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Gap year travels: Some of the strangest things you’ll see

Fried spiders in Skuon, Cambodia (Image source)

When you’re travelling the world for a year, it goes without saying that you’re going to see and do a lot. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge and experiences as you traverse through the world’s beautiful and strange offerings – here are some of the best examples of the latter.

The surprising dishes in the local cuisine

As you visit different locations across the globe, there’s no doubt you’ll be more than eager to taste what each location has to offer. Some dishes, however, might prove to be a challenge. There are a few delicacies specific to certain locations renowned for their peculiarity – did you know, for example, one of Cambodia’s most prized foods is fried tarantulas? The spiders are served on a skewer, with the abdomen supposedly being the tastiest part.

And then there’s the casu marzu of Sardinia – translated to “rotten cheese” – that gets its name from the maggots that digest and break it down into its signature soft texture. According to 1Cover, the delicacy is so controversial that questions remain over its legality, but you can still find it on the island if you look hard enough. Would you dare to?

Unusual cultural traditions to involve yourself in

Across the world, you’ll find there’s a multitude of cultural norms you won’t have heard of before. In Thailand, for example, the national anthem plays on all TV and radio stations at 8am and 6pm every day – as well as outside in certain areas – and citizens are required to stop what they are doing and stand still to pay respect to the nation.

Elsewhere in Asia, the people of Japan are expected to greet each other through bowing. It’s no simple bow, though, as there are plenty of different things to take into account, especially considering what circumstances you are bowing in and who you’re directing it towards. And perhaps one of the strangest ones of all is the Chinese tradition of a newlywed husband carrying his wife over hot coals before entering their house as a married couple.

Extreme weather conditions across the world

You may think it’s strange when the sun appears after a bout of torrential rain at home, but that’s nothing compared to the weather that you’ll observe whilst travelling. Take, for example, the lluvia de peces of Honduras, an annual phenomenon that sees thousands of fish rain from the skies. Seriously.

Then there are the renowned storms of Catatumbo in Venezuela, where the skies are illuminated with strikes of lightning that are extremely frequent and bright. Mysterious Universe claims that these storms happen for up to 300 days of the year – every year – and they’re unmissable. And, of course, the renowned Aurora Borealis – more commonly known as the Northern Lights – are visible when you travel near the Earth’s poles.

Weird tourist attractions – both manmade and natural

There’s no surprise in saying the world possesses some beautifully peculiar attractions wherever you go. There are some internationally famed spots – the catacombs that run for miles underneath the bustle of Paris, for example – but plenty of undiscovered locations await. Consider the Great Blue Hole of Belize, a diving hotspot that extends down hundreds of feet with its clear waters boasting some beautiful sea life.

Mexico has perhaps one of the creepiest tourist attractions for you to explore if you’re brave enough. The Island of the Dolls lies south of Mexico City, a manmade island with thousands of dilapidated dolls hanging from trees. It’s said that the dolls are there as a sign of respect for a girl who passed away in the surrounding waters in the 1950s, with the abundant collection now open as a tourist attraction. Somebody does actually live on the island to maintain it and has said that the dolls come alive at night.

What are the strangest things you’ve seen while travelling? Share your stories with us.

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