Secret War History – Hidden Inside Caves in Laos.

Secret War History – Hidden Inside Caves in Laos.

Above Photo: The steep steps up to a secret Communist Administrative cave in Nong Khiaw, Laos.

On a recent BACK-related research trip into northern Laos, I set off on a 2km walk along the road leading out of a small village called Nong Khiaw. I then crossed open, shade-less countryside, forded a stream and walked through rice paddies, heading towards an important cave from the Secret War in Laos.

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Karst mountains overlooking Nong Khiaw.

From this cave the Communist regional government (the Pathet Laos, who were being helped by the North Vietnamese Army) hid out during the Vietnam War, relatively safe from US air attack and sufficiently remote and well-defended so as not to have been dislodged by the US-backed Lao forces.

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A sign for Pathok Cave.

It was in the same mountain as the bank cave (see link below) and was protected by the same handily positioned mountain in front of it, which made frontal air attacks very difficult and dangerous for US pilots.

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An Anti-Aircraft Mountain, protecting the cave from low-level, frontal air attack.

On arrival, I climbed up a steep modern ladder, although the cave was accessed more precariously by a bamboo ladder during the Vietnam War.

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A steep climb to the Nong Khiaw cave.

I noticed the cave had been burned at the entrance, from napalm and incendiary attacks, so some US planes had hit the cave, regardless of the ‘anti-aircraft mountain’s’ presence.

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Looking back to the cave entrance from its blast defences.

Entering the cave I could see the remains of bamboo and sandbag defences.

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The remains of bamboo and sandbag defences inside the cave.

Also, earth and bamboo-protected bunkers where the Governor and Assistant Governor operated from were still visible.

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More defences. With these simple signs it was already shaping up to be the most well-documented cave of the trip – although that wasn’t difficult.

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This was the top of a bunker from where the Governor and Assistant Governor ran the local Communist areas of Luang Prabang, Laos.

I made my way through the cave, which was quite large compared to the others I’d recently been in.

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A view into the Nong Khiaw cave.

However, it came to a dead, steep and dangerous end where the floor had collapsed far below me, so I turned back and made my way out, disturbing a colony of bats in one of the small chambers I explored.

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Part of the original bamboo ladder that gave access to the cave.

Other than a few simple blue signs, there was little in the way of explanation inside the cave, and again it made me think that the government of Laos needs to take urgent steps to ensure their oral wartime history isn’t lost completely in the next few years, as people with knowledge of these important military sites die off.

For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War and Adventure Backpackers trekking into the war-ravaged jungles of Asia, see news of our latest film, MIA A Greater Evil: http://peteralanlloyd.com/mia-a-greater-evil-an-exclusive-introduction-to-our-forthcoming-film/

For POWs left behind in Laos, see:

See also: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-1/caves-in-laos-what-evidence-or-messages-might-they-contain-from-pows/

http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-1/an-eyewitness-recalls-b-52-bombings-in-laos-tham-pha-buddha-cave/

http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-1/a-visit-to-the-mysterious-cave-of-teeth-in-laos/

And: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-1/visiting-a-secret-war-bank-in-a-cave-in-laos/

Approximate location of Muang Noi, northern Laos

Approximate location of Nong Khiaw, northern Laos

© Peter Alan Lloyd

Reviews: Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews 

UK: Amazon.co.uk: BACK Parts 1 and 2 

US: Amazon: Back Parts 1 and 2

Smashwords: Back Parts 1 and 2

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Website: www.peteralanlloyd.com

Twitter: @PeterAlanLloyd

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2

Front cover of BACK Part 2

 

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1 Comment

  1. Manuel "Muri" M.

    Hey Peter, splendid blog you’re writing for. I’m just in Laos right now and some of your blog posts are indeed very inspiring for a history buff like me. Thank you for “travel tips”!

    Today I’ve just been to this very cave in Nong Khiaw only to discover that there is a much more interesting one a few kilometers upstream the Ou River. It was much more deeper and obscure than the Pathok cave (and really not suitable for claustrophobics I guess). The Pathet Lao seemed to have there like a propaganda cinema along with some communication installments and “meeting rooms”.

    Reply

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