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Publication: Travel Tips
Believe It Or Not...

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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

Feb. 5, 2008 

I always wanted to be Robert L. Ripley.

The cartoonist, adventurer and eccentric collector of odd 
stuff behind the "Ripley's 'Believe it or Not!" franchise, 
is arguably the man who first inspired me to travel.

By the time he'd died in 1949, Ripley had visited more than 
200 countries, by his own count.

Believe it or not.

In this week's issue: 




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Ripley was known as the modern Marco Polo during his heyday 
in the 1930. He traveled the globe in search of the unusual, 
and returned with shrunken heads, torture implements, 
stuffed creatures, and models of famous monuments built out 
of pennies or match sticks.

Much of this stuff ended up in some 20-or-so Ripley's 
'Believe it or Not!' museums around the world.

I visited the oldest of these in St. Augustine, Fla., when I 
was a kid, and marveled at the mummified mermaid and the man 
with four eyes. 

This year, I took my 10-year-old son to the Ripley's museum 
in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and he had a similar bug-eyed 
reaction to the mock iron maiden and the petrified cat. 

The chain of Ripley's offerings now includes wax museums, 
theaters, aquariums, mini-golf venues and other family fare. 
There are 64 attractions in all, spread across 11 countries. 

You can check out the entire menu at the official Website: 

But Ripley's doesn't have a monopoly on bizarre museum 
exhibits. The world is filled with strange museums devoted 
to unusual topics. Here’s a list of a few of them: 


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* British Lawnmower Museum
Southport, Lancashire

This museum, which operates under the slogan, "It's Mower 
Interesting" has more than 200 vintage lawnmowers, ranging 
from early horse-drawn models to machines that look a lot 
more like the one I try to avoid on weekends. They even have 
a section on lawnmowers of the rich and famous. 

* Devil's Rope Museum
McLean, Texas

The largest barbed wire museum in the world includes 6,000 
exhibits in 12,000 square feet, including tools, fence posts 
and thousands of bits or sharp, twisted wire. The specimens 
were provided by barbed wire collectors from the United 
States, Australia, and Canada. 

* Sulabh International Museum of Toilets
Mahavir Enclave, Palam Dabri Marg, New Delhi, India.

The premise behind this phenomenal potty collection is that 
the evolution of the toilet is a critical development in the 
history of human hygiene. It’s tough to argue with that.

Exhibits begin with the first primitive toilets circa 2500 
BC, move through basic chamber pots and carry visitors to 
ornately carved stoneware port-a-potties used by medieval 
British royals while away from the manor on hunting trips. 
There’s a French toilet disguised to look like a stack of 
books, a copy of the throne /commode that King Louis XIII 
used to relieve himself while receiving visitors and 
examples of newer composting and microwave toilets. 

* National Museum of Funeral History
Houston, Texas

The museum features a recreated, early 1900s casket factory, 
a 1921, 19-foot-long motorized hearse, and an extensive 
exhibit on Civil War embalming. 

There are also a dozen, hand-carved fantasy coffins designed 
to capture the essence of the life led by the departed. They 
include coffins shaped like an airliner, a lobster, a canoe, 
a Mercedes Benz, a chicken and a Yamaha outboard motor. 
After going through so much trouble to have designer coffins 
made for themselves, I can't help but wonder whatever 
happened to the intended occupants of these imaginative 
corpse boxes. I guess I'll focus on the museum's official 
slogan "Any day above ground, is a good one." 

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* Icelandic Phallogical Museum, Husavik, Iceland

Yes, it is what you think it is: A penis museum.

Visitors to the museum will encounter 38 specimens from 15 
different kinds of whale, a penis taken from a rogue polar 
bear (without his approval, I‘m guessing), and 19 specimens 
belonging to seven different kinds of seal and walrus. The 
crowd pleaser is apparently a nearly six-foot long penis 
from a sperm whale (no jokes or double entendres intended) 

"This gets the most attention, but I have more than 200 
penises," museum owner Sigurdur Hjartarson told a reporter 
for The Sunday Times of London this summer. "They include 
examples from every mammal native to Iceland...except one. 
But an Icelandic gentleman who is 91 has pledged to donate 
his phallus when he dies, so it’s only a question of time." 

* Banana Museum
Hesperia, Calif.

After 33 years of collecting, Ken Bannister has 17,000 
exhibits ranging from a rare, petrified banana (a woman 
left in in a cupboard for two years and it basically 
became mummified) to a sequined "Michael Jackson" banana. 
Bannister boasts that it is the world’s largest museum 
devoted to a single fruit.

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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