Gunmen stormed a Himalayan base camp in northern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 11 people, among them nine foreign climbers. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The tourists were of Ukrainian, Russian and Chinese origin, according to Reuters. They were attacked at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world. The mountain is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan, an area where the Himalayas, the Hindu-Kush and the Karakoram mountain ranges collide in spectacular fashion. The area has heretofore been one of the more secure regions for tourists in the violence-plagued country.
Officials say that the attackers wore police uniforms and kidnapped two guides to lead them to the base camp, which is inaccessible by road. They then opened fire on the camp, killing the climbers and guides. One Chinese climber is alleged to have survived.
Dozens of other climbers were evacuated from the mountain by helicopter following the assault. The mountain is a popular challenge for experienced mountaineers from around the world. Nanga Parbat is known as the "Killer Mountain" for its notoriously lethal difficulty level.
Workers installing a new subway line in Guangzhou, China's third largest city, destroyed an ancient group of protected tombs by mistake during construction on the weekend. Some of the five tombs date back to the Shang Dynasty around 3,000 years ago.
The area, which had been set aside for further excavation and study, was intact on Friday night. When archaeologists returned to work on Saturday, the tombs had been obliterated.
The South China Morning Post reports that the group of tombs had been clearly marked and sealed off, and were of significant historical value. One of the metro project managers admitted that his workers had destroyed the group of tombs, but claimed the accidental destruction was due to a misunderstanding.
Representatives from the Guangzhou Archaeology Research Center contend it was impossible the construction workers could have missed the signs and plastic coverings marking the protected area.
This isn't the first time ancient sites have been bulldozed in Guangzhou in recent times. Around 10 tombs have been destroyed during the construction of a new metro line. Numerous other historical buildings have been razed as well, usually without permission from authorities, as the city undergoes hurried expansion and development.
In part because of Guangzhou's rapid development, more and more ancient sites have been discovered in recent years during surveying and excavation of new construction projects.
During the day, Marrakesh's famous Djemaa El Fna square is filled with monkey trainers, snake charmers and stands selling the most delicious orange juice you've ever tried. At night, it hosts the best Berber storytellers in Morocco, magicians and countless steaming food stalls.
Flickr user Sylvia Wrigley took this emblematic photo of the historic market place. It captures restaurateurs selling "delicacies from a sheep's head" and "cake" to locals and "couscous and skewered lamb" to tourists. You can practically smell the grilling through your screen.
A 1,200-year-old city has been uncovered by archaeologists in a thick, mountainous jungle in Cambodia, Australia's Fairfax Media has reported. An international team of researchers using helicopter-mounted laser-imaging technology discovered dozens of temples connected by networks of roads, canals and dykes some 25 miles north of the famous Angkor Wat complex.
The city, Mahendraparvarta, predates Angkor Wat by 350 years. Archaeologists have been studying the area for some time, but only realized the extent of the city after mapping the area using lidar technology. Lidar is similar to radar, but uses laser pulses in lieu of sound waves to map terrain.
The researchers had to trek through dangerous landmine-ridden jungle to get to the city. Much of the medieval infrastructure is invisible behind a shroud of dense foliage. Promisingly, due to the difficulty of access, it appears some of the temples may have avoided being looted.
With further study, the team hopes to discover why the city was abandoned. According to Damian Evans, a co-leader of the expedition, deforestation and overpopulation may have resulted in the exodus.
Today, the Nicaraguan National Assembly is expected to rubber-stamp a $40 billion proposal by a Chinese consortium to build a canal across the country. The new canal will be over 150 miles long, dwarfing the famous Panama Canal.
The idea of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Nicaragua has been around since colonial times, and up until 1970, the United States held rights to build it. However, the current proposal will see a newly formed Hong Kong-registered company, HKDN, build the waterway.
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. The construction of the new canal will see the country's GDP double and employment triple in only five years, according to The Guardian.
Of the more than half-dozen proposed routes for the canal, at least five will run through the freshwater Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. Any land-only route would have to make a considerable detour to get around the lake.
Though the proposal has met with little resistance in parliament because of the large ruling party majority, no studies on the environmental or social impact of the project have been completed as yet.
Vientiane may be the quietest national capital in the world. The common aphorism that Lao PDR stands for "Lao, Please Don't Rush" is particularly appropriate given the laid-back nature of Laos' capital. The Mekong river maunders next to the city and seems to vacuum out the impetus and pressure of daily life here.
But quiet though it may be, it is suffering from a growing traffic problem as more people purchase cars. Of course, compared to any other major Asian capital, its traffic jams are laughable. The above photo from Flickr user rkzerok shows central Vientiane around rush hour.
However, Vientiane was never meant to handle much traffic at all. Its tiny roads can seem pretty packed despite only boasting as many cars as a Wal-Mart parking lot. And in response, the Lao government has even implemented laws to ease the congestion.
Rob Whitworth's time-lapses are always a cut above. His unique tracking and morphing shots draw you into a city's routine and accurately sketch its character. His panning and zooming give the sensation of flying around a city and dropping in on its denizens for a look around at ground level before taking to the air again.
He's applied his time-lapse talent to other Asian cities before, notably Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Hoi An, Vietnam, but this is his first video from China. Shanghai makes for a particularly apropos canvas. Its rapid development in the past few decades has draped a curtain of skyscrapers and high-rise apartment towers on a frame of traditional longtang alleys and lanes.
A cursory look at Shanghai would show the snarled motorways and brightly lit commercial towers of Pudong. However, Whitworth takes care to contrast the city's frenetic development with its more human character: a flower vendor navigating traffic, her cart piled high with bouquets and potted plants; Shanghainese preparing and munching on the city's famous dumplings; and even a brief flyby of the city's fledgling Moganshan art district.
A new maglev train purported to reach speeds of 311 mph was tested for the first time on the Yamanashi test track in Japan this week. When put into service in 2027, the high-speed, magnetically levitated train will connect Tokyo with Nagoya, reducing the travel time from the current hour and a half down to only 40 minutes.
While China currently holds the speed title for in-service commercial trains with its airport-to-city maglev in Shanghai, Japan has long been the global leader in high-speed rail. Its famous Shinkansen bullet train network debuted way back in 1964.
With this new train, the L0, Japan will almost certainly reclaim the "world's fastest" title. However, the Chinese have claimed they have a train in development that will zip along at over 600 mph.
In any case, the L0 will carry up to 1,000 passengers at a time. And in just over 30 years, Japan will have extended the line to Osaka, 300 miles from Tokyo. The government plans to eventually expand the network around the entire country.
Floating trains zipping around the country at almost half the speed of sound; we, or at least the Japanese, are living in the future.
When I was hiking last year in northern Laos, I came to a break in the forest near the top of the hill. The view was astonishing. The sky was filled with shadowy clouds and where bright sunlight broke through cloud cover, it settled on karst formations hanging with vivid green foliage. I whipped out my DSLR and snapped some shots so I could relive it later. When I loaded up the photos that night, I was beyond disappointed. The greens were dull and the forests were too dark to make out any detail. In my longer exposures where I could see the forest, the sky was blown out. My eye (or rather my brain compensating for my eye) saw the bright colors and dramatic shadows. My camera didn't.
The human eye is still miles better at imaging a scene than even the most powerful DSLR. That's why spectacularly lit scenes will often look terrible on a laptop screen. Enter post-processing. On-board camera programs, be they Instagram or other native digital filters, can do all sorts of things to improve your photos. It used to be that red-eye filters were all the rage. These days, even freely available photo manipulation programs can saturate, contrast, tint, blur, invert, soften and cross process. The more powerful tools, like Lightroom and Photoshop, can do pretty much anything imaginable to a photo.
These tools are a blessing, but unfortunately they're not inherently good for travel photography. These tools are just as readily used for evil. For every photographer who has fixed a screwy white balance in post-processing, there's another who has maxed out the saturation bar in Picasa or applied an infrared effect just for the hell of it. I, too, have been guilty of these sins. But if there's one image-editing gimmick that really brings out the pitchforks, it's HDR: high-dynamic-range imaging.
"If you don't already know, wood chopping is a big sport in Australia and is highly competitive," says Flickr user BaboMike, who captured this shot at a Tasmanian wood chopping competition. The aim is simple: whoever gets through the log the quickest wins. This particular competition is located in Campbell Town, which boasts a population of "approx 900," according to the town website. The wood chopping is part of the Campbell Town Show, the longest-running agricultural show in Australia, which features sheep and yard dog competitions in addition to something called the "Paddock to Plate Prime Lamb" competition.