There are a lot of unbelievable locations in the world where everything seems to be alien to us: the people, their customs, and general peculiar features. It almost seems that the locals are united by one common secret. And it’s so interesting to lift the veil of secrecy and to find out more.
Life Hacks invites you to take a non-stop trip around the world’s most amazing places.
1. The Kingdom of the Little People, China
Social life might be tough for the handicapped. However, there’s a magical kingdom for them near Kunming. This is a unique world created by Chen Mingjing. He offered people with dwarfism to move here from all over the country. Today, the population of this place is about 125 people from 19 to 48 years old.
They wear festive clothing of gnomes, angels, elves, princesses, and guards. They have houses shaped like trees and mushrooms. Most of them live in the dormitories that have specially-made bathroom facilities and furniture. Life is comfortable here and no one laughs at them behind their back.
Everyone’s got a job here. They give performances and guided walks for tourists. They do the domestic chores on Sundays, they play poker and volleyball, and they attend free English classes.
Despite the difference of opinions among people about this village, the residents are happy with it. They live in their own cozy world where they have houses and jobs. Also, the infrastructure includes a school, a hospital, supermarkets, cafes, and a flower shop.
2. The Pirahã people — the Happiest Tribe
A tribe of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil is called the happiest tribe. They can’t count and they know only 2 numbers — “some” and “many” and 2 colors — “dark” and “light.” They know neither dates nor calendars; they eat 1-2 times a day. They sleep from time-to-time for 20 minutes, as they believe that sleeping for a long time deprives them of powers.
The Pirahã know only 3 degrees of a relationship: a baby, a parent, and a sibling. There’s no hierarchy and there’s no theft or crime.
They don’t have any property or prejudices. They weren’t convinced by the sermons of Daniel Everett. On the contrary, he accepted their worldview, and their language that has only 3 vowels and 7 consonants, changed his linguistic beliefs.
The Pirahã people are happy, they sing during the night and believe that both dreams and reality are equally important. Once in 7 years, they change their names. They can remember the names and characteristics of thousands of plants and animals. Their kids play with trees, flowers, dogs, and the spirits of the forest, instead of regular toys.
3. Ikaria — the Island of Centenarians
Every third resident of Ikaria lives up to 90 years old. Most of the population lives up to 100 years old. The secret lies in the paradise of the nature of the island in the Aegean Sea, 8 healing springs, and a small number of tourists. However, no one is lonely here, since 10,000 friendly optimists live here.
Only a few people here know about Alzheimer’s disease and age-related discomforts. Stamatis Moraitis (see photo above) came here from the US to live his last days — doctors said he had only 9 months left. Greek by origin, Moraitis moved to the homeland with his family in 1976 and has lived a happy life for almost 37 years.
There’s no rush in Ikaria, people work as best as they can, hike the mountain trails, and eat fruits from their own orchards. People here love olive oil, fermented sourdough bread, goat milk, and herbal tea. In the evenings, they spend time with neighbors over a jug of wine. When a 101-year-old birthday girl was asked about their secret, she jokingly replied, “We just forget to die here!”
4. Cândido Godói — the Land of Twins
Cândido Godói in Brazil is famous for the high number of twins born there. Here, 80 families raise 44 pairs of twins. Most families moved here from Germany during World War I. In the early ’90s, the unusual phenomenon attracted the attention of journalists. The local authorities loved the world’s interest and called the place the Land of Twins, opened a museum exhibition, and installed a fertility statue.
Scientists had different theories to explain this phenomenon, including the influence of special water, the region’s isolation, and also the genetic experiments of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. The locals say that he traveled around the region disguised as a vet. At that exact time, the first twin boom was registered. For the record, the local teachers have a hard time separating twin students during their lessons.
5. The vaDoma Tribe — the Ostrich People
People of this tribe have a genetic abnormality of their feet called ectrodactyly. Due to the absence of 3 middle toes, the people were nicknamed the “ostrich-footed” tribe. Scientists believe that the reason behind this abnormality could hide in the old laws that forbid marriages outside the tribe.
One father, who has 2 children with 5 toes and 3 children with 2 toes, recalls, “As a child, I didn’t think of myself as of something unusual. Mother and other people also had 2 toes. I didn’t feel any discomfort: I was active and took long walks to Francistown.”
6. The Amish
The Amish people are the pacifist Protestants. The founder of the group, Jakob Ammann, spoke in favor of the limitations on contact with the outer world. However, Louis XIV started the persecution of non-Catholics and the Amish had to move to the New World.
Today, there are a lot of such settlements in the US (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states) and Canada (Ontario). They don’t use guns, don’t pay taxes, and don’t accept any help from the government. Their main activities include farming and handicrafts.
The Old Amish follow all the traditional rules: don’t drive cars, use a plow on land, no electricity, phones, or computers. They use a box filled with ice instead of a fridge. The New Amish prefer to use phones and combine harvesters.
Their families have at least 5 children. All women wear bonnets, they are forbidden to dye or cut their hair, and they can’t wear jewelry. Men can’t shave off their beard after marriage.
Children don’t get an education past the 8th grade and by the age of 15, the period of rumspringa begins when teenagers can break the rules and leave their communities. They try to drink alcohol, smoke, and buy modern clothes. After that period, 90% of young people decide to continue their life in the community and choose baptism.
Today many people are taking a strong interest in the Amish community. There are even reality shows about Amish teenagers who go to New York to experience life in the city. Americans who are tired of fast food started going to the Amish markets where they can buy fresh vegetables and fruits, jam, pastries, and other goods.
7. Art Colony, Arden, Delaware
In 1900, 2 friends — sculptor Frank Stephens and architect Will Price — leased land in Delaware and founded an art village. This is where people could have a carefree country life, independent labor, and just one land tax.
Freedom-loving artists, musicians, and writers liked the concept. People developed the art-colony by selling their crafts. Arden’s citizens consider themselves the followers of Georgism: every person solely owns his creations but nature’s gifts belong to all people.
The village has become a place of happiness. Tourists arrive here to attend market fairs and festivals, buy original products of the locals, and admire houses designed in the style of medieval England.
8. Hogewey — The Truman Show for the elderly
There are houses, supermarkets, cafes, and a fountain in this cozy village. However, the only residents are patients with dementia from the humane hospital. Scholars estimate that almost 65 million people might be diagnosed with it by the year 2030.
The Hogewey residents suffer from neither their disease nor loneliness. Every apartment ward houses 5-6 people that are taken care of by the staff who are disguised as sellers, hairdressers, and other workers.
Everything’s organized in such way so that people won’t have to leave the village. There are no doctors wearing white coats. “Our main goal is to let the elderly people live a normal life.”
Apart from walking and shopping, residents can ride bicycles and participate in hobbies like music, painting, gardening, and cooking. They can also engage in occupational therapy: help with the laundry, cooking, or taking care of someone.
The wards are designed according to the style of the period when the patients’ short-term memory stopped functioning — in the fashion of the ’70s or the ’90s. Thanks to the mobile kitchens used to heat up their food, it looks like it was cooked right in their homes.
But even this great project was criticized. However, those who think primarily about the people realize that all of the residents love their “village.” Their appetite gets better, they become more talkative, and they take less medication.
9. Finca Bellavista — the Treehouse Paradise
The story of the treehouse community in Costa Rica is quite interesting. One day, newlywed Matthew and Erica Hogan bought 600 acres of land in a jungle that was at a risk of being cut down. They started building a treehouse and were later joined by like-minded people.
10 years later, an eco-village appeared on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. People here use solar batteries, carbon-free electricity, they collect rainwater, grow fruits and vegetables, and bioprocess the waste. All new residents are provided with guidance on resources and the structure of the routes.
According to Erica, each house is unique, like a snowflake, with a magical view from its windows. Instead of public transport, they use tightropes. Many house owners provide apartments for rent. Tourists can rent a cozy room or a comfortable apartment. There’s also a dining-room and access to Wi-Fi.
Also, people on trees attract a lof of attention among representatives of the local fauna. “The more noise people make, the more birds and animals gather here.”
Matthew and Erica say, “We followed our hearts, not the investors, when we created this place. Our ‘primitive’ idea inspired other people.”