How People Survived The Secret War In Laos: by living in a cave for NINE years.

How People Survived The Secret War In Laos: by living in a cave for NINE years.

Above Photo – these two old ladies spent nine years of their early lives hiding out in a cave, with the rest of their village, too scared to go back to Tchepone, until the Vietnam War had ended.

Six kilometers from the modern town of Sepon are the ruins of wartime Tchepone, bombed into oblivion during the Vietnam War.

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This is an old US Army map on which I’ve marked the new town of Sepon (in red circle), the destroyed bridge over the Sepon River (blue circle) and the old town of Tchepone, where these photos were taken (in green circle).

Old Tchepone is reached down a dirt road lined with large stands of bamboo and hardwoods, with cattle and buffalo lazily meandering .in front of you.

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The bullet-riddled wall of the old Tchepone temple.

On entered the the old village, one of the first sights is the bullet-scarred wall of an old Wat, which had subsequently been destroyed by bombing.

A B-52 bomb crater behind Tchepone's school. Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war tchepone sepon route 9 vietnam war US bombing caves

An enormous B-52 bomb crater behind Tchepone’s school.

The grounds of the temple were pock-marked with bomb craters and a short walk away, just behind the new school house, there was one of the biggest bomb craters I’ve ever seen.

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All that’s left of the old bank in Tchepone. A reinforced brick bank vault.

Across the river lay the limestone mountains that had been the target of heavy US bombing, as it was believed (rightly) that the North Vietnamese Army were holed up in caves honeycombing the limestone.

The Sepon River MIA A Greater Evil film BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle unexploded ordnance laos wartime relics jungle tchepone sepon route 9 vietnam war US bombing caves

The Sepon River, looking towards Sepon.

It was an extraordinarily tranquil place, and it was difficult to imagine the violence visited on the town and its people, which had been brought about by Tchepone lying on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and close to Vietnamese border. It was also used as a major North Vietnamese Army logistics base for much of the war.

BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle unexploded ordnance laos wartime relics jungle tchepone sepon route 9 vietnam war US bombing caves sepon rive

Mountains across the Sepon river, looking east towards Vietnam.

We stopped at the town’s new temple and watched monks having lunch with some villagers.

I took the opportunity to speak to the two old ladies pictured above, who had survived the war by taking refuge in caves in the mountains for nine years, before returning to reclaim their old town from the jungle after the war had ended.

They remembered the noise and shock waves of bombs and artillery falling around them as they hid in the caves, and then long periods of total boredom, missing their homes and wishing to go back, but knowing they’d quickly be killed if they did.

After the war had ended, they returned to the village but said many people had been killed and had lost limbs in clearing away jungle that was littered with unexploded ordnance. It has never been fully cleared, and we were warned not to walk off the paths in the areas outside the village.

Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war tchepone sepon route 9 vietnam war US bombing caves sepon river bridge bombing by US planes

The destroyed bridge crossing the river Sepon at the point shown in the blue circle on the above map.

Luckily, the building of new Sepon means old Tchepone can now rest in peace, away from the new daily ‘rolling thunder’ being visited on Laos: the sound of log-laden trucks speeding back towards Vietnam carrying the Laotian jungle away with them.

For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War, POWs/MIAs and Adventure Backpackers trekking into the war-ravaged jungles of Asia, see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/

For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:

See also: http://peteralanlloyd.com/general-news/sepons-bridge-destroyed-by-b-52s-during-the-secret-war-in-laos/

And: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpacking-in-laos-savannakhet-to-sepon-along-bone-shaking-route-9/

And: http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/remnants-of-the-secret-war-in-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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.lloyd.94064?fref=ts

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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