North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal is home to the world’s last pre-Neolithic tribe. It's a forbidden tropical paradise where, less than a fortnight ago, an American missionary was slain by the locals while trying to convert them to Christianity. According to the Google reviews it’s also a “great vacation destination,” and "a truly cultural experience unlike any other.” Another review describes it as “a really nice place to visit for all the family… to be cooked and eaten for dinner.” The island currently boasts a 4.6-star rating off more than 3,000 reviews.
The savage tribes of internet trolls have caught wind of North Sentinel, and they’re going about the business of reinventing the primordial deathtrap as an idyllic tourist hotspot. When 27-year-old John Allen Chau arrived on the mysterious island earlier this month, Bible in hand, he was the first known person to have visited in more than ten years. The locals shot arrows at him and left him dead on the beach within days. Now, a week since news of his death became the subject of international attention, glowing endorsements for the place where he was killed have flooded Google Reviews.
“Went here with my girlfriend for a holiday, I loved it. She wasn't impressed. Very poor choice for romantic get away [sic],” reads one five-star appraisal. “Great choice for anyone who like to rough it up a bit… The meal was okay. Not sure what it was but it tasted like chicken or pulled pork, possibly human.”
While Google's summary of North Sentinel also mentions a "3-star hotel averaging $75", it bears repeating that it's strictly illegal to visit or make any kind of contact with the locals of the island. The primitive Sentinelese people are “not immune to anything” according to PC Joshi, an anthropology professor at Delhi University, and it’s feared that something as simple as a common flu could be devastating for their tiny civilisation. There’s also the matter of them treating all outsiders with violent, sometimes murderous resistance—an issue that’s causing headaches for authorities who are trying to retrieve John Chau’s body.
Indian police abandoned attempts to reclaim the American’s remains on Saturday after being confronted by throngs of Sentinelese islanders brandishing bows and arrows. The police vessel got to within 400 metres of North Sentinel, Fairfax reports, when they caught sight of the armed tribespeople and entered into a long-distance standoff.
"They stared at us and we were looking at them," said director-general of police Dependra Pathak. Eventually, the police boat withdrew from the area.
In order to reach a better understanding of the tribe’s customs and “what they do when they kill an outsider”, police are revisiting the case of two fishermen in 2006, who were also slain by the Sentinelese people after straying onto the Island. A week later, their corpses were strung up on bamboo stakes, facing out to sea—”a kind of scarecrow’, according to Pathak.
Anthropologists have suggested that it may be impossible to retrieve John’s remains. Though his death is officially a murder case, it’s understood that no charges will be laid against the endangered tribe.
The only consequence, as far as they should be concerned, is the boost that it’s given to their tourism industry.