Published: December 12th 2009December 6th 2009
Phonsavan is approximately 6 hours drive from Vang Vieng up Route 13 then it is a right at Muang Phu Khodir onto Route 7. As you travel north on Route 13 you travel through some stunning scenery, the mountains are beautiful, the roads follow windy routes around the hills and through tiny little villages that populate along the sides of the road, there appears to be large aid projects funded by Australian Government and UNICEF to provide water, which is pumped up from the stream way below. There are centralised water points where the locals shower next to the road and thier house stand precariously on the edge of the hill raised up by stilts. As we passed through the villages you notice chaps loitering along the roadside and at what appears to be entry and exit points of the villages holding AK-47 assault rifles, as we proceeded further along the route these rifle toting chaps become more prevalent. We don’t know why they are there or what they are protecting, according to our guide book there are numerous no-go areas, old US CIA bases that may now be used by the Lao authorities or perhaps they are protecting opium fields,
whatever the reason, they weren’t interested in us tourists!
We arrived in Phonsavan at 16:00 and checked into Nice Guesthouse which was’ what it says on the tin’ - Nice! It had a largish room, clean and had a TV with English language movie channels which turned out to be a blessing as the place pretty much closes down around 9pm for 80,000 Kip per night, oh and scorching hot water…bliss as the nights are soooo cold in this part of Laos at this time of the year!!!! The bars and restaurants were predominately outdoors and once the sun went down it got bloody cold, T was wearing Jeans and a fleece! The South East Asian (SEA) 25th Games was taking place in Vientiane - we missed them as we moved north before they started, but T caught a football games between Laos and Myanmar, the bar was packed full of locals cheering on their side, it was fun to watch, T enjoying the atmosphere and a cold beer whilst G was in bed trying to get warm whilst watching a movie.
The following day we took a trip out to see the Plain of Jar’s; this is
rather interesting and is a place that no one can give an accurate answer as to why they are there. The Jars are solid stone creations some made from granite others from molasse which is similar to sandstone. There are many theories as to what they were used for such as: wine fermenters or possibly for rice storage, the jars have lids too, most have been destroyed, some have remained on top of the jars but for the most they are scattered around the floor in varying conditions. The Jars are believed to be around 2,000 years old however, it’s near impossible to validate due to the lack of organic matter in which archaeologist’s can use to determine an age.
During the second Indochina War, Laos was bombed heavily in the south as the US tried to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail, but what is less known is that the US bombed Northern Laos to try and fail as usual to stifle the Laos communist party from taking hold of the country which they did in 1975. As a result of US systematic bombing Laos is the most bombed country in the world. The Plain of Jars was
a particular victim of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), and as with all things horrible it’s the poor that suffer the most, farmers have suffered terribly by ploughing their land and striking the UXO and losing limbs or their life. According to the British charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG) there was half a tonne of Ordnance dropped per person in the country at that time and roughly 30% remained unexploded.
When walking around the Plain of Jars MAG have signs on the floor half red the other half white as you can see in the photograph, the white side has been cleared of all UXO and is safe to walk, the red side has been visually cleared but not sub-surface, so you are best to keep to the path between the white signs.
The Plain of Jars has three sites unsurprisingly known as ‘Plain of Jars site 1, 2 and 3'. Site 1 is the bigger one containing 250 jars with some Jars weighing in at 600kg - which poses the question how did they get here? It is akin to ponderies of Stonehenge in England. T thinks that the Plain of Jars looks like the big friendly giant and
his chums have had a massive piss up and have left their empty beer tankers all over the place.
All in all the Plain of Jars is an interesting place to visit, one of those unexplained occurrences.
Along the way from site one to two we passed local villages with the children/teenagers all dressed up in their tribe/local dress throwing tennis balls at each other. Apparently they do this to show they are out looking for a boyfriend, the boys who are looking for a girlfriend are all dress up in their suites, looking very smart indeed. They also come out and just do it for fun if they’re too young to be on the market. We thought it looked a bit tedious to us throwing a tennis ball back and forth, we much prefer our way of showing we’re out looking for a fella/missus…Going out into town and getting drunk he he!!!! We also stopped at a Lao Lao Whiskey making home where T got to try the country’s finest which once again G stayed well clear of!!!
That night was spent eating in the only indoor restaurant in Phonsavan called Craters which served fantastic faire,
a few beers were consumed. For the next day was to be a long 8 hour journey to Luang Prabang.
There are more photos below