- A family composed of 85-year-old Ho Van Thanh and 44-year-old Ho Van Lang, fled when the US Air Force bombed the area that killed their entire village
- This Vietnamese family spent over 40 years in the jungle thinking that the Vietnam War is still ongoing and getting close to human settlements was unsafe
- Since coming out of hiding, the father and son have been living in a village trying to adapt to civilization
In 2013, the family—affectionately called the ‘Tarzans’—were seen by villagers walking around wrapped in loin clothes with their hair long and unwashed. The villagers then reported the father and son to local officials.
Their self-imposed exile happened when the US Air Force bombed their village and in the process killed the entire population including Ho Van Thanh’s wife and two of his children.
For the last four decades, the pair had been living in a secluded area of the Tay Tra district of Quang Ngai region of Vietnam. They successfully evaded people by living in a small wooden hut five meters above ground, making their own tools, and subsistent by gathering, picking, and hunting food in the forest.
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When they were discovered, a relative tried to talk to the father and son into returning to civilization. The process proved to be a challenge as the father no longer recognizes any of his relatives and barely remembers the language of his native Kor ethnic group. The two initially refused thinking that the Vietnam War is still ongoing. They were finally persuaded when Ho Van Thanh eventually needed medical attention due to his old age. Both of them received medical attention before they were reintegrated back into society.
For the next three years, they lived in a village, trying to adapt to their new surroundings.
Their incredible story caught the attention of Docastaway, a HongKong based tourist company, which provides tours to uninhabited parts of Asia.
Alvaro Cerezo, Docastaway director, talked to the son to take him and his crew back to the jungle to show how the family managed to survive in the wild for so long.
Ho Van Lang said that they survived by growing corn and cassava, keeping their fire lit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Fortunately, most of the plants and fruits growing in the forest were edible. Their diet consistent of fruits, vegetables, harvested honey and cooked a wide variety of meats, including bats, birds, frogs, lizards, monkeys, rats, snakes and fish.
“They never ate with their hands, but had improvised chopsticks made of bamboo,” Cerezo said.
Cerezo said that he saw Ho Van Lang eat bats as though they were olives. The pair also made their own tools, using whatever items they could find, which included fragments of American bombs.
Despite being exposed to a host of potential diseases while out in the wild, the father and son never had any major health issues. They only experienced flu once a year and occasional stomach ache.
Cerezo also discovered that Ho Van Lang still maintains his hermit tendencies - not interested in any news from the outside world or his own country. He still doesn't use electricity and is busy working on a piece of land he was given. He hopes that someday he will get married.