Cave-dwelling Chinese hermit

From the Mirror (UK): “Chinese hermit found living in cave for 20 years – which is 50ft climb up a cliff face,” published August 22, 2013. (The article is reprinted here because so many such articles on the web tend to disappear too soon.)

Authorities have tried to place Feng Mingshan, 54, in a nursing home but he keeps escaping and heading back to his cave home high above a ravine

Some people like to have their own chair or their own room in the house to get a slice of the quiet life, but one Chinese man has chosen a cave 50ft high to get away from the neighbours.

Feng Mingshan, 54, has lived in a cave high above a ravine, which is only accessible by a vertical climb, in the southern Shaanxi Province and two-hours away from his native Gaobadian for 20 years.

The hermit, who claimed to have found the cave when was a boy, has made some home improvements to his cosy dwelling, but failed to say why he chose this life.

“It was a small cave when I found it, and I expanded it to its current size using a hammer,” he said, shouting to a reporter outside the cave.

“I also cleared the path through the ravine. Summer is cool here and it’s good.”

The cave entrance has a curtain hanging at the entrance, and his family revealed they do keep in contact Feng – though none of his brothers have made it up the steep climb.

“My brother seldom talks to others and has never been engaged. But he’s lived in there for over 20 years,” said his younger brother.

Residents say Feng is often seen in the village looking for supplies and are amazed by what he does to get in and out of his cave.

One resident said: “He usually comes out at night and climbs in and out the cave with ease. It’s really amazing.”

However, local government officials are wanting to persuade Feng to move from his home, even trying to put Feng in a nursing home several times, but he eventually escaped after failing to get along with other residents.

According to town mayor Xu Min, Feng was diagnosed with intermittent psychosis in 2011, and moved back into his cave after briefly receiving treatment.

“Some local officials went to visit Feng a few days ago and waited for two hours with no sight of him,” said Xu. who said the local government will continue to support Feng and persuade him to move from the cave.


Agafya visited

Agafya at 69 years

Russian photographer and naturalist Igor Shpilenok, with two nature reserve inspectors, visited 69-year old Agafya Lykov recently. The Siberian Times profiles the visit in an August 15 article titled “The woman who time forgot – Remarkable new pictures of the hermit Agafya Lykova.” Includes several Shpilenok photos.

They had spent just 20 hours with this remarkable Siberian woman, before leaving her once again to the solitude into which she was born.

“This short time provided fodder for many reflections on the distant and recent past, the meaning of life, the power of the human spirit, faith,” Igor wrote in his blog. “No, I do not feel that Agafia Karpovna’s life is a dead end in the taiga.”

URL:; also in Russian on Shpilenok’s blog.

Vietnam forest recluses

Vietname forest hermit

An 82-year old man, Ho Van Thanh, and his 44-year-old son, Ho Van Lang, lived as hermits in the Tra Bong District of coastal south-central Vietnam since 1974. They were known to live in seclusion about nine years ago, but efforts to persuade them to emerge from the forest failed at that time. Now the two men have been persuaded to leave the forest and will “reintegrate into the community,” according to the Vietnamese Tuoi tre News website.

The elderly Ho Van Tranh was a war veteran who apparently fled to the forest in a bout of mental instability in quarrels with his family. He took his then year-old son Lang with him into the forest. The two hermits lived in a tree hut and used a variety of makeshift tools produced by Thanh, a blacksmith. Thanh is weak and receiving medical attention, but both father and son, while expressing wishes to return to the forest, are apparently accommodating to society, benefiting from public services that will enable them to built a house. One aspect of connecting to the modern world for Ho Van Lang is replacing betel with cigarettes, learning to operate a television set, and listening to music on a mobile phone.


Mississippi hermit: Jean Guilhot

Jean Guilhot (1878-1959) was the “Hermit of Deer Island” off Biloxi, Mississippi. Born in France, he traveled to Key West, Florida, and then to Deer Island off the Mississippi coast. His life was a series of hard times, as the notes in an article titled”‘Hermit of Deer Island’ will get his due at Biloxi Cemetery.” Guilhot’s grave site will be rededicated, with a new marker, and a dramatic recreation of his life presented.