“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Yeti Encounters

In November 2005 me and Mrs J visited Nepal and spent some time trekking through the Himalayas, the home of the Yeti. During our trip we kept a wary eye open for any signs of the Yeti as we trekked through the stunning mountain scenery, but alas the Yeti remained elusive (even though our guide seemed convinced that they did in fact exist). We were not totally disheartened however, as we did have numerous encounters with the use of the Yeti in Nepalese day-to-day life (probably adopted to appeal to tourists such as us). Our encounters are pictured below.

On leaving Kathmandu we flew on “Yeti Airlines”, which took us into the mountain airport of Lukla.

On our travels we also discovered the “Yak & Yeti” Guest House.

And finally while visiting a Buddhist monastery in the mountain village of Pangboche, we were able to view a Yeti "scalp" (after parting with a little coin). The general consensus seems to be that the scalp is not really from a Yeti. Crypto-zoologist Richard Freeman’s take on the scalp can be found over at Andrew May’s Forteana blog.

For those people I know, whose primary love is aviation I have to mention Lukla airstrip. Some people say that Lukla is the most dangerous airstrip in the world, and it is not hard to see why they may think this. The single runway is 1,500 ft long and only 65 ft wide, and it has a 12% gradient, which means on landing you are headed up hill. The airstrip lies at an elevation of 9,100 ft and as such, often experiences bad weather conditions. This situation is not helped by the airstrip not having any landing aids.

As a passenger into Lukla in a small fixed wing aircraft, the most striking features of the airstrip are a steep cliff face at one end of the runway and a sheer drop off at the other end, it would seem that on landing and take-off, Lukla offers no second chances!

Pictures, Nepal (November 2005)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Kilve Smoking Simulacra

On a visit to Kilve beach in Somerset Mrs J spotted the below simulacra. Foliage growing from a disused chimney seems to have naturally developed into the shape of a small cloud of smoke drifting from the top of the chimney. The chimney in question is part of an old and disused oil retort house.

It was discovered in 1916 that the shale beds of Kilve beach and the north Somerset coast were rich in oil and the Shaline Company was formed in 1924 to take advantage of the discovery. This brick-built oil retort house is believed to be the first building to be erected for the conversion of shale to oil. Sadly however, the enterprise never really got off the ground, as the process was found to be too costly to make it profitable. It does seem however, that extracting oil from shale is coming back in to vogue, as easier to access oil reserves begin to dwindle. However, I doubt this oil retort house will ever see real smoke again!

This Simulacra has also featured on Andrew May’s Forteana Blog.

Picture, Somerset (April 2011)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Buried Oddity

A number of months ago me and Mrs J were taking a walk from where we live to a local rural pub. Our walk took us across a harvested corn field, which lies on the south eastern edge of Salisbury Plain (approx. coordinates = 51.21406, -1.64007). Walking across the field I found myself about to put my foot down on to a bizarre buried metallic object (pictured below), but I managed to alter my step just in time to miss it.

Being paranoid, given the look of the object, and given the fact that the field in question is adjacent to the Salisbury Plain training area, my initial though was that this may be an old land mine of some form. As such, I did not fiddle with the object.

However, after some further thought, this seemed like a rather stupid idea, especially given that the field must be regularly harvested and tilled. It is probably just an abandoned piece of agricultural hardware, but to date I have been unable to identify it.

Can anyone out there solve the mystery of the buried oddity? Answers in the comments section please!

P.S. a potentially unrelated fact, the item lies within (at a guess) about 20 to 50 meters of an electricity pylon.

Pictures, Wiltshire (2012).

Sunday, 12 August 2012

London’s Elephant Execution

The below pictures show the Strand Palace Hotel, located on the Strand in London (a short walk from the Farting Lamp). The Strand Palace Hotel occupies the site where the Exeter Exchange once stood. The Exeter Exchange is most well-known for the half century between 1773 and 1829 when the upper floors of the building were used as a menagerie which housed many exotic species of animals.

It was during this period that the Strand bore witness to the execution of an elephant by firing squad! The elephant in question was an Indian elephant known as Chunee. It would seem that towards the end of his life, Chunee (who had previously performed minor tricks for visitors to the Exeter Exchange), became increasingly violent. This increase in violence culminated in him killing one of his keepers whilst being exercised along the Strand in February 1826.

Following the death of the keeper, the decision was made to put Chunee to death, however attempts to feed him poison failed, due to his refusal to eat the poison. As such, it was ultimately decided to execute Chunee via firing squad. Amazingly, 152 musket balls later Chunee still refused to die, so he was finally dispatched by the blade. Probably a sight that the Strand will never see again!

Pictures, London (May 2012).

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Serpent God of “Chicken Pizza”

In September 2011 me & Mrs J were lucky enough to be able to visit the ancient Maya ruins at Chichén Itzá on the Yucatán Peninsula on the day of the Autumn Equinox. The complex of Chichén Itzá (often referred to as “Chicken Pizza” by tour guides and inept tourists) is around a thousand years old and is dominated by the Temple of Kukulkan, which is also known as El Castillo (pictured below).

The deity Kukulkan is depicted by the Maya as a feathered serpent, and pyramidal temple of El Castillo has a staircase on each of its faces which terminate in a pair of stone serpent heads (one of the stone heads is shown below).

On the day of the Autumn Equinox as the sun begins to set, the stepped sides of the pyramid give rise to a series of triangular shadows (projected against the side of the staircase) and as the sun lowers the triangular shadows become more pronounced. The ultimate effect is that the triangular shadows connect with the stone head at the base of the staircase to form a representation of the feathered serpent descending down the side of the pyramid. The below series of pictures show the triangular shadows slowly building to form the body of the serpent.

It is also interesting to note, that the temple is reputed to have 365 steps, (91 on each of the four sides of the temple and the top platform which makes the 365th) and is designed to represent the number of days in a year.

These pictures have also featured on Andrew May’s Forteana Blog.

Pictures, Mexico (September 2011).