THE WORLD AROUND US
 
A Meditative Visit to Fascinating Caves of Laos (In Lao)      
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Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Lao and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings, noble viewers. Today on The World Around Us, we travel to the beautiful Laos in Southeast Asia. Laos is known as the Land of a Million Elephants, a name that comes from the time of the ancient kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to 18th century. Vientiane is the capital of Laos and is located along the Mekong River, which is one of the world’s longest rivers.

Our journey today starts with the magnificent Pak Ou Caves located at the intersection of the Ou and Mekong rivers, in north central Laos. The Pak Ou Caves are comprised of a lower cave called Tham Ting and an upper cave called Tham Theung. They are carved into the limestone cliff overlooking the river. These caves are noted for the thousands of Buddha statues that adorn them inside.

The lower cave, Tham Ting, is smaller. It lets light in and offers the best views of the river. There is a path by the side of the cliff leading to the upper cave, which is darker but holds the majority of the Buddha statues. Some are reclining, some are standing, and still others are sitting in meditation. It is said that these Buddha images have been left at the caves by the local townsfolk over many centuries. In the beginning before the spread of Buddhism, the caves were used for the worship of river spirits.

Halo. Okay, so, welcome to Tham Ting or Tham Ting Cave. The days before the Lao people, we believe in nature or the spirit, the ghost. That time, we are not Buddhists, so most of the people, they have to respect the spirit or the ghost. The cave is located in the Pak Ou District. On the right-hand side is the Nam Ou River, or the end of Nam Ou River. So they give the name of Tham Ting, that’s the Pak Ou Cave.

And normally, this cave, many people, they travel by the boat, so they have to stop here for a short rest, for paying respect to the spirits or the ghosts, and the safety for the boat when they have to go upstream or downstream. So, this cave, they founded in the 15th century by the King Setthathirath. They’ve got lots of the Buddha statues in the cave. There’s a total of 4,000 Buddhas in the cave.

The Tham Ting is very nice. It’s by the side of the river and lots of the mountains are around the cave. The general view is very nice. The days before, there was a monk and he lived at this cave, not the lower cave, just upper cave, for meditation. Just only him alone to live in the cave to make meditation by himself. And then he just left.

And then some people, they come to this cave. And some of the people around here, they bring some Buddha statues for respect in the cave with them. And then they just went back and then they didn’t bring the Buddhas back. They left the Buddhas in the cave here.

The passages and shelves of the caves are lined by these serene-looking Buddha statues. We cannot help but feel in awe of them as we make our way through the cave. The calm beauty and stillness of the Pak Ou caves attract tourists from all over the world. The devotion of the people who lived here has been so deep and intense that it has led to the accumulation of thousands of Buddha statues in these caves. Thus, the caves have been transformed into a grand temple.

The Tham Chang Cave is yet another beautiful cave in Laos. This cave is located in the area of Vang Vieng, which is a riverside town in central Laos. The cave of Tham Chang provides a majestic view over the city’s green fields, lush mountains, and the Nam Song River.

This cave was used as a refuge in the 19th century, and thus was named Tham Chang. Tham means cave and Chang means loyal or steadfast. It is possible to swim deep into this cave from a mountain spring which leads right into it. Let’s take a tour of this cave now.

Here is the Tham Chang Cave of Vang Vieng city. Concerning this renovation, there are two junctions.

The first one goes to a meditation room. The second one goes to the inside of the cave. Inside the cave, there are lots of carved rock sculptures. We go up there and we will know about the real story, such as of the rock carvings of jungle monks getting alms. Now we talk about the stairs: there are 147 steps in this cave. And inside this cave there are many kinds of rock sculptures such as the Quan Yin statue. Jungle monks getting alms, or it could be called the grandfather and the grandmother.

Next to it are the “ten thousand and thousand bank notes” trees, and stalactite rock scintillating like diamonds. In the second room is a jungle monk’s armchair, then a white elephant with jasper tusks, a toad king, and a fan blowing wind through chalky rock. All are made from limestone. And the last one is a cymbal of copper. We can knock it with our hand, and it sounds: mooing! mooing! The next room has no light. The left side junction, still two kilometers remain to get out of this cave.

Now we turn to the left side of the junction. From the left side of the junction, there will be a statue of an elephant with 3 heads, statuette of Miss Manola, statuette of a camel, jungle monks getting alms, monks getting alms and in retreat there since 100 or 1,000 years ago. This room is 3 kilometers long, and 10 meters wide. Inside the cave there is a long hole through the ceiling, one needs light to enter. Without light, one cannot get inside.

A lot of tourists prefer to come to visit Tham Chang Cave due to the availability of electricity inside the cave, and also they like to swim here in the cool water.

This concludes our program exploring the fascinating caves of Laos. May visitors continue to come and admire their splendor and peaceful meditative ambience.

Gracious viewers, thank you for your company today. Coming up next is Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News, on Supreme Master Television. May Heaven bless you with a peace in your heart.

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