Spot Cool Stuff first visited Koh Panyee on a trip to Thailand a few years after the story of the YouTube video below takes place. “Koh” in Thai means “island.” But Koh Panyee is an island more in name than reality. The place is more accurately be described as a floating village, built around steep karst mounds and upon bits of rock that stick out from the sea. To walk around the inhabited areas of Panyee—the inhabited areas being virtually the only parts of the “island” one can walk around—is like exploring a scene from Waterworld come to life (minus Kevin Costner).
One day you’re in. The next day you’re out.
Heidi Klum’s golden rule of Project Runway fashion is also the reality for the characters that comprise signs. One day you are an L or an R proudly pointing the way towards an attraction along with your fellow letters. The next day you are discarded.
Usually old signs end up in landfills or incinerators. But an especially lucky, and especially artistic, few have their letters go on display in museums. There people look at them not for any direction they can provide but for the works of art that they are.
Here’s a review of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite unusual typography museums:
The monkeys wash themselves, kick back with their arms resting on the hot spring’s rim, and generally carry on like humans would
So, a man and a monkey are in a hot tub . . .
That’s usually the start of some bad joke. Unless you are in the Japanese village of Jigokudani.
It is there, outside of Nagano in the Japanese Alps, where travelers can stay at the Korakukan Inn, a wonderful little Japanese-style hostel. The inn has a rotemburo (outdoor hot springs) that is for guests only. Though, apparently, no one has informed the local primate population of this policy. Stay at the Korakukan, go for an early morning bath in the winter months, and you may well be sharing the tub with a monkey.
Most vacationers flying into Cancun International Airport head directly to the glamorous shopping, high-rise beach resorts, bustling nightlife and trafficked-filled streets found in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. But there’s a nearby destination that include none of that—but so much more.
On Isla Holbox, an island north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the shopping consists of a few shacks peddling jewelry, sandals, beer and the like. The island’s handful of hotels are small and don’t rise much higher than palm trees. The nightlife revolves around quiet beach bars where barefoot patrons are as likely to sit on swings or hammocks as they are on seats. As for the traffic, the island has no cars. However, we’ve been told that on occasion two of the island’s golf cart taxis meet up at an intersection.
Now, now, NOW!
Our captain is yelling while gesturing to us to hurry overboard. Overcome by his sense of urgency, we jump flippers first off our boat into warm Caribbean waters. There’s a second of disorientation. Then the water bubbles created by our fall dissipate and the view out of our snorkel mask clears. And what a view it is: the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish heading directly towards us.
We are swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox, Mexico. Our trip was all arranged using Pay With Points, available through American Express Travel. Our challenge from American Express: to turn 150,000 Membership Rewards Points into a trip for two with WOW factor.
Being underwater, staring directly into the enormous mouth of a whale shark an arm’s length away—that’s a memory-making travel experience with no shortage of WOW.
You may remember the Water Cube as the venue for the swimming events 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The exterior of “The Cube,” with its translucent walls that seemed as though they were made of giant living skin cells, became one of the iconic images of the games.
The Water Cube received a lot of press at the time of the Olympics. But what most reports (including Spot Cool Stuff’s own review) left out was that the building was not designed to permanently host of swimming competitions. From conception, its real intended purpose was to be a water park.
Recently the Water Cube’s original destiny was fulfilled with the opening of the Happy Magic Watercube. (Yes, somehow “water cube” got truncated to one word during the transition). In doing so, the place where Michael Phelps once set world records in swimming is today setting the record as the world’s largest indoor water park.
To monks, the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. To travelers, it represents the victory of architecture over gravity.
Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed five towns on cliff sides—villages where drinking and driving . . . or drinking and walking . . . or simply walking could be especially perilous.
Following up on that, here are five religious buildings—a shrine, temple, church and two monasteries—built at a cliff’s edge. Gazing down the rocky drops from these structures, and out upon the magnificent vistas they offer, and perhaps one can’t help but believe in God.
The Eco-Villa is made from locally sourced materials, is powered by renewable energy and features a private natural swimming pool that uses plants to clean the water.
Spot Cool Stuff has reviewed a pod bed, a pod ski resort and a pod treehouse hotel. But this is our first ever pod restaurant.
And what an amazing location our first pod restaurant is blessed with: on the grounds of the gorgeous “six star” Soneva Kiri beach resort located on Thai island of Ko Kood.