Saturday Surprise — Let’s Explore!

I am doing something today that I will not make a habit of, but this one time, I simply cannot do a Saturday Surprise post, for my brain is … tired.  So, I looked back in the ancient archives and found one from April 2018, when I had about half the readers I have now, and that was my most popular Saturday Surprise of that spring.  Today, I take you on a journey to some unique and interesting places that I think will bring a smile to your face, and maybe even a few chuckles!  So fasten your seat belts and off we go!  First stop … Thailand!

poo park 1Specifically we are going to the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Yes, you read it right, and yes, it means exactly what it says.  It is where they make paper from elephant poop!  According to Atlas Obscura …

“Making paper from elephant poop is a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional tree-based products. By not using trees, it helps reduce deforestation and makes sure the abundance of animal waste isn’t wasted. The paper is entirely sanitary and stink-free.poo park 3The process of transforming elephant poop into everyday paper is actually pretty straightforward. Once workers have scooped the poop and gathered it, they then wash the waste so that only the plant fibers remain. The fibers are then boiled and sanitized, then mixed with other non-wood pulp fibers. Finally, the intriguing mixture is screened and dried, just like typical wood-based paper has been for thousands of years.

poo park 2Visiting the Elephant Poo Poo Park gives people an up-close encounter with the whole process. You’re even invited to get involved, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The park also has information about traditional paper making, which began in China nearly 2,000 years ago. In addition to the tour, people can check out the cafe and “poo-tique” to pick up souvenirs.”

Who knew?  I don’t think I would much enjoy working there, though.

I was planning for us to hop just a few miles north to visit the Chiang Mai Tiger Kingdom, where visitors can actually snuggle with the tigers, but I learned some disturbing news and decided I would pass that one up for today.  And so … on to … Wales!

Now, I have a few great friends who live in Wales, and one of them I know loves his beans, but I had no idea that beans was such a … national treasure?  Here we are, then, in Port Talbott, where we find the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence.  A museum … baked beans … really?  The museum is owned and operated by a bean-obsessed superhero called Captain Beany, formerly known as Barry Kirk.  Now way back when, Barry was working for British Petroleum as a computer geek at one of their chemical plants. Capn Beany bathtubThen, in September 1986, Kirk decided to try for a new world’s record, and life has never been the same since.  What record, you ask?  Sitting in a bathtub filled with beans … for 100 straight hours.  And it was then that he first got his idea for a complete transformation into Captain Beany. Capn Beany tattoo It took some time, but in 1991 he quit his job, legally changed his name, and then he began the physical transformation, painting his head and bald pate orange, and donning a golden cape, pants, gloves and boots.  Since then, he has run marathons, pushed a can of beans along a beach with his nose, bathed in a bath of tomato soup, climbed a mountain, and had 60 baked beans tattooed on his head.

The museum is in the living room of his 2-bedroom apartment and is crammed full of baked bean memorabilia and orange furniture.  Since his apartment is a ‘council flat’, which I believe is similar to subsidized housing in the U.S., he is not allowed to charge admission, but he does accept donations from the 100 or so visitors he gets each year.  And Cap’n Beany is a generous man, donating all proceeds to charities such as Sport Relief, Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation.

And now, I really hope you brought your jackets,  for we are headed someplace quite cold … Norway!

You know what it’s like, traveling on the interstate highway system and after a few hundred miles, you really need to stop for a potty break and perhaps a cup of coffee to help keep your eyes open.  Those rest stops, though … you never know what condition you will find them in.  But this rest area, named Uredd Rest Area, is situated along a section of the Norwegian Scenic Route. It overlooks stunning views of the fjords and the open sea, and is a popular spot for visitors and locals to watch the northern lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer. And, it is quickly gaining fame for being home to what may be the most beautiful public toilet in the world.Norway rest areaAs part of a project to enhance Norway’s scenic highways with innovative architecture, a sleek viewing area with marble benches and amphitheater steps leading down to the water were built along the roadside. And next to them, a striking, wave-shaped public restroom.

Uredd rest areaMade of frosted glass and concrete in a minimalist design, the structure seems to glow in the dark as the glass is lit at night. In the daytime, the facility offers just about the most breathtaking view you could hope to enjoy while taking care of business.  Just look at that scenery … makes you want to sit here forever … except that I’m getting c-c-c-old.

Let’s grab a quick bite to eat … and warm us up … before we head back, shall we?  As I realize that a number of my readers are vegan, I picked a place we could all find something to love.  So let’s head over to Madrid, Spain, for some barquillos.  You guys all like barquillos, right?  What … oh, don’t worry … it’s Spanish for waffles. These particular ones are very thin, rolled into shapes like cones, and ever-so delicious.  Now here in Madrid, we will get our waffles from a street vendor, but there’s a little something you have to do first.  First, you have to play a game of roulette with the vendor!  No, not the Russian sort … just the plain ol’ sort.barquillosThere’s one now!  See that red tin canister?  That’s the roulette game, and the wheel to spin is on the top of the canister.  You can pay once to spin for either one or two barquillos or pay more and spin as many times as you want, racking up waffles until you stop or the ticker lands on one of the four golden markers, at which point you lose everything. barquillos-2You are so going to love these … you can get them dusted with cinnamon or vanilla and covered or stuffed with chocolate and other flavors.  I love them with fresh strawberries, but it’s probably a little too early in the season for those.  Enjoy your barquillo!

Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed our travel today, and I hope you all have a terrific weekend!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa!!!

21 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Let’s Explore!

    • Hi Kiki! Long time no see … I’ve missed you dropping in! I’m glad you enjoyed the journey today, even though you didn’t much like the Bean Man! 😉 Have a great weekend, my friend!


  1. I guess if they can make coffee from tiger poop, using elephant poop for paper is relatively normal behaviour. But that isn’t a phrase I’d ever use about Captain Beany!

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        • Oh … well then, that makes all the difference! Oh drat … just when I was all set to try some, but I cannot afford the world’s most expensive coffee. And nope, I haven’t seen it on Starbucks’ menu either. Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to miss out … 😉

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  2. You definitely made me SMILE! 🙂 Thanks for the fun tour, most excellent Tour Guide! That is a beautiful view in Norway, I agree, But … I am glad to see it from the warmth of my living room and not a cold bathroom! LOL!

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  3. Great, I hadn’t heard of any of these things before. Paper made from elephant poop in particular sounds wonderful. If you could now – just a thought – also turn the talk of some politicians into something so sustainable. Lol Happy Saturday, Jill!

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