The 6 Most Terrifying Morning Commutes In The World
If you live in a city, your first conversation every morning is probably moaning about the traffic. If you don't live in a city, this is probably why you haven't moved there. Well, we've found that one way to take your mind off of your road rage is to remember that things could be much, much worse.
The Chinese Students Who Have To Scale An 800-Meter Cliff
The next time Grandpa grumbles about having to walk uphill to school every day, whip out this pic and show his ass what "uphill" truly looks like:
How about 90 degrees. And we ain't talking about the temperature, you old fart.
What you're seeing above is the single route to get to Atuler, a clifftop village in southwest China. What you're also seeing is children as young as six years old making the nearly half-mile ascent home via treacherous paths and that rickety-ass wooden ladder. It's as scary as it looks; a reporter dispatched to the village reportedly burst into hysterical tears while attempting the climb (admittedly, tears are one of several liquids we'd burst into, were we to try). Meanwhile, the village's schoolchildren regularly and fearlessly pull off this 90-minute reenactment of Cliffhanger, with heavy book bags in place of Stallone's weighty pecs.
If ever there were a case for banishing homework, this is it.
Atuler is home to a mere 72 families, most of whom make their living farming chili peppers. Though by the villagers' own tally, they've "only" tragically lost seven or eight of their number to the murderous, greedy hand of gravity, many more have been horrifically injured by falls, and this combined with recent media attention spurred the Chinese government to make the climb safer. They did so by replacing the homemade (and oft-rotted) wooden ladder with a much sturdier (but equally terrifying) metal one, because no one ever said that safety couldn't be accompanied by shitted pants.
"Metal" is an accurate way to describe this in more ways than one.
And believe it or not, that may not even be the most nightmare-inducing way to tackle the cliffs of China ...
China's "Sky Road" Is Not A Road (But Does Feature An Abundance Of Sky)
Remember the gondola lifts you rode at Disney World as a kid? The ones that later disappeared without a trace because the risk of a horrific Tigger-squishing incident was too great? Well, imagine if you lived in a place so high up and so remote that those were your only connection to the outside world. Now imagine that, rather than droves of corndogged-up youngsters, the only thing they passed over was a solid quarter-mile of regret.
That'll give you about 10 seconds to wish you'd walked instead.
The 200-odd people who live in Yushan in southeast China don't have to imagine. The village -- described by the elder as being "located where normally only eagles would be prepared to make their homes" -- is surrounded by a landscape so steep and so treacherous that running out to, say, grab some Fanta and a lotto ticket once meant spending an entire day navigating perilous footpaths. That's why, back in 1997, the villagers picked up a secondhand cable from a European ski resort, stretched it a full kilometer between two cliff faces, and rigged up their own makeshift cable car in which to ride across. They use it to transport everything from large sacks of rice to the their precious, fragile children.
Yeah, we know. Imagine dropping that cherished rice.
The question you're probably asking yourself right about now -- as the villagers no doubt do for the entirety of their time spent dangling precariously above a canyon -- is "What if it breaks?" Well, the answer is that it doesn't, and that's all thanks to the hard work and incredible trouser cherries of this man:
That's Zhang Xinjian. He's kept the cable car painstakingly maintained (a term which here means "dangling from a rusty platform to oil the cable every day without benefit of anything remotely resembling safety equipment") since the day it opened, mainly because he's the only one left who knows how. Job security can be a wonderful thing.
We mean, not in this case. But it can be.
The American Town Where Airplanes Outnumber Cars
It's 2017, and at this point, we've all decided that the flying cars are simply never coming. It makes sense, though, because flying somewhere in a tiny plane is even more of a pain in the ass than driving. Just ask the residents of Spruce Creek, Florida, where a traffic jam looks something like this:
Spruce Creek is what's known as a fly-in community, meaning the only way for residents to get home is to -- get this -- fly in. The whole place is centered around a runway, where residents land their planes before taxiing them right on down the streets to their houses, most of which come equipped with small hangars where garages should be.
And you thought BMW owners were compensating for something.
As you've probably already deduced from the fact that every-damn-body there owns a damn airplane, Spruce Creek isn't exactly an impoverished town -- the community consists almost entirely of upper-middle-aged white people rich enough to, you know, own their own damn airplanes.
This is perhaps best illustrated by spotlighting one of the town's former residents: none other than Operating Thetan and talking baby movie star John Travolta. We say "former" because his neighbors formed up a pitchfork brigade and forced the man out due to his insistence on landing his Boeing 707 jet airliner on an airstrip designed for small enthusiast planes.
"How about the rest of you get on my level?"
This Massive Bridge In France Should Require A Pilot's License To Drive Across
Millau is a small commune situated firmly among the Pyrenees mountains in southern France. The town is renowned for its high-quality sheepskin gloves, its sought-after Roquefort cheese, and for being one hell of a pain in the ass to drive through.
And not just 'cause of the "other side of the road" thing.
That's why the skyline of this picturesque, quiet bit of French countryside now hosts the Millau Viaduct, a structure straight out of the backdrop of a sci-fi film and a ginormous steel middle finger to God himself.
When this collapses, we'll know we're free.
Looks like a normal bridge, right? Let's zoom in a little and note the tiny, tiny trees below:
A jumper would have a good 11 seconds to reconsider before the splat.
Now here's a pic of some dudes working on one of the piles:
Is that guy on the right holding a selfie stick?
Yeah, each one is about as tall as the Eiffel Tower. Here's one of those under construction:
Romantic couples come here too, but they leave screaming.
Starting to get an idea?
This is how Lando Calrissian got home every day
When engineers were faced with completing the puzzle that was the A75 autoroute (the highway connecting Paris to the Mediterranean), they decided to go all-out and build the biggest goddamned cable-stayed bridge in the world. If you were to stand atop its highest pylon, you'd be looking down into the valley from a height of about 900 feet. The road surface itself is three times higher than the full height of the Brooklyn Bridge.
But don't worry, we're sure none of that will pass through your mind as you race across the bridge with only a guardrail (made of mostly clear plastic) protecting you from plummeting down from skyscraper height. Here's a clip of some dudes getting a nice clear look for you:
They had already driven two cities away by the time their pee hit the ground.
This Open Elevator Can Literally Crush You
Claustrophobia is the fear of small, enclosed spaces (such as an elevator), while agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in a dangerous situation with no means of escape (such as a plummeting elevator). If you suffer from any combination of the two, you may want to duck out before we continue.
For the rest of you, meet your new friend the paternoster. He'll be visiting you tonight as you lie awake in bed.
It's named for the prayer occupants tearfully hiss.
The paternoster is an entirely outdated cousin of the modern elevators which hordes of office workers still use to get to their floors and back every single day. It consists of a series of continually looping two-person, doorless compartments -- step into one side to go up, step into the other side to go down. Though they've been largely superseded by regular elevators of the doored variety, there are still hundreds of them in service throughout Eastern Europe today. That's because they're what a German engineer might describe as "efficient," and a Cenobite might describe as "your reward for solving the puzzle box."
Here, watch as a passenger rides throughout the entire loop, its hungry inner workings fully exposed to probing by unwary fingers:
Nah, you needn't worry about fingers. Not for long, anyway.
If you think we're playing up the danger of these proto-elevators for comedic effect, don't. Construction of new paternosters has been banned in most sensible locales, largely due to incidents such as one in 2015, in which an elderly Danish man tripped and got his head utterly crushed as a group of helpless witnesses looked on in horror. Because the paternoster stops for no man. The paternoster is eternal. The paternoster will break you, and feel nothing.
Indonesian Train Surfers Run The Risk Of Being Brained By Concrete Flails
The average New York City subway ride consists of at least one groping (intentional or otherwise), one missed stop, air that smells like a boiled hot dog fucked a drenched poodle before wiping its ass with a slice of stale pizza, and the gentle caress of no fewer than three unidentified bodily fluids before you finally settle upon the least sticky seat. But hey, at least you found a seat. You could've had to climb onto the roof of the train with a thousand of your closest friends, like some kind of overcrowded dystopia populated by people with Spider-Man delusions.
Where you'd still sit right in an unidentified secretion.
That's life as usual for the residents of Jakarta, Indonesia, where the public transit system is woefully inadequate to accommodate the nearly 400,000 commuters who need to use it at any given time. This results in passengers climbing into and onto every available nook and cranny of the trains ... much to the displeasure of local officials, who've tried everything from hiring bands to play catchy safety songs to straight-up spray-painting illegal riders.
None of it did a bit of good, probably because people still need to get to their jobs, regardless of what petty consequences they're threatened with. But you know what they always say: When all else fails, crush a motherfucker's skull with a ball of concrete.
It's an Indonesian idiom, apparently.
In a last-ditch effort to discourage train surfing, authorities dangled rows of grapefruit-sized concrete balls above train stations and rail crossings, thereby ensuring that only the most insane / most well-armored of train surfers will still attempt an illegal commute. Which they undoubtedly will, because, as one local shopkeeper put it, "We like it up there, it's windy, really nice." When you think about it, it's no different from riding down the highway in a convertible, when you put it that way -- if, as you drove said convertible, the heavens occasionally launched a bowling ball straight at your braincase.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
Get your tickets here:
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