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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Abandoned Anthrax: Vozrozhdeniye Island

photo courtesy MACTAK

The Aral Sea was known as “the sea of islands,” and once upon a time this camp – now in the middle of the desert – sat on the largest. The secrets buried on Vozrozhdeniye Island lurk in the shadows of the greater Aral desiccation storyline.

It was once the epicenter of biological warfare testing and housed the largest facility in the world. Its labs experimented with some of the deadliest pathogens known to man.

The island operation was shut down in the early 1990s, and authorities believed the remote location of “Anthrax Island” offered the buried biological weapons insulation from the rest of the world. But when the Aral’s water level dropped a land bridge was revealed, which offered anyone access to the site and its arsenal of pathological weapons.

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The Disappearing Sea

Over one hundred ships are mysteriously abandoned in this desert in central Asia. You rub your eyes, but it’s not an optical illusion; no water as far as the eye can see. This desert is like any other, aside from the empty landlocked fishing ports, rusted ships frozen in sand, and former island with abandoned biological weapon facility (does your desert not have that?)

Actually, fifty years ago this “desert” wasn’t a desert at all. It was the fourth-largest lake in the world and supported a fishing industry that produced 50,000 tons of catch and fed over 100,000 people across nine countries. But after five decades of abuse, the ecosystem collapsed and the water retreated. Entire cities watched their economies vanish as the ships ran aground. Then the residents fled.

Today the Aral Sea has lost 85% of its volume. In its place: A toxic and unforgiving new desert.

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Derinkuyu & The Underground Cities of Cappadocia

Underground_City

In 1963, a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey knocked down a wall of his home. Behind it, he discovered a mysterious room. The man continued digging and soon discovered an intricate tunnel system with additional cave-like rooms. What he had discovered was the ancient Derinkuyu underground city, part of the Cappadocia region in central Anatolia, Turkey.

The elaborate subterranean network included discrete entrances, ventilation shafts, wells, and connecting passageways. It was one of dozens of underground cities carved from the rock in Cappadocia thousands of years ago. Hidden for centuries, Derinkuyu‘s underground city is the deepest. Read more…

An English Town in China

Thames-Town-7

You’re not far from Shanghai, yet the spire of the Victorian revival church in front of you casts its shadow across a medieval town square. A row of Tudor homes are just around the corner from a string of pubs and shops. But you notice everything is closed. The only people you see are the occasional wedding party taking photographs. A sign at the entrance reads:

Welcome to Thames Town. Taste authentic British style small town. Enjoy sunlight, enjoy nature. Enjoy your life and holiday. Dream of Britain. Live in Thames Town.

It’s not quite right, much like the rest of the town.

The borough known as Thames Town was part of a 2001 initiative to move millions from Shanghai’s city center into nine international suburbs. The concept had noble intentions, but things did not go as planned.

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