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Phonsavan - Plain of Jars and MAG

LAOS | Saturday, 15 December 2012 | Views [2293]

We reluctantly leave Luang Prabang on the 28th November and head to the town of Phonsavan.  After an eventful journey on scenic, mountainous roads, only having to stop twice to tighten the wheel nuts on the mini van! we arrive in the dreary looking town.

We find a (overpriced) room, then go in search of, a, a cheaper room and b, some supper.  We literally walk 20 metres down the lane and find a brand new guest house, for nearly half the price (4 quid), so book ourselves in here for tomorrow night.

We walk into the town and see a shop called MAG (this gets our attention, as one of our dearest friends is called Mags!), but this is the British 'Mines Advisory Group'. They raise awareness of the 1964-73 American bombing campaign on Laos. They have been helping (and training locals) in the clearance of bombs since 1994.  We enter and are very shocked to see, and read what has happened in Laos, in our lifetime.  I'm possibly going to bore you now, but we found this to be more interesting than the Plain of Jars it's self,  (which is really the only thing you come to Phonsavan to see).

The beautiful countryside of Laos, is the mostly heavily bombed country in the world, ever!  It is still littered with UXO (Unexploded ordnance) of the worst kind. Anti-personnel mostly and some big bombs.  Both are still killing and maiming locals, as they go about their daily routines. Mainly farmers working the fields and children.  As the soil washes away, the bombs surface.  To the kids, the 'bombies' look like a toy or a round fruit, that grows locally, but they are deadly.  We watched an hour long film in the shop (that brought me to tears, I'm not ashamed to say), about how bad this war was.   The Americans dropped over 2 million tonnes of bombs, a plane load every 9 minutes, at a cost of 2.2 million dollars, - a day!  30% of these bombs never went off!  It was known as 'the secret war', as no-one else knew it was happening. All this, had a great affect on Matt & I.  Matt asked if we could join the bomb squad, but they wouldn't let us, so we bought a tee-shirt and a couple of bits and bobs from the shop, as our donation!

On Thursday we move to our cheap digs and decide to hire a scooter to visit the Plain of Jars site. There are 3 sites, but because of the recent rain, only site no. 1 was open.  The site is basically several acres of land, with very large limestone jars littered around the place. They are of 'undetermined' age (possibly 2000 years old) and are believed to be funerary urns. The site has been cleared of UXO's and white brick markers are laid out, to stop you wandering off the pathway (see photo's). 

Two nights in Phonsavan is enough, with it's drunken scooter riders and begging kids, we were glad to leave.

On another 6-7  bus journey Vang Vieng.

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