Unseen Pictures of The Vietnam War From The Other Side

What the western world remembers about the Vietnam War is defined by a handful of iconic photographs taken through the lenses of American and other western photographers. But the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had hundreds of photographers of their own who worked in perilous conditions documenting every facet of the war. They worked for the Vietnam News Agency, the National Liberation Front, the North Vietnamese Army or various newspapers. Others were self-taught civilians, many of whom anonymously sent their films to news agencies. Many of these photographs are rarely seen, even in Vietnam.

When photojournalist Doug Niven first went to Hanoi, he expected to see the war from the Vietnamese perspective, but to his surprise, there was not even a North Vietnamese book on the war. There were a few Vietnamese publications with pictures from the war, but not a single comprehensive attempt to put all the war images together. So in the early 1990s, he started tracking down the surviving photographers.

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The Coconut Palace, Philippines

The official residence and workplace of the Vice President of the Philippines, in Manila, is a curious attraction. The building is called Coconut Palace, or Tahanang Pilipino, because of the extensive use of coconut lumber and various parts of the coconut tree in its construction. The roof is made from coconut wood shingles, while the columns are inverted coconut trunks, with their distinctive bulge at the root end forming the capitals. Coconut wood parquetry covers the floors, carpets are made of coconut fiber and wallpaper from the fibrous sheath. The massive chandelier made from 101 coconut shells is worth seeing, and so is the dining table of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells.

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Photo credit: www.manosa.com

8 Sound Sculptures That Lets Nature Be The Musician

While most sculptures are intended to be viewed, there are some that strive to stimulate our other senses as well. These eight large scale sculptures are installed at various locations around the world, and interact with natural forces like the wind and the rain to create soothing music. Let’s hear them.

Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley

The Singing Ringing Tree in Burnley, in Lancashire, England, is 3-meter tall and comprises of galvanised steel pipes of differing lengths and with holes punctured into the underside. When the wind blows, the sculptures produces an eerie sound in several octaves. Completed in 2006, the Singing Ringing Tree is part of the series of four sculptures within the Panopticons arts and regeneration project created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network (ELEAN).

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Photo credit: Henry Brett/Flickr

Inca Tern: The Bird With A Magnificent Moustache

The Bougainville moustached kingfisher might be the one with word “moustache” in its name but it’s the dark grey plumaged Inca tern of the family Sternidae that sports the most magnificent whiskers.

The Inca tern features a pair of striking Dali-like white handlebar moustache of specialized feathers that grow out from the fleshy yellow gape at the corners of its brilliant red beak. The moustache is not male exclusive, it’s shared by the females as well. Aside from being an unusual ornament and a matter of pride, the length of the bird’s moustache is also a reliable signal of its body condition —the longer the moustache, the healthier the birds. Inca terns with longer moustaches tend to mate together and have more and larger chicks.

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Photo credit: one_green_star/Flickr

A Blast From The Past: Episode 8

A collection of interesting articles that you may have missed, pulled out from Amusing Planet’s past archives.

Legoland Deutschland Theme Park in Germany

The Legoland Deutschland is a Legoland theme park located in the Bavarian town of Günzburg, Germany. It occupies an area of 43.5 hectares in size, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bavaria. Opened to the public on May 17, 2002, Legoland Deutschland is the first of its kind in Germany, and only the fourth in the entire world. The other Legoland parks are located in Billund (Denmark), Windsor (England) and California (USA).

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155-Year-Old Mouse Trap in a Museum Claims Another Victim

The University of Reading's Museum of English Rural Life has caught a mouse in a trap, but not on one laid by the museum staff to catch pests and rodents that frequently enter the museum’s building and cause menace. This rodent managed to get caught in a trap that was 155 years old and stored in the museum so that it could be put on display.

When the museum’s assistant curator discovered the mouse inside the trap when searching for objects to use in an interdisciplinary research session on animals, he was puzzled because the mouse wasn’t supposed to be part of the object. He sent an email to the museum’s staff, which began:

There appears to be a dead mouse in this mousetrap which is not described as being there on the database.

Can you perhaps check whether it should be there and/or decide if having a dead mouse in the trap is the best way forward from a conservation perspective.

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The Bombed-Out St Dunstan in The East Church of London

One of London’s best kept secret is a small derelict church, or what remains of it, half way between London Bridge and the Tower of London, known for its green garden and tranquil atmosphere. This medieval Church of St Dunstan was blown to bits during the bombing of London in the Second World War, leaving only two of its walls and the tower and steeple standing. After lying abandoned for 25 years, the city decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden. Thanks to the creative planting of wall shrubs and climbers, the ruins are now overgrown with ivy and trees, creating a small but enchanting little place in the heart of London, surrounded by steel and concrete.

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Photo credit: Peter Trimming/Flickr

Gomantong Caves: The Caves of Horrors

Deep in the steamy jungles of Borneo, in Malaysia, is a massive crack in the limestone outcrop that leads to an intricate system of caves. Entering the caves is not for the squeamish. In the dank interiors are millions of bats that hang from the roof, while the floor and walls are covered with cockroaches, beetles, rats and other creepy bugs that feast on bat shit and dead swiftlets that fall out of their nests. The caves also house snakes that feed themselves on the rats and cockroaches. The air smells thick with ammonia because of the bird droppings. The guano deposit on the floor is estimated to be 10 feet deep. Wooden walkways through the explore-able section of the caves keep visitors safely above the horrific creatures that litter the ground.

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Photo credit: Col Ford and Natasha de Vere/Flickr

This Ordinary House Has an Outrageous Interior

This ordinary looking middle-class house in Newport, Oregon, with creamy white siding, yellowed brick, and a two-car garage blends perfectly with the neighborhood. But once you step inside, it’s like visiting a Renaissance palace.

The grand red living room has gilded beams on the ceiling and milled oak floors finished with a special Jacobean brown stain. A formal dining room connects to the other side of the dark green foyer, and a dark, wood-clad kitchen sits in the back, hidden from the rest of the home. The doors are thick and hand-carved. Windows are covered with stained-glass purchased from old English churches.

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Pholisma Sonorae: A Strange Looking Flowering Plant

Pholisma sonorae, commonly known as sand food, is one of the most bizarre wildflowers of North America. Growing out of sand dunes, the flower has a fleshy stem that extends two meters below the surface and emerging above as a small rounded or ovate form. If enough sand is blown away, the top of the stem may get exposed and the flower appears somewhat like a mushroom. During early spring, the round head bears small centimeter-wide flowers which are pink to purple in color with white margins.

Pholisma sonorae lacks chlorophyll. To survive it attaches to the roots of various desert shrubs to obtain nutrients. Incredibly, the host plants do not appear to be depleted by Pholisma infestation, and some Pholisma plants weigh more than their host plants.

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Photo credit: plants.usda.gov