Humans can be funny. We can be scared to death of seemingly little things like walking through a cemetery while gladly taking on daunting tasks like going to the moon. Everyone has that one place that if anyone says, “let’s go here,” you will want to run away. But there are some real places that even the biggest daredevil would never want to find him or herself lost. Here are some of the most intense examples.
Jakarta is a beautiful and mystical ancient city. A drawback is that it contains doll-faced, plague-monkeys.
Kampung Monyet (“Monkey Village”) is 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? It is to beg for money on the streets.
The “Topeng Monyet” (Mask Monkey) performances are a centuries-old Indonesian tradition. In recent years, they started to resemble final bosses from Japanese horror games. It is estimated that 150 masked macaques live in Kampung Monyet. The conditions are deplorable, and diseases like hepatitis and tuberculosis are common.
The Indonesian government did attempt to eradicate monkey shows – they’re wildly inhumane to the monkeys and to humanity in general. However, they still go on. They simply moved underground.
Tunisia features a cave with an altar and graveyard that have been there since around 400 B.C. The graveyard contains over 20,000 urns, which contain the burned remains of children less than four years old. It is known as the Sanctuary of Tophet.
There is a depiction on one of the grave markers showing a priest carrying a child. This has led some historians to believe that the site was used to sacrifice kids to the Carthaginian deities Baal Hammon and his wife, Tanit. If the ancient gods long ago consumed the souls of those children, the graveyard should be free of poltergeists. So there’s that.
Ancient Greeks and Romans also believed this theory, as they claimed that the Carthaginians would sacrifice their young by burning them alive. There are some skeptics who maintain that it’s all ancient libel and that the Tophet is merely a resting place for children that have died. The fact that they were all cremated and number in the tens of thousands is merely a coincidence.
Tunisia has embraced the non-sacrifice theory to help promote tourism to its ancient burned child graveyard. But if they were really serious about putting a more positive spin on the Sanctuary, they might consider a new name. That’s because “Tophet” has come to mean, among other things, “hell.”
Tanzania’s Lake Natron
“Lake Natron” is located near the Tanzania-Kenya border. It takes its name from the type of salt so abundant in its waters. But that’s sort of like calling a terrorist “an avid golfer.” It’s technically true but is completely missing the most horrifying part of the story. The animals unfortunate enough to get trapped there become something straight out of ancient Egypt.
Placid Lake Natron is home to a certain species of extremophile fish. Anything else that comes into contact with Natron or its vapors for too long dies due to the lake’s insane sodium levels. These levels make it nearly as corrosive as ammonia.
Because of this, along with temperatures that can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the lake also dries out and calcifies the animals’ carcasses. This is the same process used by the Ancient Egyptians to create mummies.
Photographer Nick Brandt posed the animals to make them look as if they’d calcified instantaneously, which doesn’t actually happen in real life. The real Natron mummification process takes time, though some might argue that the corpses, which routinely wash up on the lakeshore, are far more disturbing.
The lake also often turns blood-red and “scabs over,” thanks to the algae and bacteria inhabiting the lake as well as the salt deposits crusting on the surface. To us, the color is just Mother Nature applying a theme.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville, Kentucky opened in 1910. A tuberculosis epidemic at the beginning of the 20th century quickly overwhelmed the facility. 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 today. Since it was destined to become a haunted house, it might as well make it a structure that looks haunted.
It was designed to be its own municipality, complete with farm, ZIP code, and Post Office. Because tuberculosis is so very contagious, once you checked in, you never checked out – literally. Once you set foot inside Waverly, you were never permitted to ever leave the grounds again. That included doctors, nurses, staff, and patients alike. The only way to leave “The Hill” was inside of a body bag. And a lot of people left The Hill.
A tunnel was constructed in the basement 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. The tunnel was the ideal place. Soon it became known as the Body Chute.
Plans are underway to renovate the property into a hotel/convention center. Who came up with this idea, Tophet Realty? Visit the Waverly Hills Hotel and Convention Center, where you can’t spell “horror movie” without “home.”