The Cave of Teeth in Laos: Was this a Vietnam-War POW Prison?
Above Photo: The entrance to the Cave of Teeth, Laos.
My interest in Vietnam War POWs and MIAs and specifically those who were left behind in the jungles of Asia after the Vietnam War had ended, is dealt with in my novel BACK, and I was interested to read the below article on the internet before my own visit to the Cave of Teeth in Laos last year.
I have edited it, although the article and the photos are copyrighted to and reproduced by kind permission of my friend Chris at http://motorcycletourslaos.blogspot.com/.
We set off for the Cave of Teeth, which is located in karst mountains along the Nam Pa river, north west of Luang Prabang.
It was a nice ride, with some great views.
When we got close to the Cave of Teeth, we had to proceed on foot.
First we first cross a broken bamboo bridge and then walk through a meadow, before we got to the mountain containing the cave.
Then we had a hot, steep climb, ahead of us.
Hot as the ascent was, when we actually got into the cave it was even hotter.
I was having problems trying to take pictures but I managed a few, and the cabinets you see in this article are full of teeth and Bones. Some of them look old, some much more modern. Some are animal teeth and bones but some are definitely human.
I had heard various stories about the cave. It was used as an air raid shelter during the Vietnam War and after that locals say it was used as a prison by the Pathet Lao Communist forces, who were fighting alongside the North Vietnamese in Laos.
There were many passages and tunnels in the mountain, of which this cave was just a small part. I didn’t really enjoy being in there as I didn’t want to get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels.
We scratched around the dusty floor and found what looks like and old webbing clip, very old and rusty and the guide said I could keep it so I will get it cleaned up.
One of my travelling companions said he’d try to get some work done on some of the teeth to learn more about them.
It was an interesting visit, but there is no information on this cave apart from what you are told, although I’m sure somebody knows its true history.
Whether the cave held American POWS or not, and whether any of the teeth inside the cave belonged to any of them, needs some serious investigation.
Peter Alan Lloyd
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