You Can Visit This Abandoned, Ivy-Covered Town in China for Just 50 Cents

Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images
Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

Houtouwan, a once-thriving Chinese fishing village located about 40 miles southeast of Shanghai, is now empty and eerily overgrown with ivy. Well, not entirely empty—the abandoned town has become a popular tourist destination since it was "rediscovered" by travelers in 2015, as Travel+Leisure reports.

Located on Shengshan, one of 394 islands that make up the Shengsi archipelago, the town was home to 2000 people in the '90s. However, when villagers could no longer compete with commercial fishing operations in Shanghai, they picked up and moved to the mainland in search of better opportunities. Some left all of their furniture and belongings behind, which can still be seen if you peer inside some of the abandoned homes.

Only a few people still live in the village, including tour guides ready to cater to curious tourists who find themselves captivated by the half-ruined buildings blanketed in plants and vines. "It feels like this place belonged to nature from the very beginning, and the old invaders finally left, and nature finally made it back," Huang Dan, a recent visitor to the town, told the Associated Press.

Houtouwan village
Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

Last year, a tourist entry fee of 50 yen (about 50 cents) was enacted in the town. The destination is popular among hikers and has a dirt path that winds through the village and up the hill. (Emphasis on "uphill": It's a two-hour hike, so be sure to bring good walking shoes.)

According to National Geographic, the journey from mainland China to the town of Houtouwan takes about five hours by bus and ferry, and it's easy to get lost. (A videographer and photographer spent 36 hours trying to get there because they couldn't find the right ferries or connections.) Per the magazine's directions:

From Shanghai, you can go to the Nanpu Bridge Bus Station and take a bus and ferry ride to Shengshan Island or to Gouqi Island, which is connected to Shengshan via bridge. That commute alone takes about four hours. From there, you can take a taxi to Houtouwan and hike through the village and the surrounding area. When you see a big temple, you're getting close.

As for whether any ghosts inhabit this ghost town, there isn't much to fear. One longtime resident told the AP, "I've lived in this world for such a long time, and have never met one."

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

Why Jerk Drivers Who Merge at the Last Minute Are Actually More Efficient

iStock
iStock

Merging on the highway can be a fraught task. Most people do it the polite way: merging over into the lane as soon as possible, forming a polite line of people waiting to get off the highway or move out of a closed lane. But there’s always that one jerk who speeds ahead of the line of slowed traffic, merging into the lane at the last second possible and cutting ahead of the entire line of cautious drivers who merged a mile back. While we may resent those drivers, according to HowStuffWorks, this aggressive style of merging is actually the most efficient way to keep traffic moving.

The last-minute system, dubbed the “zipper merge,” suggests that all drivers wait until they’re almost at the fork in the road or start of the closed lane to merge over. Instead of creating a long line of cars at a standstill in the right lane, waiting until the last second maximizes road capacity, since cars are moving in both lanes. It also makes the road safer. Don’t believe it? Watch the principle at work in the animation below.

Traffic studies prove that the zipper merge is the most efficient way to keep a road moving. Instead of one lane of traffic whizzing by while the other lane slows down considerably, both lanes slow down slightly, and overall, the slowdown is more equitable across both lanes. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, it can reduce the length of backed up traffic by up to 40 percent.

But that assumes that every driver adopts the zipper merge. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to convince a whole society of drivers to suddenly change their behavior. Even if zipper mergers are technically correct, when the whole rest of the highway is operating under the belief that merging as soon as possible is the correct and polite way to go about dealing with a lane closure, that one guy merging at the last moment just looks like a jerk. The system only works if everyone plays by the same rules.

Some transportation departments have tried to encourage drivers to adopt the practice, putting up signs near road closures that ask people to “merge here,” nudging them to wait just a little longer before they get over.

Merging late may go against our very nature, however. Many people tend to “pre-crastinate,” according to one 2014 psychological study, trying to get a task out of the way as soon as possible even when doing so goes against our best interests. Penn State researchers found that when asked to complete the basic task of carrying buckets from one end of an alley to the other, people were willing to do more work rather than delay completing a basic task until the last second. Many participants opted to pick up a bucket closer to them, even when it meant they would have to carry the bucket farther, rather than waiting to pick up a bucket closer to their end goal.

So, it may be no surprise that the zipper merge hasn’t caught on, at least in the U.S. But at least now you can feel justified being that one last-minute merger.

[h/t HowStuffWorks]

Orson Welles's Former Hollywood Hills Estate Is Taking Vacation Reservations

Fred Mott, Getty Images
Fred Mott, Getty Images

Orson Welles's former Hollywood Hills estate is a perfect place to get away from society, grow a bushy beard, and brood over a bottle of whiskey.

Interested? The late Hollywood icon's 3000-square-foot home is available to rent for about $755 a night through HomeAway. The house, which sits on its own private 15,000-square-foot knoll, was home to Welles at the very beginning of his career and is where he wrote the screenplay for 1941's Citizen Kane. Bring along your typewriter and try to channel some of his greatness.

Quite a few other celebrities have inhabited the house as well, including Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and David Bowie. Features of the grand four-bedroom mansion—built in 1928—include a lagoon pool, Jacuzzi, deck, and both canyon and city views.

There's never been a better time to rent Welles's abode: his final film, The Other Side of the Wind, is set to premiere at this month's Venice Film Festival before arriving on Netflix. The unfinished flick, which was shot intermittently between 1970 and 1976, has been completed and restored for its much-anticipated release. (Of course the mansion has plenty of TVs for your viewing pleasure.)

The property has a three- to five-night stay minimum, depending on the season. For more pictures, see below or head to HomeAway. And since you're already in vacation-planning mode, another creative celebrity abode to consider is F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's Montgomery, Alabama home, which is available to rent via Airbnb.

Orson Welles' house
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles mansion
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

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