Famous castaways, jettisoned and marooned – stories from people that were left alone

The adventure novel TWO JOURNEYS tells the story of a man who is the sole survivor of a post-apocalyptic event. Is it possible to survive as the last man on earth? In adventure literature, Robinson Crusoe is probably the most famous character in such a situation. But some real-life people have been separated from humanity for extended periods of time – if not the remainder of their life. These include the likes of Thorgisl, Grettir Ásmundarson, Fernão Lopez, Juan de Cartagena and Pedro Sánchez Reina, Gonzalo de Vigo, Marguerite de La Rocque, Jan Pelgrom and Wouter Loos (the first westerners to set foot in Australia), Miskito Will, Alexander Selkirk, Philip Ashton, Pedro Serrano, Ada Blackjack, Jesus Vidana, Salvador Ordoñez, Lucio Rendo, Leendert Hasenbosch, Chunosuke Matsuyama and Charles Barnard – there are many more names of people that were forced to live in isolation over extended time periods. Some lived isolated for a few months, others for years… What unites these involuntarily castaways is their tremendous drive to return to humanity.

Some also select to be alone for extended periods of time, such as Gerald Kingsland and Lucy Irvine or Tom Neale (the latter spent 16 lonely years on the Cook Islands – by his own choice).

Survival is thus definitely possible, and depending on the character of the castaway, might even be seen as enjoyable by some… one of the reasons why I selected this theme for my novel Two Journeys: how does an individual thrown from modern society, deal with the prospect of being alone…perhaps for the rest of his or her life?

Learn more about the adventure books by Clemens P. Suter here.

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More from Japan – our trip to the land of the rising sun

More images from our trip to Japan – this time mainly Tokyo and Kyoto.

Below a snap from the Shinjuku Gyoen park. We visited a number of parks on this trip, and this one had a beautiful conservatory, a koi pond and two teahouses. Shinjuku is densely populated, and to escape into the green is a great distraction. But the high rises are always visible!

We also visited several museums and the MOMAT (museum of modern art Tokyo) was definitely a highlight. Especially intrigued by the paintings originating from the time of Second World War. Most were quite oppressive and disturbing to look at.

Better not travel by subway around rush hour- but sometimes it can’t be circumvented.

Below: a delicious cup of coffee with Macha-based cream!

The picture below was taken in Kyoto (the place where the Kyoto Protocol was signed). Ironic to see this air conditioner in action: cold air exits the smaller tube, hot air is released from the bigger exhaust. Great for the patrons, but not truly CO2 conscious.

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From Tokyo to Kyoto – travels in Japan. Highlights of Shibuya.

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the Meiji shrine. Below the iris garden created for the Meiji empress at the start of the 20th Century. A beautiful, well balanced park, you can see a lot of gardening effort goes into the maintenance.

Visitors leave their wishes at the temple, which are later burned by the priests.

In Shibuya there’s a cafe where you can stroke cats! It costs a few hundred yen for an hour or so. You can just see a white cat at the top of the arrow. We didn’t go in, the idea made us feel a bit guilty.

You think that’s weird? How about a cafe where you can stroke hedgehogs? The lady holds up the sign to invite you in.

Or would you rather pet an owl?!

Then again, Shibuya is a wild place, heavily frequented by hipsters and tourists, and full of weird stuff (which is not typical for mainstream Japan).

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Our visit to Japan – cityscape & art. PART 1.

Flying JAL we experienced terrific service and great leg space in a brand new 787 plane.D259832B-5704-47FA-AF7E-443CC51BE4E4.jpeg

The familiar corner shops to get a quick nibble or a hot or cold coffee:

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Our Airbnb in Shinjuku- an intriguing neighborhood with some interesting nightclubs (ladies pay 0¥ !):9EDA2A26-81E8-4E2F-9069-83F0A37543B2

We thought this was a supermarket, but this is a gift shop where you can buy mainly melons as expensive giveaways. We witnessed a customer buying a banana wrapped in cellophane with a gift string attached to it. Probably for his superior?FF570D8D-84DD-49FB-8C23-045EC801E84B

Next we went to Roppongi Hills, a 40 floor business tower with a great museum. Last time we saw an exhibit by Warhol. Take a look at that roof garden in the building opposite.6F9E23BD-D416-45C8-9324-978DE947D9A6

That must be Shibuya in the distance, the district built on top of the second busiest train station in the world. The busiest station is Shinjuku, which handles more than 3.5 million persons … EACH DAY! “The station was used by an average of 3.64 million people per day in 2007, making it, by far, the world’s busiest transport hub” (Wikipedia)4B9F5B09-2EE8-48DE-99DE-D0510C519292

On the top floor of Roppongi Hills is the Moro Art Museum – with a great exhibit by Shiota Chiharu. “The Soul Trembles” – a very dreamy exhibit, beautiful work.65F980CD-1542-4A13-A94B-6AABDEE71EBD4EF21E17-D4E1-48F3-8C7E-437CFADE6165B6FA652C-FF71-4A9D-871E-AE41AC7D8DDAE744F9F0-669A-4795-8CB4-F1A25E50471E

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At the foot of the tower, an evaporation system to keep people cool.

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Sushi bar Genki Sushi in Shibuya, a bit overcrowded, but OK quality.

Drinking an ice old coffee in XFLAG STORE Shibuya. It isn’t every hot, but humid.516328E3-719A-4B09-B52D-837FB1F13E16

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Surprise! You won’t BELIEVE what I saw in Kansas City. The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

I had a chance to visit Kansas City. First surprise: this town isn’t in Kansas, but in Missouri, a relatively flat place with an abundance of farmland and space. Looked quite rural yet attractive from the air.

As usual I only had a couple of free hours in between, so how best to spend my time? Most US cities do not have an inner city that invites a leisurely stroll, so I had to come up with a plan B (although later I did discover that downtown Kansas City does have its charm). An Uber driver pointed out that the city had an art museum – he wasn’t impressed by it, but by his looks he wasn’t into art too much; more a baseball kind of guy.

So I took two hours for a fast visit to the Nelson Atkins museum of art, and indeed was in for a very big surprise, as shown on the photos below.

An impressive facade protects a rich exhibition, which was assembled by art scouts during the 1930 crisis: with wallets full of hard dollars earned the years before the economic collapse, these scouts bought artifacts and paintings from all over the world.

All in all, a visit to this temple of art is definitely time well spent!

 

The façade of the museum, with Rodin’s Thinker in the sculpture garden
An early Piet Mondrian, created before his more abstract style
An early Piet Mondrian, created before his more abstract style
A beautiful impressionist painting by Monet
A beautiful impressionist painting by Monet
A painting by Rembrandt van Rijn
A painting by Rembrandt van Rijn
A Kandinsky
A Kandinsky
A painting by Max Beckmann
A painting by Max Beckmann
A Indian deity in the historic section
A Indian deity in the historic section
I statue from the small but exquisite Egyptian section
I statue from the small but exquisite Egyptian section