22 June 2019 | Straits Quay Marina, Penang, Malaysia
17 July 2016 | Penang, Malaysia
20 February 2016 | Penang, Malaysia
02 October 2015 | Thailand
11 April 2015 | Krabi Boat Lagoon Marina, Thailand
25 December 2014 | Langkawi, Malaysia
04 June 2014 | Philippines
07 January 2014 | Brookeville, MD
04 July 2013 | Subic Bay Yacht Club, Philippines
31 October 2012 | Palau
02 December 2011 | Hermit Islands, Papua New Guinea
08 November 2011 | Maryland, USA
15 May 2011 | Kavieng, New Ireland, PNG
26 April 2011 | Kavieng, New Ireland
26 March 2011 | Kokopo, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
16 March 2011 | Kokopo, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
12 February 2011 | From Peava again
05 February 2011 | Solomon Islands
01 December 2010 | From Lola Island, VonaVona Lagoon, Solomon Islands
30 November 2010 | Peava, Nggatoke, Solomon Islands

Tunnels Everywhere

25 November 2010 | Kolombangara Island, Solomons
A week or so ago we're on the south coast of the imposing volcanic island of Kolombangara, a Japanese stronghold in WW II. We stumble along the jungle path behind our guides, Joseph and Rina Billy, while their little barefoot daughters skit along ahead of us over rocks, ruts, roots, holes, and all the stuff that palm trees chuck onto the path as well. Our destination is the remains of an underground Japanese tunnel complex that includes a hospital. As we walk deeper into the bush (what we'd call jungle) Joseph waves his arm, points to a hole in the hill and says, "tunnels everywhere." His father-in-law, the kastom land owner, has discovered many of the tunnels in just the last 10 years.

The farther we go, I try to imagine the enormous effort it must have been to get wounded soldiers this deep into the jungle and into one of those holes. There are petrified jeep skeletons and grenade innards along the path. Maybe they had a road back then...

When he picked us up at Asylum earlier, Rina Billy told us to bring a torch, but when it's time to enter the first tunnel we realize our short-term memory failure and groan, "We forgot!" His distress is palpable because he knows how dark those tunnels are and it's too far to go back for light. Joseph bangs on his old torch with ancient batteries that barely make the light of a flickering birthday candle. Never mind. We'll try anyway.

It's VERY dark, VERY creepy, and VERY muddy in there. Jim and I wriggle in behind Rina, scrunched down in the narrow passage designed for much shorter people. The only light we have comes from the occasional flash on the camera. You quite literally can't see a thing down there, and while he and I hang back, Rina urges Jim a little farther forward, then to the left, then to the right, so he can snap a few shots, with the hope that we'll be able to see something of it in photos, if not in person. You can see what we saw:

Katie and Rina Billy wait while Jim goes farther into the tunnel. Rina tries to shed a little light with his tiny cell phone but the only thing that works for a flash is the flash of the camera.

Farther in the tunnel splits. Rina says there should be a machine gun on the right and some hospital equipment on the left.

An old rusty bedframe and bottles... saki or medicine?

When you leave behind your helmet and gun did you leave in a hurry?

It was only after Jim was out and we were looking at the photos that we saw all those creepy-crawlies on the tunnel wall.

Good job, Jim!
Vessel Name: Asylum
Vessel Make/Model: Tayana V-42 Cutter
Hailing Port: Bethesda, MD USA
Crew: Jim & Katie Coolbaugh
In October 1999 we set out aboard ASYLUM, our Tayana 42 sailboat, on a slow wander around the world. The deal was that we’d keep going until we got tired of it or weren’t having fun anymore, or got all the way around, whichever came first. [...]
Extra: Within Malaysia: 0174209362 (Maxis) WhatsApp +60174209362
Asylum's Photos - Main
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