6 Places Where Monsters Live
1. The Amazon River. This is the territory of the Encantados, water spirits that reside in long-snout dolphins. They may take the form of handsome men, and when they find attractive women, they either lure them into the depths, never to be seen again, or return them sometime later, bearing a child.
Upon seeing fierce warrior women along the river, a Spanish conquistador named the Amazon after the Greek mythical tribe described in the Iliad as “those who fight like men”. Today, its jungles are lush and teeming with life, receiving about three metres of rain annually. Piranhas, anacondas, and vampire bats also live here, but visitors who prefer close encounters of a milder kind will be pleased with the orchids that bloom everywhere.
2. Congo River Basin. Dinosaurs have long been extinct, except, it seems, in the swamps of Central Africa. The endemic earth-coloured Mokele-Mbembe is similar to the apatosaurus (or brontosaurus) in size, its long neck and tail, and vegetarian diet. Crocodiles, elephants, gazelles, giraffes, and hippos share its habitat, a fact that it’s not too happy about, and it will kill these animals on sight.
The setting of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the Congo River is surrounded by savannahs and rainforests, and interrupted by the “Gates of Hell”, a series of treacherous rapids. Mokele-Mbembe may attack boats every now and then, but bigger threats to explorers might just be malaria-carrying mosquitoes and the cannibal tribes living by the waters.
3. Himalayan Mountains. The Abominable Snowman has been called many names, some translating to “magical creature”, “man-bear”, and “wild man”. Despite the variety of names, its characteristics are consistently described as shyness, immense strength, a thick covering of fur, a man-like stance, and even a fondness for alcohol.
Some of the highest slopes in the world are part of the Himalayan range, and have become popular sites for expeditions. Adventure-seekers have even turned some of these snowy peaks into ski runs. Atop the “Roof of the World” – which actually used to be a sea floor – pilgrims can visit the palaces of the Dalai Lama and a number of Buddhist monasteries.
4. Ingolstadt, Germany. A product of obsessive study and experimentation, Frankenstein's monster came to life only to be rejected by its creator. This fictional eight-foot character was fashioned from a mishmash of body parts stolen from graves.
He probably roamed the streets of this mediaeval fortress, where some ruins of the fortifying walls and towers remain today. The town is especially known for its beer, brewed according to strict beer purity regulations. The Audi Forum is also located here, catering not just to car fans but also to movie buffs, food lovers, and concertgoers. There are also a number of museums housing weaponry and relics from times of war.
5. Loch Ness, Scotland. Sightings of Nessie, a dragon-like water creature, have been reported since 565 A.D., while expeditions to find her have been going on for decades. The so-called “sea serpent” and “monster fish” resides in a lake nominated as one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature”, the winners of which will be decided by Internet-, telephone-, and SMS-voting.
It’s a place plucked out of an Arthurian tale, on the banks of which stands the Urquhart Castle, which endured half a millennium of bloodshed. Within is a collection of pieces which re-tell its bloody history. “The most beautiful glen in Scotland” is also situated along Loch Ness: Glen Affric, which inspired many a Victorian artist to recapture its splendour.
6. Visayas, Philippines. The Manananggal is a winged woman whose top half separates from her lower body. She comes out at night to prey on fetuses in their mothers’ wombs. Locals believe she can be defeated by sprinkling garlic or ash on her entrails to keep the body from bonding together, and will ultimately be killed once sunlight hits her.
Visayas is an island group which boasts of sunny skies, fantastic beaches, and endless festivals. The seafood capital of the country lies here too, the waters brimming with milkfish, tuna, blue marlin, shrimps, and oysters. Many historical buildings are situated here, of which the most notable are the churches dating back to the time of Spanish conquistadors.