Bigfoot Encounters

Abominable Jungle Men

by Ivan T. Sanderson, © Pursuit, April 1970

Another Vietnam veteran story: Several years ago, Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans in his book, On the Track of Unknown Animals, devoted considerable space to a relation of reports of completely wild, fully haired, sub-hominids in what was then Indochina. In view of reports of similar creatures now established from all over the world - central Asia; northern Scandinavia and the Caucasus in Europe; West, Central, and Southeast Africa; North and South America — it should not be too surprising to be offered some possible confirmatory evidence from Viet-Nam.

This goes as follows: "Lt. Alan Szpila of Cumberland. R. I., spotted footprints while piloting a 101st Airborne Division helicopter. 'I have been looking at footprints from the air for quite a while now and I noticed the exceptional size (of these) immediately. I landed to get a closer look and sure enough. These tracks were about 18 inches long and eight inches wide.' Someone suggested that the tracks were made by Ho Chi Minh sandals, which are made of car tires. 'They were embedded deeply, indicating a heavy wearer. The stride of whatever made them was about four feet,' he said. Warrant Officer Darryl Santella of Long Beach, California saw the footprints at the same time as Szpila and estimated that, if made by a man, he must have been about eight feet tall."

The whole Indo-Chinese peninsula, which is to say from the end of the eastern Himalayas to the southern border of China on the Pacific, and thence south to Singapore, is a vast complex of mountains with still very extensive tropical forests between them. The territory is not yet properly explored, and despite three millennia of true wars and the more recent war-like outbursts in Burma, Malaysia, and the Vietnamese, a great deal of this territory just goes on as it always has, unknown and for the most part even unbeknownst to the rest of the world — even the Viets and the Chinese. In little, slim Malaya, for instance, there are very large unexplored areas while nothing much is really known about the country immediately around old villages, towns, settlements and estates in the outlands of that country.

There have been reports of hairy primitives from this country for decades. The most recent came to us in a personal communication from Australia and reads as follows:

I once confronted the Malayan creature, an equivalent of an ABSM at a distance of less than 20 feet. I was stationed at Seleter R.A.F. Base at the time, had bought me a native canoe and, in my spare time, used to paddle as far away from the base as time would permit. This was the only way to get away without a pass. I enjoyed these little trips immensely as I felt free of restrictions and having to wear regulation dress, as all I wore were a pair of bathers or sometimes a sarong. On this particular day I'd paddled a long way from the Base and had pulled ashore to eat the fruit I brought with me. It was an uninhabited spot and I was enjoying the quietude of my al fresco snack. I became aware of movement in the brush just behind me, of someone coming toward the beach, and felt rather dismayed at not being able to have an intended swim in the nude.

Looking round to greet whoever it might be I was amazed to see this thing just as it was about to step out of the brush onto the beach. I'm, sure my hair stood on end. I was so shocked and as Bob Hope once quipped, "even my goose pimples had goose pimples." I felt to weak to run so do not know who was as more scared, it or me. After look at each other for a brief moment the thing uttered a funny little cry and then turned and rushed back into the brush from whence it came. From what I saw, it was a near human as could be, large ungainly proportioned, white yet pinkish colored skin, which was sparsely covered, even the face with long fine silky fair hair.

The facial skin was flabby and loose looking. The eyes seemed watery and sad looking, possibly because the lower lids sagged somewhat, and I swear the eyes were blue-gray. If it weren’t for all that hair, its cry, and the way it rushed away, I would have supposed the local ugly man was going for a nude swim too. Male? Female? I don't know.

It was its sad looking face, which got my main attention. It wasn't an ape or anything like that because when it turned, its behind was like a human's except the cheeks of its bottom sagged a little and there was all that silky hair.

And it definitely wasn't a human even if we consider the possibility of a human going 'native'. When I think of it now, this being or whatever, would be a ripe candidate for the musical play ‘Hair.’ But joking aside, I shall never forget the sadness of that face. It took me some time to get over the encounter long after returning to Base, and although it scared the daylights out of me I somehow felt terribly sorry for this 'being' whenever recalling the sad expression it had.

The term 'sad-sack' would be most apt. "It is interesting to note that all reports of ultra-primitive hominids from the Malayan region have been reported to have pale to white skins and light-colored hair. This is an awfully funny idea for all kinds of different people, over decades and so widely separated in space and education, to think up spontaneously. Could we, perchance and for once, stop yammering and listen to the facts?

Pursuit 3 (2): 36-7 (April 1970)

Edited to text by Bobbie Short, December 1997
© From the Records of Bernard Heuvelmans as written by Ivan T. Sanderson

Back to What's New?
Back to Newspaper & Magazine Articles