A truly astonishing story emerge in Vietnam this week with two men walking out of the jungle having lived in the deepest recesses for a staggering 42 years. In 1971 the tiny village of Tra Khem in the Tay Tra district of Quang Ngai province, was bombed by US forces. Ho Van Thanh was at home with his family. The blast killed his wife and two of his children, and Mr. Ho was so devastated and traumatised that he retreated deep into the jungle to escape.
The years passed and not knowing whether or not the war was still raging he remained deep in the heart of the jungle and simply stayed put. He fashioned a timber tree house for shelter, planted vegetables and foraged for fruit and berries. He even planted and cultivated tobacco.
A few days ago they were spotted by locals hunting for fire wood. They sounded the alarm a search party set out and a mere five hours later they found the two men, not aged 82 and 41. They were wearing nothing but simple loin cloths, the father was very weak from a recent illness but his son, Ho Van Lang is in remarkably good shape. They have very little language between them. The father has forgotten most of his native Con dialect, the son never having learnt more than just a few basic words.
It is a remarkable story a reminds one of a similar incident in february 2007 when young woman was found wandering naked in the jungle, shortly after a local man had reported food having been stolen from his lunch box. The girl had wandered off with her sister into the jungle when aged only eight years. That was 19 years previous to her being found. The sister has never been found and her whereabouts are still unknown.
She was looked after by the family claiming her as her daughter, she mainly refused to wear clothes, couldn’t walk, preferring to scramble about on all fours and had absolutely no language whatsoever. The woman named as Rochom P’ngieng, never integrated back into society and in 2010 threw off her clothing and ran naked back into the jungle. She has not been seen since.
Of course superstition always creeps into these stories and stories are rife, of her being seen with a naked sword carrying man who legend has transformed into folklore as a jungle spirit. The family have offered a reward of a wild ox, a pig, a chicken and four jugs of wine, which, mystics assure them, will secure their daughter’s safe return. The father had refused a DNA test, having identified her from a scar on her arm. This has raised suspicions that it is not the same girl and in fact someone held in captivity, but none of this was able to be proven.
In 2004, 34 pro Khmer rouge fighters emerged from the jungle where they had been hiding since the fall of the regime way back in 1979.
These three unconnected stories are incredible. It is difficult to believe in this day and age that people can simply disappear without trace and emerge decades later. What on earth their experiences have been one can only guess.