An English Town in China

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You’re not far from Shanghai, yet the spire of the Victorian revival church in front of you casts its shadow across a medieval town square. A row of Tudor homes are just around the corner from a string of pubs and shops. But you notice everything is closed. The only people you see are the occasional wedding party taking photographs. A sign at the entrance reads:

Welcome to Thames Town. Taste authentic British style small town. Enjoy sunlight, enjoy nature. Enjoy your life and holiday. Dream of Britain. Live in Thames Town.

It’s not quite right, much like the rest of the town.

The borough known as Thames Town was part of a 2001 initiative to move millions from Shanghai’s city center into nine international suburbs. The concept had noble intentions, but things did not go as planned.

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Vacation in Valdanos, Montenegro

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Come to the beautiful crescent-shaped beaches of Valdanos, nestled in a cove on the southeastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. Wake up to a beautiful Montenegrin sunrise peeking over thousand year-old olive tree groves. Play fútbol on the grass fields or try a round of mini-golf. Tennis courts are a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Afterward grab a quick lunch at the waterside café, or take a dip in the pool!

The resort has laundry, post office, and a supermarket for your basic needs. Every villa has sweeping views of the sea. For those who prefer to caravan, a full-service campground is also on the premises. Valdanos offers 240 sunny days a year, but for the restless at night the discotheque should whet the appetite.

There is one problem… It has been closed for years. Read more…

Sigiriya: The Lion Rock of Sri Lanka

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Deep in the middle of Sri Lanka, a massive column of rock juts out from the green tropical forest. It reaches 660 feet tall and features frescoes, graffiti, and landscaped gardens. The rock is known as Sigiriya (see-gee-REE-yah) and holds a special place in the island’s cultural history.

It was established as the stronghold of a rogue king over 1,500 years ago, and today the Sigiriya complex stands as one of the earliest preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Ultimately the rock was unable to save its king, but it succeeded in preserving ancient Sinhalese culture.

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There Was Nothing in the World Like Action Park

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Action Park was one of the first water parks in the United States, and by the time it closed in 1996 it was the most dangerous. The park was a pioneer, not afraid to experiment with attractions in the quest for fun. Aggressive ad campaigns brought a million visitors per year and turned the northern New Jersey water park into a household name.

But a lax attitude toward safety eventually caught up with the owners. After 18 years of operation, a series of lawsuits stemming from injuries and deaths forced the park to close. This is a look-back at the classic water park and the wild attractions which made it famous.

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Abandoned Kaua’i Jewel: The Coco Palms

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On the east coast of Hawaii’s oldest island, an abandoned hotel is slowly being reclaimed by nature. It was a landmark for 40 years, a success story immortalized in classic American movie culture. The Coco Palms Resort was the result of hard work by the Guslanders, a couple who offered an enjoyable Hawaiian experience on beautiful grounds featuring a coconut grove and lagoon.

The resort enjoyed worldwide fame when it was featured in several mid-century films, most notably the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii. It thrived for decades as a popular hotspot among royalty and stars, but when Hurricane Iniki struck Kauaʻi in 1992 the hotel was critically damaged.

Twenty-plus years later, most businesses and residents in Kauaʻi have moved on. But at the Coco Palms, it’s still 1992: A perfect storm of obstacles has kept the dilapidated structure in a seemingly-inescapable purgatory.

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The Forgotten Castle on the Hudson

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On a lonely island fifty miles north of New York City, the bricks of a once-proud castle slowly return to the earth. The crumbling fortress is one of several remaining structures on tiny Pollepel Island, an abandoned six-and-a-half acre crag hugging the east bank of the Hudson River.

The 100 year-old Bannerman’s Castle was originally built as an arsenal, and has been abandoned for the last forty five years since a fire ravaged the island in the summer of 1969. It was the creation of a nineteenth-century businessman and served as an advertisement for the era’s largest military surplus empire.

When the castle’s namesake passed away, the island was forgotten. It’s brief resurrection was cut short by a fatal fire. For half a century the building has been losing battles against nature. Absent intervention in the very near future, it may lose the war.

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