The current life of Vietnam's 'wild man'

Three years after being “rescued” and brought back to his home village, the so-called “wild man” Ho Van Lang in Tay Tra District of the central province of Quang Ngai still remembers his old life and has decided to build a tent in the jungle to live alone. 

After the tragic death of his mother and two sons when US bombs hit his house, Ho Van Thanh, a soldier, panicked and held his one-year-old son Ho Van Lang and ran into the jungle. He lived in the forest for 40 years until August 7, 2013.

When they were rescued, Thanh was 81 and Lang was 41. They were living in a 2sq.m thatch hut on an ancient tree on the peak of A Pon mountain.

Mr. Ho Van Tri, Thanh’s son, said that according to his relatives, in 1972 his father, a soldier, was stationed near his home. One day, Thanh heard the bombing so he quickly ran home. But his home was in rubble and his mother and two older sons had died.

"Facing a great loss, my father panicked. He held my brother Loan, over one year old at that time, to run into the forest. At that time I was an infant. Until the age of 12 I followed my uncle to seek my father and my brother in the forest. They lived in the hut on a tree," said Tri.

After that meeting, twice a year Tri carried salt, kerosene and several knives to the forest for his father, even though his father and brother did not realize hewas their relative. Every time entering the forest, Tri slept along streams. He did not dare sleep in the hut with his father and brother because of panic.

According to Tri, the villagers repeatedly went to the forest to advise his father and brother to come home, but whenever they saw strangers, they ran very fast into the jungle to hide.

To survive in the wilderness, the two men lived on the tree to avoid predators. They also tried to keep a fire and went to neighboring upland fields to seek rice, corn, sesame, sugarcane and tobacco seedlings to plant around their hut.

The villagers sometimes brought clothes, pots, axes and knives for Thanh but he kept these things in his hut, not using them. Every day the father and son wore only a loincloth braided with bark and made homemade tools for pounding rice and cassava into flour. They also created bayonets, broadswords, arrows, traps, and axes to hunt wild animals.

To overcome the cold winter, Thanh and his son lit fires in the hut, and smoke in the hut warmed the body. Checking the hut, the villagers found a variety of wild meat, including dried mouse meat and tens of large bamboo tubes filled with reserve food such as rice, sesame and chili. They also kept teeth and gall of many species of animals to use as medicine and jewelry.

Returning back to their village, the father and son had a new home while the father enjoyed preferential government policies for a war invalid.

Living in the community, the two people could not completely integrate into normal life. Thanh sat pensively in his house and rarely talked to anyone.

Tri said even though Lang was happy to see his family again, he missed the forest.

"He was used to live in the trees so everything here is new and strange to him. Sometimes, he'll go to the forest from morning to sunset no matter if it's raining or not," Tri said.

Lang started to get used to the new life two years later but he still didn't know what to do during the days. Thinking that he had become a burden, Lang decided to go into the forest and find a place for farming. Sometimes, when the rice runs out, he will return home for a while.

This makes him happier because he can bring home his potatoes or cassava. Since Lang follows nomadic farming, he recently moved the farms closer to home. Lang looked ecstatic when he had guests. It has been a long time since he met so many people. Lang is still sourcing his own meals like going out at night to find frogs or eels.

Lang said he also wanted to have a family of his own but worried that "I'm too old now, no woman wants me."

Lang's father, Ho Van Thanh, only sits in one place because of mental illness. When he was rescued, the family brought him to hospital immediately but doctors said not only did he have mental illness but also lots of age-related health problems. He lost one eye in the forest and has kidney failure which can't be treated anymore. He is provided with VND600,000 (VND27,000) a month pension.
Lang recently built a hut near his field to live alone. He said he did not want to live in the brick house in the village because he was unfamiliar with it and he preferred the forest.
Lang’s life is very simple, and not very different from his previous life.

Some photos of Lang's current life:
Lang returned to his home village three years ago.

The hut of Lang and his father in the jungle.

The current tent of Lang.

Lang lives alone in a small tent near his field.

Lang at present

Lang still remembers his previous life in the jungle.

by Le Ha / vietnamnet