Surviving with the Vietnamese Tarzan | Ho Van Lang

Living in the jungle with the Vietnamese Tarzan

Jun 25, 2016 · Curiosities,Docastawayers in the Past

In 1972 a veteran of the North Vietnam army fled to the jungle with his baby when his house was bombed. During this bombing he lost his mother and two of his children.

Ho Van Lang 2013 captured

Only three years ago the world was surprised by the news that an old man and his son had been ‘rescued’ from the Vietnam jungle, after having lived there totally and absolutely isolated from the civilian world during 41 long years. The son’s name is Ho Van Lang and he grew up oblivious to the rest of the human race, not having even the most basic data on ‘man’.

Last November, while I was in Vietnam for work reasons, I was lucky enough to spend a few days with this ‘jungle boy’ who is now living in a village, adapting to civilization.

During the first few hours I was with him I could tell that Lang was enthusiastic about the idea of going back, for the first time, to the place in the jungle where he came from. Thinking over this, I thought it would be great to go back together and spend five days surviving on what nature gives, just as he had done during all his life. Lang didn’t doubt one moment and accepted the invitation and together with his brother and my translator we went to the heart of the jungle.

 

Alvaro Cerezo Docastaway Ho Van Lang At the beginning my intention was to learn new survival techniques from him but without realising, I unveiled one of the most endearing people I have ever met. For this and other reasons the ‘survival’ took a back seat and I decided to relax and enjoy being with him in his environment.

His primitive form of life doesn’t just take us directly to the Neolithic Age but, due to the isolation he suffered from birth, it also leads us to better understand the true essence of ‘man’.

In this long article, which is accompanied by this website we have created about him and a documental to be published this summer, I will try to help you to understand the details of this fascinating story and, more important, to discover who Ho Van Lang is:

 

1 – ISOLATION  

A LIFE OBLIVIOUS TO THE CIVILIZED WORLD

Lang abandoned civilization when he was only just over a year old so he has no memories of those moments. For him, life began in the jungle.

Ho Van Lang looking at the horizon

During his 41 years of absolute isolation Lang rarely saw other human beings, more so during the last years, but those he did was always from a great distance. For almost half a century these two ‘tarzans’ showed themselves very few times, always fleeing into the undergrowth

Throughout his life in the jungle he never saw a motorcycle or car, not even a man made path.  Neither did he know of any other source of energy other than fire, the sun, the moon and stars.

Ho Van Lang searching for planes in the skyBoth father and son lived in areas so far and so hidden in the jungle that Lang, at 41, had never seen artificial lights, not even on the horizon. This ‘Mowgli’ was completely ignorant of how the outside, civilized world was with the exception of the stories his father told him about the aeroplanes that crossed the sky.

Except for planting the seed of fear against ‘man’, his father was the source of essential information about the civilized world for him. Amongst many things, he explained that there were people in those ‘birds’ that flew so high above.

However, the information he was given was always limited as his father decided to leave out facts which would have been a threat to the job of keeping them together. One of the most important things he didn’t tell him was the existence of the female sex within the human race. He did this to dowse his son’s instincts. His strategy on omitting this and many other facts on life in civilization worked to perfection as Lang, at 41, was never tempted to visit that other world of which his father talked.

 

2 – SETTLEMENTS  

41 YEARS FLEEING FROM MAN

During the long years of his isolation they settled in five different places, always on the same mountain range. In the last house, where they were ‘captured’ they had lived there during the last eight years of their lives. During my experience with Lang in the jungle, I was able to go to two of the five settlements. The one before the last was only an hour’s walk away.

Main river in the area

The first two decades they settled in the lowlands, being warmer there and with a plentiful supply of water. It was particularly important for them to stay near the main river which goes round their mountain range because it was their only source of fish.

However, with the advance of civilized man –who started to be seen in the area– they had to leave their home and settle in higher areas.

The anguish and distress they suffered throughout all those years must have been very similar to that which the jungle animals feel when they sense the advance of ‘man’. During the last 20 years that mountain range has been seriously deforested and if we look at an up to date map we can see that their last settlement was, indeed, one of the few virgin areas left.

Both father and son were now surrounded and their only option was to flee to the higher areas of the mountain range, but the cold and shortage of water there prevented them taking this step. And, above all, their fear of the spirits which they believed lived in the summit.

In 1994, while looking for wood in the jungle, a peasant discovered two savages who fled terrified into the jungle. The peasant went to tell the people who lived in the village and Ho Van Tri, youngest son and Lang’s brother, was overjoyed to know that surely the savages were his father and brother who were still alive somewhere in the jungle. From this very moment a long search began, which ended when they found the home where they lived, well camouflaged in the highest part of a tree. Tri’s disappointment was major when it was discovered to be uninhabited. Lang and his father had fled on seeing the rescuers arrive.

Map of Ho Van Lang tree house

They were years in which they were playing a cat and mouse game. While ever they found new places to live, father and son escaped. Nevertheless, with age the father became slower and he began to resign himself into accepting the visits of his presumed son: the father never believed that this warm, loving man was his son, he thought –and still thinks– that all his family died in his home (with the exception of Lang) when the bomb fell on it. Lang, however, was more receptive and he didn’t mind when Tri started to visit each year taking salt and spices for them.

Even though he tried once a year, Tri never succeeded in convincing them to return to civilization. Particularly because the father, who was suffering serious mental disorders, had a profound phobia of returning as he did not believe that the Vietnam War was over.

Hiroo Onoda

The father’s argument is very similar to that of the Japanese soldier, Hiroo Onoda, who spent 30 years living in the jungle of a Philippine island, believing that the war against the Americans was ongoing:

Hiroo Onoda never took any notice of the hundreds of messages he received from his family telling him that the war had ended 30 years ago. A few months ago I ventured onto this island called Lubang, and spent a few days exploring and living in the mountains where Onoda was hidden. I wanted to better understand the life of this ‘castaway’ throughout those 30 years. Curiously, Onoda surrendered in 1974, so while this japanese castaway was returning back to civilization, at the same time,  in Vietnam was starting the adventure of this two ‘Tarzans’.

You can learn more about my experience on Onoda’s island in this article.

 

3 – DWELLING

THE TREE HOUSE

For security reasons they always built their refuges using a thick tree as the main support. Against what is commonly believed –due to the fact that the photos which circulated in the media were somewhat misleading– the reality is that the home wasn’t supported by the high tree branches, but was built just a few metres high and supported by the trunk.

Ho Van Lang last tree hut shelter

Despite the low height of this last refuge, Lang suffered a great deal because of the danger his sick father posed him. Due to his father’s poor mental state Lang lived the last few years full of stress and anxiety, staying awake all night long in case his father should fall into the nothingness.

This is the main reason that, meanwhile we were in the jungle, Lang stayed awake until the high hours of the dawn, always being the last to sleep.

For their defence, father and son had assembled a mechanism of decoys around the refuge so as to frighten their enemies. But in truth, this really didn’t intimidate anyone because it was well known that they were two innocent and inoffensive people.

They always kept a small fire going inside to protect it from the rain and at the same time it kept the mosquitoes away. And being suspended, far above the floor, it kept the snakes and the more feared centipedes.

Ho Van Lang last tree house area

Unfortunately, last year someone destroyed their last house so I wasn’t able to visit it.  However, in this photo on the right you can appreciate what the place is like but without the structure.

 

4 – WATER 

WATER ALWAYS AVAILABLE IN ABUNDANCE

Water was never a problem for them. This Vietnamese mountain range has a heavy rainfall during the rainy period which keeps the rivers flowing all year.  They never boiled or filtered the water; they just drank it direct from the streams.  They did have a few intestinal problems, but nothing grave.

Only when they went to higher levels did they drink bamboo water as the water was scarce there.

 

5 – FOOD 

ALL IS EDIBLE IN THE JUNGLE

Food wasn’t a problem either for these two castaways.  They enjoyed a rich and varied diet.  They cultivated some fruit and vegetables but never managed to domesticate the animals, just hunting them.  They even indulged eating honey, betel or tobacco.

Vegetal Kingdom

They gathered pineapples, bananas, durian, jackfruit, cassava (yucca), rice and corn, but any green plants would do:

Lang eating any leaves he finds in the jungle

One of the things that most surprised me was the ability of Lang in gathering wild food in the jungle.  For him the majority of the jungle plants were edible.  While his pot was boiling the water he got together different plants he’d found all around.

During my years on desert islands I have always been very selective when it comes to finding plants for my personal use, be it that the majority of them are course and not very nutritive, or that they are acid or even poisonous. But Lang didn’t hesitate and pulled on any green leaves he found on his path and gathered them for the pot.  Anyway, the flavour or taste of the drink wasn’t too bad.

They found their honey in bee colonies they had come across in certain parts of the jungle. Among their addictions was tobacco and betel/areca which was responsible for the reddish colour of their teeth.

 

Animal Kingdom

It could be said that Lang and his father ate anything they found alive in the jungle, with the exception of insects.  Their carnivorous diet included:

  • Monkeys (trap)Ho Van Lang hunting a rat
  • Rats (trap)
  • Snakes (attack)
  • Lizards (trap)
  • Frogs (attack)
  • Birds (trap)
  • Bats (attack)
  • Molluscs (attack)

 

They also ate fish whilst they lived near the main river during their first ten years out there. Because of the advance of ‘modern man’ they were forced to move to higher levels so the last 20 years they never got to eat more fish. Their method of fishing was to block the course of the river at both extremes with trunks so as to concentrate the fish all in one place. Using stones they managed to daze the fish so they could catch them with their hands. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use this method with him as it was the rainy season and the flow of the river was too vigorous. They also used fish hooks and harpoons.

Ho Van Lang eating bat

For Lang no part of an animal was to be wasted.  Whilst I was with him in the jungle I saw him eat bats as though they were olives. He used the heads and viscera of the rats.   We didn’t catch any monkeys but he told me that even the eyes could be eaten.  Incidentally, simians were his favourite food there, and also the most difficult to hunt and catch.

 

6 – FIRE  

STRIKING TWO STONES

The only method they used was the percussion of metal and quartz. They found the metals in pieces of war bombs dispersed along the mountain range. The quartz, however, is abundant in the main river and also in the streams. The tinder they used was from a small cottony layer they found in the stalk of a certain plant. Lang’s father knew of this method before they escaped to the jungle and they never tried a different one.

Ho Van Lang making fire

During their four decades in the jungle they tried to keep their house fire lit as many days as they could. But sometimes for simple distractions it went out and they had to re-light it again.

Sometimes the days were very humid and they couldn’t light the fire so they had to eat their food crude and be in the dark every night until the rain ceased.

 

 

7 – CLOTHING  

THEY WERE ALWAYS CLOTHED

Paradoxically, father and son always wore something to cover their private parts even though they were completely alone. According to Lang his father taught him to cover himself when he was a small child. Notwithstanding, when I was with him in the jungle I never felt he was embarrassed at being seen nude, which made me assume that it was just a custom his father had instilled in him.

Ho Van Lang's umbrella 2

The clothes were made of tree bark fiber and included a sleeveless jacket for cold days – in the rainy season the nights can get to 15ºC. They also had a strange umbrella made from leaves and in the form of a turtle shell.

Throughout his life Lang had no idea of what his face was like as he could only see himself through the reflection of the water.

 

8 – TOOLS  

MADE WITH BOMBS FROM THE WAR

Most of the cutting tools were made of the steel from the bombs they found scattered about the jungle during the first decade. Funding the steel on a fire they managed to give form to all the bits of shrapnel and even managed to make axes.

Ho Van Lang axe 2

On the other hand, kitchen ware, like pans, pots and plates, were made of the aluminium they found in a broken down American helicopter. By the amount of rivets they had it was probably the Bell UH-1 model, which could also have been the same type that destroyed Lang’s home years before, killing his family.

They never ate with their hands, but had improvised chopsticks made of bamboo. They had about 20 pieces of kitchen ware and today they are still conserved in the village.  According to Lang, surprisingly enough, during the 41 years they were in the jungle they never lost a single object.

For our experience in the jungle I asked Land to take all his tools so we could use them in our day to day activities. The majority of them worked efficiently.

 

9 – ILLNESSES     

ALWAYS HAVING ROBUST HEALTH

Ho Van Thanh eye

According to Lang’s testimony, during the 41 years they were isolated in the jungle, neither he nor his father suffered any serious health problems:

  • His father lost an eye to a sharp branch while he was walking one evening in the jungle. Up to today he still can’t see through that eye as well as having lost his sense of hearing due to his age.
  • Lang lost a part of a finger when he was a child caused by a burn while cooking.

Ho Van Lang finger

They both had a cold an average of once a year and an intestinal problem now and again.  They always treated their ailments with medicinal plants. Apart from that, they were both very healthy, more so taking into account the father’s age; he was 83 when he was finally captured.

In August of 2013, when they were taken back to civilization both father and son fell ill just as was to be expected, specially Lang as he was never exposed to the virus and bacteria that frequently attack human beings. During the following months Lang kept catching something or another and various times had to be taken to hospital. When I was living in the jungle with him I was worried about his health every time we shared food, drinks and utensils because his brother said that Lang had never interacted with a white man.

Ho Van Lang betel arecan paan

Against common belief Lang’s teeth were in perfect shape and he hadn’t lost a single tooth. The only thing was their colour, a kind on reddish colour, not black; this was caused by his habit of taking an addictive psycho active stimulant which is a mix of betel leaf, lime and areca walnut. Curiously they got the lime by pulverising the shells of small molluscs which live in the streams. Betel and areca, however, were not difficult to find in the jungle.

Unfortunately Lang is very addicted to this ‘drug’ which is very common in Asia, specially in India where it is called ‘Paan’.

During the time I could observe him, the thing that most caught my attention was the impressive size of his hands.

 

10 – DANGERS AND ANIMALS  

NOTHING THREATENED THEM

Their worst enemy was the centipede. Contrary to what is commonly believed there wasn’t any animal in the jungle that presented a threat to them. Only the bloodsuckers leeches, became a daily nuisance.  During the 5 days I lived with Lang in the jungle I was stung by two of them. Mosquitoes were also a daily nuisance but none of these insects supposed a problem for Lang or his father, they didn’t even try to avoid them.

 

Snakes

During his long years in the jungle Lang was bitten a couple of times by snakes but fortunately they weren’t poisonous, green ones. Although Vietnam is an area rife with cobras, they never came across one. While I was there I didn’t see any at all either.

 

11 – TIMETABLE  

NO SENSE OF TIME

For obvious reasons their timetable was synchronised with the daylight hours which were divided into 4 time lapses:

  • sunrise
  • midday
  • sunset
  • night

The father knew more or less what year it was as the jungle is full of butterflies each April, but because of his deafness and his mental state I wasn’t able to confirm this. On the other hand Lang was completely unaware of the concept of neither years nor weeks.

 

12 – LANGUAGE  

TALKS TO HIS FATHER IN LOCAL DIALECT

The communication between Lang and his father was always limited as he only used a handful of words in a dialect which belongs to an ethnic minority from the area called Cor. Today he is improving his vocabulary so he can have more complex conversations; although up to date he hasn’t yet managed to understand the Vietnam language.

 

13 – REASONING

HE COULD ONLY COUNT FROM 0 TO 10

Ho Van Lang counting numbers

Maths was limited to numbers from 0 to 10. Lang is capable of adding but only when the result isn’t more than 10 and always using his fingers.

Although it may surprise people from our world, he never needed to know further than number 10 as amounts weren’t essential for survival. I asked him how he explained to his father that he had caught 15 bats and he answered that he said ‘a lot’ or ‘more than 10’. The same applies to writing: Lang didn’t know how to represent the numeric symbols. It has to be taken into account that the food and water were never a problem for them so to know the quantity was trivial.

For obvious reasons Lang and his father never used a wheel. Regarding the moon, Lang thinks that the men from civilization hang it there with a string every day.

Ho Van Lang looking at the fire at night time

Lang says he believes in God and that he can be found in each and every element of nature – although, curiously, for him the moon is made by man -. They believe in ghosts and this belief was the main reason they never went to the highest parts of the mountain range when they were threatened by the arrival of modern man.  The father always thought that the spirits lived in the heights.

The only subject on which he refused to speak was on death and Lang avoided my questions over and over. The only thing I was clear about was that he is conscious of his own death. I’m sure his father has spoken to him about this as I doubt that anyone could believe that life is infinite, this is obvious just by observing the life of animals.

 

14 – SEXUALITY 

AN ASEXUAL PERSON

At 42 years old Lang never knew the existence of the female sex as his father never told him.  More surprising still is that today, now being able to distinguish between men and women, he still doesn’t know the essential difference between them.

Jungle man vietnam war

When I realised this I asked myself if he had found out on his own, watching the animals mating for example.  However it wasn’t possible because, along with other reasons, if one is not aware of also being an animal then it is impossible to use the necessary rule of three. Lang told me that, opposite to what happens in civilization, the jungle animals stayed well away from him.

There is the possibility that one day he may have seen a women from a distance whilst escaping startled into the undergrowth but for obvious reasons he wouldn’t have realised this. Furthermore, the first day he landed in civilization he met several women who treated him kindly but he didn’t see any differences, neither in their faces nor in their voices or bodies. I’m sure he was too rapt looking at the new world he had in front of himself so smaller details would be left for later…

Ho Van Lang discovering women

This happened in the fourth week of his arrival in civilization: Lang was surprised to see a 3 year old girl walking nude near her home. He ran to his brother to ask him what had happened to the child’s genitals. Tri just explained that boys and girls were different in that part of the body and didn’t go into further explanations.

Lang’s brother thinks that perhaps it is better to keep certain things about life from him as it is improbable that Lang will find a girl in the village that would be willing to form a family with him. Lang’s mind is like a one year old child’s in many ways, and the hospital physiologists confirmed this.

As his mind has not been contaminated by any prejudices of any kind, Lang always talks about this kind of subject with no embarrassment whatsoever. And after talking to him for several days I can confirm that Lang has never had the minimum sexual desire and his reproductive instinct has never shown its head in any of its many facets.

Vietnam Jungle Boy

What is most surprising is that since Lang left the jungle something has begun to change in his body: one day he admitted that since he got to the civilized world his genitals are experimenting strange changes during the night and he doesn’t know why. This invites us to some interesting conjectures about the human instinct.

I don’t know if his brother managed to hide the facts of life for very long as Lang now lives surrounded by people and –worst of all– with access to the television. I personally hope that he lives the rest of his days ignoring these subjects, as a child does. I believe that way he’ll be able to live a happy life as I fear that ‘knowledge’ won’t make him freer but would be the beginning of a long storm for him.

 

15 – PERSONALITY  

 A CHILD IN A MAN’S BODY

Ho Van Lang asexual

The extraordinary circumstances which Lang had to face all his life sculptured his personality into a very different one from the rest of humans.

 

Discipline 

His father – who was his only source of information on the outside world –held him in a kind of semi-slavery situation by induced fear as well as suffering a profound Stockholm syndrome. This has made him live the role of an obedient son and today he is still unable to take complete advantage of his freedom.

 

Social rules

Ho Van Lang eating a rat

Lang is totally ignorant of our world’s social rules up to the point that he finds it hard to distinguish between the good from the bad. Even though he is a very inoffensive and pacific person, obeying the orders of his close relatives he usually does so in such a natural way that sometimes it produces surreal situations, as happened a year ago in the village:

That day, whilst Lang and all the family were watching television, a group of small children were playing and shouting outside in the street. Because of the noise they were making, as a joke his brother asked Lang to go out and give them all a stick. A minute later an apocalyptic scenario took hold of the village when all the children went to look for their parents while crying desolately. Lang had gone out and literally flogged the children with a bamboo stick, with a never-ending smile on his face throughout.

Lang is a baby in a man’s body. According to his brother Tri, should he ever ask him to kill someone he feels sure that Lang would do so instantly, without even asking why.

 

Gesticulation

Ho Van Lang laughingWith the exception of his father, never having seen other humans who he could imitate has generated in Lang a series of very characteristic expressions which I couldn’t help noticing from the very first moment.

When Lang is thinking he has a serious, reflexive and penetrating look making him, in my opinion, a very attractive person. On the other hand when he breaks his silence his look completely changes and his smile illuminates his face just like that of a child. He never says a word without this very characteristic smile on his face.

This ‘social immaturity’ has also influenced his corporal gestures and it could be said that it is almost effeminate. This doesn’t mean that Lang is homosexual as we are really talking about an asexual person, as we have explained before.

Boy living in the forest in vietnam camboya

Movements

Lang’s movements are always slow and delicate as, against common belief; there were no threats to life in the jungle where they lived. If we add to this the fact that there was never a shortage of water or food, and that even the fast animals were easily captured with traps, the result was that there was absolutely no reason to run or be alert, expect for when they saw other humans

 

Sense of humour

His sense of humour is like that of a one year old baby, copying facial gestures or reacting to hide and seek and this contributes to making Lang a very endearing person.

 

Prejudices

When we talked about different questions I noticed that Lang talked free of prejudices with the exception of his own death. As he had never been contaminated by the human race he had no problems talking about sex or other intimate things. Neither did I notice that he felt uncomfortable with his own nudeness

 

16 – CAPTURED  

LANG DIDN’T PUT UP ANY RESISTANCE

It was assumed that the father wasn’t going to put up any resistance due to his deteriorated state of health, so during the morning of 7th August, 2013 father and son were ‘captured’ inside their hut. On that day a group of about 20 men surrounded the tree house where they lived.

And this was what happened.  According to the testimony of Mr. Ton, one of the men who climbed up into the tree house, Lang –who was in the middle of making something out of rattan– didn’t put up any resistance either, most likely because he had nothing to lose; his father was very ill.

The truth was that Lang had begun to doubt all of his father’s paranoid psychosis as he was aware his mental state was getting worse and this was amplified by his age. Because of this he paid more attention to what he was told by his brother Tri, who visited him once a year, and who always tried to convince them to return to the village.

 

17 – FIRST SENSATIONS IN CIVILIZATION  

ARRIVAL ON ANOTHER PLANET

The sensations Lang felt that afternoon as we walked to the village were of absolute shock and only comparable to that of one of us if we were left on a new planet!

One of the people who were with him that afternoon told us that during the walk to the village Lang was continually looking from one side to the other.  According to this man, while walking, Lang looked on in silence at the houses, the road, the motorbikes, the children, who he was looking at for the first time. But what surprised him most on arriving at the village was the fact that the animals were man’s friends.

Lang was bewildered as everyone came out of their houses to look at him. He was taken in a car to the hospital and Lang said that one of the biggest experiences he had that day was being sat in that strange metal object of which his father had told him about when he was small. While inside the car he never stopped looking out of the window watching how fast things moved as they passed. He had never before experienced speed.

By looking at the mirror, Lang could discover what his face was like. Later on, at night, he was completely amazed by the light that came from the light bulbs. Lang told us that being able to enjoy light during the night was something most extraordinary.

Ho Van Lang and the TV

And just after that he saw a television for the first time ever, something his father had also told him about when young. He knew, therefore, that the people who appeared on it weren’t ‘inside’ the box.

That evening he also saw a woman for the first time in his life. However, it would be in later when he realised there were differences between male and female, as I explained before in the paragraph “Sexuality”

 

18 – HIS LIFE IN CIVILIZATION  

ADAPTING DAY BY DAY

Ho Van Lang and the animals

Its been three years since Lang arrived in the modern world. The first year was the most difficult for him amongst other reasons, because of health problems from the virus and bacteria new to his system. Nonetheless,  we can confirm that Lang is happily adapting to his new life, mainly for the freedom he now enjoys.

On the contrary, we can’t say the same for his father and he still won’t admit that Tri is his son –he still thinks that Tri also died when the bomb fell on his home during the war-.  He also continues believing the war is ongoing and sits in a squatting position in a corner of his room most of the time. When the father saw me enter the house for the first time it was obvious he was stressed and frightened: he probably thought I was an American soldier. He was, however, very amiable the times I got near to him but always with a nervous smile. According to Tri, his father’s major obsession is to return to the jungle one day.

Ho Van Thanh

Lang now lives with his family in a recently built house, donated by the Vietnam Government as his father is considered a disabled war veteran –before the return of his family Tri lived in a very basic house made of bamboo-. Lang works every day on the land, together with Tri, who confirms that the abilities his brother learned in the jungle are a great help in the countryside. The father always remains at home as his hearing and mental capacities are much deteriorated.

Bit by bit he is learning the society’s rules. He can now distinguish between good and bad and also knows the possible punishments, one of them being prison. He has also learned the significance of money and has even begun to use it, although he can only recognise the notes by their colours as he can’t count higher than ten.

Ho Van Lang riding motorbike

Lang hasn’t managed to learn to balance on two wheels, and I doubt he’ll do so in the future. He is terrified of having to ride on the back seat of a motorcycle. When he does, he keeps his body stiff the entire journey and as soon as the driver brakes he takes advantage and jumps off and walks the rest of the way on his own. It’s logical that Lang can’t understand the reasons that make those two wheels stand up on their own.

On the other hand Lang thoroughly enjoys the sensation of riding in 4 wheeled vehicles though he hasn’t the least idea of how they are driven. When I asked him about this he said that the cars accelerates when the driver turns the steering wheel to the right and it slows down turning the steering wheel to the left.

Ho Van Lang baby crying 2

Another thing about him that surprised me was the way he interacts with babies. One day I asked him to hold a baby in his arms to see how he reacted, but as soon as he held it, it began to cry. Trying to calm the baby Lang began blowing softly in its face. Even today I ask myself if this was an imitation of a mother’s kiss, or perhaps a gesture he had observed in animals in the jungle.

Lang still doesn’t speak or understand the Vietnamese language and this impedes him following what is happening on TV, but in spite of that, Lang dedicates various hours a day in watching images on the screen. He doesn’t know that the films are really fiction and I would imagine that half of what he sees he can’t assimilate.

Regarding gastronomy, his great discovery has been fish from the ocean which he says is his favourite food. Lang hasn’t seen the sea yet, nor is he curious to see it. He doesn’t even understand the concept of a nation, nor is he conscious that the earth is round.

As I have said previously, Lang seems happy with his new life and enjoys the love he receives from Tri and his neighbours. I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude for the kindness and the priceless help that his brother offered me, never looking for anything in exchange.

You can know more about this story on this website and also on this article

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Rothwell July 9, 2016 at 4:44 pm

What an awesome story. Amazing to see the story of this man and his father but also that you care so much as to document it and spend time with them!

Reply

Alvaro Cerezo July 10, 2016 at 5:10 am

Thanks a lot Joshua 🙂

Reply

Kyle Kristopher McIlwraith July 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Very interesting read! Bravo.

Reply

Alvaro Cerezo July 10, 2016 at 6:01 am

Thanks Kyle! 🙂

Reply

Vladimir Horbowy July 9, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Amazing story and great article.

Reply

Alvaro Cerezo July 10, 2016 at 6:02 am

Thanks Vladimir 🙂

Reply

Ashley McDonnell July 9, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this incredible story! What an experience.

Reply

Alvaro Cerezo July 10, 2016 at 6:02 am

Thanks to you for reading it Ashley 🙂

Reply

Alvaro Docastaway July 10, 2016 at 4:08 am

Thanks a lot Joshua 🙂

Reply

Alvaro Docastaway July 10, 2016 at 4:08 am

Thanks Kyle! 🙂

Reply

Moiz Khan July 10, 2016 at 5:11 am

Breathtaking.

Reply

Alvaro Cerezo July 10, 2016 at 6:28 am

Thanks Moiz 🙂

Reply

Alvaro Docastaway July 10, 2016 at 5:28 am

Thanks Moiz 🙂

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Guilherme Pejon July 10, 2016 at 5:43 am

Can't wait to see the full documentary this summer!

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 2:13 am

Thanks 🙂

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Jessica Thomas July 10, 2016 at 8:35 am

i never read blogs, but I just read this from start to finish. Very interesting! In looking forward to the film.

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 2:09 am

I’m so glad to hear that. Thanks Jessica 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Hansa Başak July 10, 2016 at 11:25 am

Great article. Thanks for your effort.

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Javid July 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm

This was such a fascinating piece, I hope that one day I'll get a chance to experience what you did!! Thank you for sharing your truly wonderful experience with us. I cant wait to see the documentary!!

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Alvaro Cerezo July 13, 2016 at 2:08 am

Your are welcome! Thanks for reading it 🙂

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Joanna Gunningham July 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Loved reading this. What a fascinating man

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 2:08 am

Yes he is. I even miss him now 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:05 am

🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:05 am

Thanks Jessica 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:06 am

Thanks 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:06 am

Thanks for taking time to read it. It wasn´t short 😛

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:07 am

Thanks a lot Javid 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 1:07 am

Yes he is. I even miss him now 🙂

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Chloe Wilkinson July 11, 2016 at 7:25 am

Alvaro Docastaway You're welcome! Do you stay in contact?

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Unfortunately no because I need always a translator 🙂

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Thẹ Prabster July 11, 2016 at 8:46 am

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! It's indeed incredible.

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Thanks a lot 🙂

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Huong Nguyen July 11, 2016 at 9:03 am

Hi, when will you release the full doc?

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Alvaro Cerezo July 11, 2016 at 9:28 pm

We will start launching short videos next week 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Chloe Wilkinson Unfortunately no because I need always a translator 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 11, 2016 at 8:25 pm

We will start launching short videos next week 🙂

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Trần Thế Trung July 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Thank you! Great story!

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Phuong-Anh Tran July 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Thank you for everything you did! A very thought-provoking story, about different aspects of life and human beings 🙂

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Alvaro Cerezo July 13, 2016 at 2:02 am

Thanks Phuong 🙂

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Dam Thanh Ngoc July 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm

It's a amazing story. Thank you so much for having an idea to make this documental. Please let me know if you will publish a book or DVD. I'm willing to have it for me and for my friends. Bravo !!!

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Alvaro Cerezo July 13, 2016 at 2:06 am

Don’t worry. You will enjoy it on youtube 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 13, 2016 at 1:00 am

You are welcome 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 13, 2016 at 1:01 am

Thanks Phuong 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 13, 2016 at 1:02 am

Don't worry. You will enjoy it for free on youtube 🙂

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Alvaro Docastaway July 13, 2016 at 1:05 am

and thanks for sharing on your wall with those nice words 🙂

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Ruth Vichules August 5, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Alvaro Docastaway You can send him pictures, photos, etc (?)

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