can save time and money.
  5. The metro system in Moscow has a map that looks similar to other metro system maps which makes taking the metro look fairly simple to navigate. Try it if you’re in Moscow. It will be much cheaper than taking a taxi and you’ll be out of the quagmire of Moscow traffic.
  6. Do not let one person carry all the money. Each person should at least carry some of it.

Recap and Cultural Highlights-

This episode was one of buzzing about Moscow in taxis, trains and trolleys to sites that play tribute to Russia’s political, literary and dance traditions.

First stop was to the sonar room of a retired Russian nuclear submarine to find the actor who had a role in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.” So far so good in the lack of mishaps department. No one had trouble here. Then it was off to the Graveyard of Fallen Monuments where one of the team members had to find statues of Lenin and Stalin among statues of other people who were also involved with Russia’s complex past. Once the team member found the number of the statues of each dictator, it was off to an antique book store in order to pick up the next clue.

This is where Toni made two big mistakes.

Mistake 1–For some reason, she let Dallas do this task. Of the two of them, she would have known what the dictators looked like. Dallas was clueless. It was a guessing game for him. Mistake 2- Toni gave him the bag with the passports and money–all the money– while she headed to the spot where they would be meeting back up.

Nick quickly figured out the statue riddle and promptly stole Tina and Ken’s taxi. Their taxi had a GPS system and Nick did not have one qualm about taking it from them. Is this guy going into banking or what?

There were 6 of Lenin and 2 of Stalin (62). At the bookstore, Dallas, still not knowing the number combo, was helped out by Tina. In the meantime, Dan & Andrew were once again behind the pack because their taxi driver took them to the wrong park.

At the book store, once the teams told the owner the correct number “62,”–a numbers guessing game for everyone but Nick, the owner handed them a book by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. On page 62 was the address of the apartment building on Sadovaya Street where there was another clue and their teammate. From the apartment building, the teams were to take a taxi to Sokol’niky Park to find a woman with a Shetland pony.

The apartment building was this episode’s pivotal point. Andrew & Dan were able to catch up after a guy in the park took Dan to the various statues and then led him to the bookstore and the apartment complex.

Dallas, unfortunately, did the very thing that creates the worst traveler’s nightmare. He left his bag in the taxi when he got out. There went the taxi into Moscow traffic with the money and the passport. Horrified, Dallas tried to chase it down, but to no avail. Toni behaved much better than I would have. She took the high road as the two of them decided they would set off to the next destination on the metro.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be the cameraman filming that taxi drive off. Certainly, the people who film the Amazing Race must become attached to the teams they are following all over the world.

For their money woes, Toni and Dallas did find out just how generous people in Moscow are. People helped them over and over again by giving them money for metro fare.

Unfortunately, rules are rules, so when they showed up at the park to find the woman with the Shetland pony, the woman wouldn’t give them the clue because they hadn’t taken a taxi. That meant bumming more money from complete strangers so they could go back to their last location in order to take a taxi. That involved bumming an even larger sum.

In the meantime, Andrew & Dan were off doing their Speed Bump which was learning a Russian dance with a dance troupe. Luckily, they didn’t have to be perfect before they were allowed to proceed. The marching in the last episode was a hopeless endeavor for Andrew, and both of them equally stunk at Russian dancing. Watching them try was a hoot.

As the teams picked up their clue from the woman with the pony, they had to decide if they wanted to Ride the Rails (the metro) or Ride the Lines (the trolley system) to their next destination. On Ride the Rails, the first destination was a snack shop near Ulitsa 1905 where they were to pick up a traditional snack food called a samsa. On the wrapper was the clue to their next destination, a statue of the man who invented the Cyrillic alphabet. This involved a ride to another station where a woman gave them a postcard with the picture of VNDKh Park Station, their next destination, in exchange for the samsa.

The Ride the Lines involved taking a street car to a station where they would find a key maker who would give them a key to unlock a locker at another station. In the locker was a postcard of VNDKh Park Station.

The metro was the most confusing, but quicker. Tina & Ken ended up taking a bus first, but then found out they were on the wrong system. They also made a mistake at VNDKh Park Station because they didn’t look for the clue box that told them where to head to the Pit Stop. Instead, they ran after Andrew & Dan who miraculously came in 2nd.

At the Pit Stop in VNDKh Park, Phil told Tina & Ken to go find the clue. In the meantime, Dallas & Toni valiantly tried to make up time despite their lack of money handicap.

Ken & Tina found the clue box, thus their ticket to the Pit Stop. In a sad, sad scene, Phil found Toni & Dallas to tell them that they had been eliminated.

Who won this round?: Nick and Starr. I have absolutely no interest in these two. I’m wondering when they will be able to take all these vacations they keep winning. With this win, they’re heading to Anguilla if they can find the time to squeeze it in.

Toni & Dallas’s words of travel wisdom: Travel can make bonds stronger. “This had been the best experience of my life,” said Toni through her tears. “Everything I am is because of my mom,” Dallas said.

I’m sure he really feels blessed because she didn’t throttle him for losing that bag.

Next week is the final push as the three teams of Nick & Starr, Ken & Tina and Andrew & Dan race towards the finish line and a million dollars. I’m hoping Ken & Tina win. If they don’t my vote is that they stay married anyway. When they see the footage of this show, I can’t imagine that they won’t see how well they actually get along.

I would have equally pushed for Dan & Andrew, but Andrew said he wouldn’t have lent Toni & Dallas $10 if he had it. Although, if he had, Toni & Dallas would have been ahead of them. He didn’t have the money anyway. Dan had it.

Unfortunately, I bet Nick & Starr will win which makes me think that it’s a dog eat dog world after all.

Infiltrating North Korea Part 9: Worshiping at the Altar of Kim

It’s impossible to visit North Korea as a tourist without being forced to personally pay respects to the Great Leader oneself.

This is always done at the capital’s Mansudae Grand Monument where an enormous bronze statue of the Great Leader towers above the city. According to my copy of Pyongyang Review, the statue was built in 1972 due to the “unanimous desire and aspiration to have the immortal revolutionary exploits of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung remembered for all time and to carry forward and consummate the revolutionary cause of Juche [self-reliance] which he initiated.”

The Grand Monument is one of the holiest places in Pyongyang and our guide appeared a little nervous when we piled out of the minivan. “There are a lot of people here,” he told us. “Please don’t do anything that would embarrass me.” He also asked that we did not take any photographs of the Great Leader which would cut him in half. Only full shots were allowed in order to show the utmost respect.

Before leaving the parking lot, our guide walked us over to a small flower stand where a member of our group was asked to purchase an arrangement. After doing so, we joined a large crowd of North Koreans also bearing flowers, and walked up a slight hill towards the statue and two large monuments which stand on either side of it, one of which commemorates the anti-Japanese struggle while the other chronicles the socialist revolution and includes a large slogan that reads, “Let us drive out U.S. imperialism and reunify the country!”

Because of the mass of people paying their respects, we had to wait a moment before a member of our group was allowed to walk the remaining distance and place the flowers at the base of Kim Il Sung. When he returned, we all stood nervously in a line facing the statue. I wasn’t about to bow, and I assumed that the others in my group wouldn’t as well. Our guide however, had no choice. He bent low to the waist and offered up a very serious bow to the Great Leader. And then, we were free to go.

We hung out for a little while and watched as a never ending flow of North Koreans did the same as we had just done; parading up to the statue, offering flowers, and then bowing deeply to Kim Il Sung. For an atheist nation, I never would have expected such religious devotion.

Yesterday: The Cult of Kim
Tomorrow: The Followers of Kim

Manneken Pis: Brussles’ Pissing Boy

Created in 1619, Manneken Pis is among Brussels’ most famous statues. Literally translated as “Little Man Piss,” the statue — only 2 feet tall — can be found behind a small fence at the corner of rue de l’Etuve and rue Chênet. If you show up on the right day, he may even be wearing one of his 600 costumes — most of which are freaking hilarious! — and all of which can be seen at the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles.

Despite numerous legends about how he got there — to deter enemies; to extinguish a lit fuse — Manneken has led a bizarre and action-packed life, including escaping numerous kidnappings.

If you doubt the value of taking time out of your chocolate-tour to see the diminutive statue, check out the hundreds of positive reviews of the attraction on Virtual Tourist. Despite being small, Manneken Pis sure is a big hit.

If you visit, don’t pass up the chance to get a commemorative corkscrew. Also, be sure to spend a few minutes checking out his sister, Jeanneke Pis.