Man, Son Spent 40 Years Alone in Jungle Treehouse

Ho Van Thanh fled the Vietnam War and never came back

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 9, 2013 7:30 AM CDT | Updated Aug 11, 2013 6:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – After a bomb killed Ho Van Thanh's wife and two of his sons during the Vietnam War, Ho took his 1-year-old son into the jungle—and never came back. That was 40 years ago. On Wednesday, officials carried the too-weak-to-move 82-year-old away from the treehouse he and his son had been living in, Thanh Nien News reports. Ho and his son, Ho Van Lang, now 42, have spent the intervening years hunting and subsisting on both wild plants and cassava roots and corn and sugarcane grown on their own nearly 2.5-acre field.

The men wore loincloths made of bark—though the elder Ho still had his military uniform pants folded neatly in the treehouse, which sat about 16 feet off the ground, alongside a small red jacket his son once wore. The younger Ho knows only a few words, and his father has "fallen out of the habit of speech," the Telegraph reports. Though Times Live reports they were found by villagers who were searching for firewood and alerted authorities, their existence apparently wasn't entirely unknown. Ho's youngest son—who was a newborn when Ho disappeared— found the two more than two decades ago, but couldn't persuade them to accept him or rejoin society, despite annual gifts of salt and oil. (Amazingly, they're not the only family to live in isolation for 40 years.)

This screenshot from a Vietnamese TV report shows the house Ho Van Thanh was living in.
This screenshot from a Vietnamese TV report shows the house Ho Van Thanh was living in.   (YouTube)
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