What would drive someone to seek out a place as desolate as the moon? Why would you travel thousands of miles just to meet someone is an isolated spot? What happens when you are so far from civilization that you never hear any news? In the vast world around us, you can run, but can you hide?
Some people seek out remote areas because they have something to hide. Sometimes governments or scientists need secret, safe places to conduct experiments. Or sometimes you just want to get away from it all.
Lubang, the Phillipines
This soldier was so far away from civilization that he believed World War II was still raging 29 years after it was over.
During the war, Japan conquered the Phillipines and many islands in the Pacific. The US eventually defeated Japan and drove them out of those areas. But the Japanese soldiers were fanatically dedicated to their emperor and fought to the death unless ordered by their commanders to surrender. As a result, a few of them were left over in remote areas, holding out by themselves for years after the war was over. They refused to believe it was over until they got official word from their government.
Although the war was over in 1945, one Japanese soldier lived in the jungles of the small island of Lubang in the Philippines until 1974! Lietuenant Hiroo Onoda was by then 52 years old. He was the last of his comrades to escape capture when the Americans took over, surviving for 29 years on food gathered from the jungle or stolen from local farmers. “Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare and not to die,” Onoda told reporters. “I had to follow my orders as I was a soldier.” In that remote place, news of the war’s end never reached him. Not until his former commanding officer went to Lubang and informed him personally that the war was over and he could go home did he surrender his weapon.
Ever heard the expression “to search far and wide”? Dr. David Livingstone took that to a new level when he decided to search of the source of the Nile River. In fact, he searched so far and wide that in 1866 he disappeared without a trace somewhere in central Africa. Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist and explorer himself, was sent by the New York Herald newspaper to find him, and, after a trek of 700 miles through tropical jungle, find him he did, in 1871.
Their first meeting was in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika in what is known today as Tanzania. It was there that Stanley uttered the words that became famous: “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”
Livingstone smiled and answered: “Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”
Livingstone had been very sick with pneumonia and then cholera, and his supplies had been stolen, all of which had slowed down his explorations.
Even after Stanley found him, Livingstone decided to continue his journey. He eventually died in Africa, but not before he had mapped such places as Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi, and Lake Bangweulu. In many cases, he was the first white person to see them. Now that’s far out! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 725)
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