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.