Previously unseen footage shows the ‘real-life Tarzan’ experiencing civilisation for the first time after surviving in the Vietnamese wilderness for four decades.
Ho Van Lang died aged 52 in September following his reintegration into mainstream society after surviving 41 years in the jungle with his father who fled in 1972 when US carpet bombing during the Vietnam War killed half his family.
The pair re-established contact with Vietnamese society in 2013 and believed the Vietnam War was still raging on when they entered a village and sought medical help for Lang’s father Ho Van Thanh.
After 2013, Lang began living a relatively modern lifestyle, but some friends and observers believe the stresses and poor diet of the ‘civilised’ world had a detrimental effect on his health.
Now, remarkable footage has emerged showing a shocked Lang’s first impression of the ocean and his puzzled reaction when taking to the skies for the first ever time.
Video of Ho Van Lang’s first encounters with everyday interactions have gone viral on social media after it was shared by his friend and filmmaker Alvaro Cerezo.
The ‘real-life Tarzan’ Ho Van Lang, who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years died of liver cancer aged 52 – eight years after he returned to the ‘civilised world’. He is pictured above with filmmaker Alvaro Cerezo (right)
Previously unseen footage shows a shocked Lang’s first impression of the ocean, and his puzzled reaction when taking to the skies for the first ever time
In other clips, Lang beams with joy as he walks along a beach and watches the ocean waves gently roll back and forth
During their trip, Lang showed off his survival skills – including his fishing abilities
Alvaro Cerezo (right), an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering ‘modern life’ probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan.
In the clips, a visibly stunned Lang is seen with glazed eyes as he stares out of the window of the aircraft for the first time.
In later footage, he beams with joy as he walks along a beach and watches the ocean waves gently roll back and forth, pointing with amazement as he creeps closer to the water.
Lang had lived a remarkable life and made headlines across the globe – but Alvaro Cerezo, an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering ‘modern life’ probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan.
Cerezo said: ‘I’m so sad to see him go, but for me his passing is also a liberation because I know he was suffering in the last months.
‘He was a beautiful human being, to forget him will be impossible, I will miss him everyday.
Ho Van Lang gazes out over a city scape from his hotel room after returning to modern society in 2013
Ho Van Lang (right) was discovered in 2013 after living in the jungle of Vietnam since he was two years old
‘But I didn’t like seeing him living in civilisation. I was always concerned that he and his body wouldn’t be able to handle such a drastic change.
‘He had spent all his life living in the jungle and then came to live in the “civilised world” where he started eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol.’
Cerezo met Lang two years later through his work with Docastaway – an organisation which helps people who want to escape from civilisation and spend a few days or weeks completely alone on a desert island.
During their friendship, Cerezo recorded on camera some of Lang’s most vulnerable, emotional and beautiful moments, including his time in the jungle, adapting to civilised life and returning to the wild.
Cerezo also wrote a book about Lang’s life, and has now compiled a montage of footage he took when the pair lived together deep in the jungle.
He said: ‘Two years after he was brought back to civilisation, I went to look for Ho Van Lang at his village to see if he would teach me some new survival techniques that I could apply on the desert islands.
‘I always say that the best survival “teachers” are to be found among the tribes.’
Earlier this year, Lang’s remarkable story went public as it emerged the father-son duo lived for decades in the forest of what is now known as the Tra Bong District before they were found by locals looking for firewood.
Authorities say Lang’s older brother Ho Van Tri encouraged the pair to return to civilisation when Thanh’s health began to deteriorate in 2013. He died of an unknown cause in 2017.
The family elder Thanh once lived a normal life with his family in the hamlet of Tra Kem before the Vietnam war.
After fleeing, the pair survived in the wilderness by foraging fruit and cassava from the forest and planting corn.
They wore loincloths made out of tree bark, and lived in a timber hut raised five metres above the ground.
Family: Ho Van Lang, left, and Ho Van Thanh, right, moved to the jungle when their relatives were killed by a mine during the Vietnam War
Lang and his father returned to civilisation in 2013 when Thanh’s health began to deteriorate in 2013
When the foragers saw the two ‘jungle men’ from a distance acting abnormally, they alerted local authorities.
Officials set up a team to track them down, and found them in August 2013 after a five-hour search.
The father could speak a little of the minority Cor language, but the son knew only a few words.
The pair then underwent medical check-ups as a first step to being reintegrated into mainstream society.
Lang made an emotional return to his former home in July 2016.