The Real-Life Tarzan discovering ‘our world’

Oct 03, 2021 · Curiosities


As I explained in this old article and in the book about this ‘Real Life Tarzan’, in 2015 Lang showed me ‘his world’, surviving for a week in the place he had lived all his life, hidden deep inside the jungle. After having spent that time together I promised him that one day I would show him ‘my world’, the ‘desert islands’ where we’d experience surviving together again.



In 2018, Lang was going through a very difficult time grieving after the death of his father -Nov the 3rd 2017- with whom he had lived for 40 years in the deep jungle. Even more so, as he was his only company and connection to the human world during their time of being isolated in the jungle. I realized it was time to help him retreat from the village for a little while where he had been living since 2013 after father and son were discovered and brought back to civilization. Lang was quite curious to know how the sea was and most of all he wanted to fly; during all his life while isolated in the jungle his only idea of the outside world were the planes that sometimes crossed him overhead in the sky. His dad explained to him that they weren’t birds but hollow objects which had humans inside it. This was the reason why he has always been fascinated by them.



During the long journey to the desert island Lang discovered many new things for the first time, like seeing a big city from a distance while we spent the night in a hotel near the airport. We made sure to avoid walking in the busy streets while being in the city, at all costs. I was always afraid that the emotional impact of finding himself in the crowd amongst people could have been too strong for Lang; enjoying the experience on the desert island was our main goal after all.

Ho Van Lang (the real life Tarzan) looking at the city from a hotel window

Next days he jumped into the plane with enthusiasm and at last saw the world from above. Lang watched the clouds at some times and then the propellers at some other. He couldn’t understand how such massive object could move while suspended in the air.

Ho Van Lang (the real life Tarzan) looking at the clouds from the plane

Finally, he saw the sea for the first time. Standing on the shore, he watched undeterredly, the vastness of the ocean which seem to have no end on the horizon. Lang having lived all his life hidden in the depth of the Vietnamese jungle, had only heard of the existence of the ocean through his dad.

Ho Van Lang showing the ocean to Alvaro Cerezo from Docastaway

On the next day he sat on a floating device for the first time; the boat that carried us to the desert island in a few hours of journey, while it moved from side to side. Lang felt a little scared and crouched in the middle of the boat in a constant position and held onto the wooden planks. Seeing himself surrounded by only water was a situation he had never imagined. This was his least favorite thing of the whole adventure towards the island. Lang said that he felt safer in the plane because it hardly moved.

Ho Van Lang (the real life Tarzan) on the boat looking at the desert island at the distance


As the silhouette of the desert island appeared, Lang looked at it although understanding what it really was. As soon we landed, Lang’s face lit up. The place was filled trees, animals; nature… In other words, it was ‘home.’ He quickly climbed a coconut tree and brought down a few coconuts. After that began our few marvelous days of surviving again with the real-life Tarzan, in a new environment for him.

Alvaro Cerezo from Docastaway on the raft with the real life Tarzan. Ho Van Lang





 On the first night it was difficult for him to sleep because he feared the island could sink at anytime. He believed that the entire island was just another boat like the one we came in, in the afternoon. In fact, during that journey, all the islands he saw in the distance were floating for him.

Alvaro Cerezo from Docastaway and Ho Van Lang preparing the dinner on a bonfire on the island beach


Among other anecdotes, the one made me laugh the most was, when he woke up one morning all thirsty and in his sleepy laziness tried to open a coconut to drink from & failing to do so, went directly to drink the sea water, and got shocked when he found it was so salty.

Ho Van Lang (the real life Tarzan) showing to the camera the shells he collected

All those days with Lang was an unforgettable experience. Lang had spent the first 40 years of his existence oblivious to all the ‘things’ that existed in the ‘other world’ outside. All the said ‘things’ of that outside world were happening, while his life was passing peacefully without interferences. ‘Things’ we are so used to while he was discovering them little by little during those days. It was like seeing the life we live today through the eyes of someone from the distant past.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shela October 30, 2021 at 5:42 am

I was happy and cried to see his smile.
Terimakasih sudah mengajak Lang terbang, melihat wajahnya, dan menaiki perahu.
Love from Indonesian


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