The Cave of Teeth in Laos: Was this a Vietnam-War POW Prison?

The Cave of Teeth in Laos: Was this a Vietnam-War POW Prison?

The article below is based on one at http://motorcycletourslaos.blogspot.com/. Photos reproduced by kind permission of Chris.

We set off for the Cave of Teeth, which is located in karst mountains along the Nam Pa river, north west of Luang Prabang.

More teeth inside the cave

More teeth laid out in unlabelled display cases inside the cave

It was a nice ride, with some great views.

Mountains near the Cave of Teeth

Mountains near the Cave of Teeth

When we got close to the Cave of Teeth, we had to proceed on foot.

A swaying, rickety, bamboo bridge

A swaying, rickety, bamboo bridge

First we first cross a broken bamboo bridge and then walk through a meadow, before we got to the mountain containing the cave.

Approaching the mountain

Approaching the mountain

Then we had a hot, steep climb, ahead of us.

The ascent to the cave

The ascent to the cave

Hot as the ascent was, when we actually got into the cave  it was even hotter.

The entrance to the cave

The entrance to the cave

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.

Some of the many teeth in the display cabinets.

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.

Inside the cave

Inside the cave

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.

One of the many unexplored passageways

One of the many unexplored dark passageways

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.

Any ideas? Part of a military uniform?

Metal object recovered from the cave

One of my travelling companions said he’d try to get some work done on some of the teeth to learn more about them.

COT12

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.

Sign for the cave - pointing the wrong way....

Sign for the cave – pointing the wrong way….

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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