The 6 Most Terrifying Places on Earth to Be Stranded
Tell humanity to fly to the moon, and we're like, "Got you covered!" Tell us to take a walk through a clown cemetery, and we're like, "Fuck you; you ask the impossible." It doesn't matter how logical and rational you think you are, chances are there's at least one place in the world where you would never dare venture. And if you haven't found that place in parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the series, perhaps one of these is the nightmare you've been missing all this time.
Kampung Monyet, the Masked Monkey Slum of Jakarta
Come, visit mystical Jakarta, a beautiful and ancient city -- now 90 percent free of doll-faced, plague-monkeys! (Note: This implies a 10 percent doll-faced, plague-monkey population rate.)
Approximately. The census man never returned, for some reason.
That's Kampung Monyet ("Monkey Village"), an infamous shantytown in the eastern part of the capital where people train macaque monkeys to wear children's clothes and doll head masks. Why? To beg for money on the streets, but no one would have blamed you if you'd answered "for the glory of Satan."
"Hold on, I want no part in this shit." - Satan
The performances, called "Topeng Monyet" (Mask Monkey) are actually an old Indonesian tradition that goes back centuries, but it's only in recent years that they started to resemble final bosses from Japanese horror games. Past estimates have put the number of masked macaques in Kampung Monyet at 150, living in complete squalor with their owners and a whole lab-full of transmittable diseases, most notably hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Plus, an unidentified disorder makes kids smile when they should scream.
A few years back, the Indonesian government undertook measures to eradicate monkey shows, because they're obviously wildly inhumane, both to the monkeys and to humanity in general. But they're still around now; they're just underground. So if this sounds like your kind of thing, head on over to Kampung Monyet, and ask the shadiest guy on the street where a guy could go to stare into the face of madness and everything that's worst in humanity. You're either going to a monkey show or the room he rents behind the butcher shop. You deserve it, either way.
But what did Bongo do to deserve this? Nothing. He did nothing.
Tophet, the Ancient Infant Sacrificial Site
The Sanctuary of Tophet, in Tunisia, consists of an enclosed cave altar and a graveyard where over 20,000 buried urns dating back to the fourth century B.C. have been found, most of them containing the burned remains of children no older than 4 years old.
Well, at least they died before Tunisia got too attached to them.
Now, we know what you're thinking, but don't worry: there is very little chance of their angry ghosts rising to attack you. See, a depiction on one of the grave markers showing a priest carrying a child has led some historians to believe that the site was used to sacrifice kids to the Carthaginian deities Baal Hammon and his wife, Tanit. So you see, ancient gods would have long ago consumed the souls of those children, leaving the graveyard perfectly free of poltergeists. (That may be of thin comfort to you, now that we think about it.)
This hypothesis is corroborated by the accounts of ancient Greeks and Romans, who also claimed that the Carthaginians would sacrifice their young by burning them alive. Not everyone believes them, though. Some maintain that it's all ancient libel, and that the Tophet is merely a resting place for children that have died naturally ... and were then cremated ... and number in the tens of thousands.
Dead baby jokes aren't jokes in archaeology.
In the last few years, Tunisia has strongly favored the non-sacrifice theory to help promote tourism to their ancient ... burned child ... graveyard (best of luck with the brochures, guys). But if they were really serious about putting a more positive spin on the Sanctuary, the first step would probably be to rename it to something besides "Tophet," which has come to mean, among other things, "hell."
Lake Natron, the Mummifying Blood Waters of Tanzania
Located near the Tanzanian-Kenyan border, " Lake Natron" takes its name from the type of salt so abundant in its waters. But that's sort of like calling Osama bin Laden "an avid volleyball player." Technically true but completely missing the most horrifying part of the story. In Lake Natron's case, it's skimming over the fact that the waters mummify hundreds of animals every year.
"Lake Jesus Fuck" seems more appropriate.
Placid Lake Natron is lethal to pretty much every life form except for a certain species of extremophile fish (the official fish of the X Games). Anything else that comes into contact with Natron or its vapors for too long dies, due to the lake's insane sodium levels that make it nearly as corrosive as ammonia.
Because of its alkalinity and temperatures that can spike up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the lake also dries out and calcifies the animals' carcasses, eternally preserving them as desiccated flesh statues via the same process used by the Ancient Egyptians to create mummies.
Like Egyptian mummies, they're associated with a curse. Namely, "Jesus Fuck."
If it helps you sleep at night, these animals weren't "flash-mummified." The photographer, Nick Brandt, posed the animals to make them look as if they'd calcified instantaneously, which doesn't actually occur outside of a Doctor Who episode. The real Natron mummification process takes a bit more time, though some might argue that it produces even creepier results, which routinely wash up on the lake shore.
Flamingoes are usually pink, in case you've forgotten.
Also of note: Lake Natron often turns blood-red and "scabs over."
How very Old Testament of it.
This is due to the algae and bacteria inhabiting the lake as well as the salt deposits crusting atop its surface. Though personally, we chalk up the lake's coloration to Mother Nature simply choosing a theme and sticking with it.
The Corpse Tunnels of Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Originally opened in 1910, the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville, Kentucky, quickly found itself overwhelmed with patients during an epidemic of tuberculosis at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1924, the boring, wood-framed, two-story structure was torn down and replaced with the five-story, Gothic behemoth that still stands on the grounds to this day. Because let's face it, even in its prime, the caretakers knew this place was going to be haunted as shit someday -- may as well look the part.
"Waverly Hills Sanatorium: you don't have to be crazy to work here, butDEATH."
The facility was constructed as a self-contained town within a town, complete with its own post office, zip code and farm. Due to the extremely contagious nature of TB, once you checked in, you never checked out again ... literally. Doctors, nurses, staff and patients alike weren't permitted to ever leave the grounds once they set foot inside Waverly. When you left "The Hill," it was inside of a body bag. And a lot of people left The Hill.
The tunnel in the basement was originally intended to ferry supplies to the campus without having to trek all the way up the hill. But when so many people are dying within your walls that it's starting to affect morale, you begin looking for ways to sneak the bodies out without anyone noticing. Necessity being the mother of terror, here's the Body Chute.
Not as sexual as it sounds.
Speaking of guests, the property is now all set to be renovated into a hotel/convention center. This development plan was brought to you by Tophet Realty: Because you can't spell "horror movie" without ... "home."
The Destitute Cemetery City of Guatemala
In Guatemala City, urban congestion and an unusually high rate of death has necessitated a new breed of cemetery. With no room to build outwards, the crypts are built vertically and stacked upon each other. These are the death projects:
With 30 percent more corpses than the regular projects.
Just like any good shantytown, this veritable city of the dead is a cacophony of activity. Relatives of the deceased have made it a habit to dispel gloom by partying, socializing, and engaging in all sorts of activities not normally associated with graveyards. The constant hustle and bustle has even made it profitable for peddlers to set up shop between the rows of napping corpses.
Selling coffin cushions, soda, etc.
Local bands hang about, charging to play sets of traditional, Guatemalan mourning music...
R.E.M. covers, mainly.
While friends and relatives dance in between the stacks of graves ...
These three never really liked Jorge anyway.
Actually, that all sounds kind of nice. So where's the terror here? It's all in the rental agreement. Yep, families of the deceased must pay "rent" to ensure their loved ones remain undisturbed within the crypts. The first six years following the burial are free. But after that, they're charged $24 for every successive four years of internment at the General Cemetery. Those unable to make payments see their relative's graves marked with red paint. The bodies are removed, bagged, and -- if they aren't claimed by their relatives -- unceremoniously dumped, en masse, into large communal graves. It is not a rare occasion. It happens every single morning.
This is the deadly game known as Guatemalan Roulette.
You could turn any random corner in the General Cemetery and stumble across a screaming corpse or 10 in the process of eviction.
"Dibs on the red dress."
And of course, this constant recycling of human material, as well as the fact that the cemetery adjoins the city dump, ensures tasty meals for the countless vultures that treat the cemetery like a fertile scavenging ground. Here they are lining every wall, staring at you, wondering if maybe you're on the menu next.
They want your eyes. Corpse eyes melt so fast.
So dance, you poor son of a bitch. Hurry up and dance to prove you are not yet among the dead ...
The Thousands of Abominations in Museum Vrolik
Like a Disney Land for the mentally disturbed, Amsterdam's Museum Vrolik is probably the world's most varied collection of deformities this side of an Ozark family reunion. Though the study of medical anomalies furthers our understanding of biology, we can only imagine how many tourists ended up scarred for life after peeking in to ask for directions to the tulip museum.
"There weren't enough pot shops to clear this from my memory."
Before the place became a formal institution, most of these specimens were displayed as a private collection owned by Gerardus Vrolik; a respected Dutch anatomist, castle owner, and guy almost certainly voted "most likely to collect jar-babies" in his high school yearbook.
Ah, wacky Gerardus. Always vroliking about.
His son, Willem, was also a celebrated professor, and together their massive assortment of oddities helped further the understanding of biology in the late 18th century. A noble endeavor, to be sure, but one that probably didn't get them invited to many dinner parties. Or at least, not invited back ...
Not once they saw the "housewarming gifts."
The Vroliks taught anatomy at the Athenaeum Illustre, forebear of today's University of Amsterdam. Somehow unafraid of the potential curses of thousands of malformed babies, the city of Amsterdam bought the morbid collection, and they now serve as study subjects for medical students at the university. Luckily, admission to the museum is free. But only because your tenuous grasp on sanity doesn't count as legal tender.
It's all part of Amsterdam's new "Who needs drugs?" campaign.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Aaron Matthew Smith is a writer, cartoonist and designer who desires the approval of strangers more than anything. You can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
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For more terrifying places that exist, check out 5 WTF Abandoned Wastelands You Won't Believe Exist and 7 Modern Ghost Towns That Look Like Sci-Fi Movies.
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