Blogs from Vieng Xai, East, Laos, Asia

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Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai November 1st 2012

Wow. Laos saved the best for last for me. For my last night in the country, I made the short trip eastwards towards Vieng Xai, en route to the border crossing into Vietnam. On the surface it doesn't look it at all, but this little idyllic and picturesque village was the site of the heaviest bombing that Laos suffered during the Secret War. It is also the site of the labyrinth of caves that housed members of the revolutionary Pathet Lao, including their Politburo members, as well as the community that built and rallied around their cause. The superlatives escape me, but the landscape here is simply so beautiful that it's absolutely gut-wrenching thinking about the horrors that occurred not so long ago, and the years of suffering that had to be endured by a people ... read more
Vieng Xai
Sailomyen Guesthouse
Vieng Xai

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai June 14th 2011

The bus to Vieng Xay was short and sweet, we arrived early and headed off to find a hotel and settled on somewhere cheap but a little grotty. The scenery outside our window, however, made up for this. As we only planned to spend a day here we found somewhere to eat before heading to the caves. These caves are where the Pathet Lao hid during the secret war and the area was bombed hard. People had to stay in the caves during the day and farm and travel at night to avoid being seen. We heard about some truly horrible things the Americans’ did here, but were amazed at how the Lao people had created a ‘cave town’ here. We cycled round the caves with our guide who spoke little English but was nice enough ... read more
Untouched
Rice fields
Kaysone Phomnivanh's house

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai August 6th 2010

I have been trying to get to Laos now for my last couple of trips to SEA but never seemed to quite make it. Well not anymore, I am finally here. To my dear mother, you might not want to read the first couple of paragraphs here. To continue where we left off.... So it is now dark and we have to drive 65km more to the closest town. Of course before we can finish crossing through the Laos side of the border it starts to rain. We are now driving through the middle of nowhere, in pitch black, in the rain, with not much gas and no map. Hmmm... I hope this ends well. I am driving in the dark for all of ten minutes when my head light makes a loud pop and turns ... read more
Looking out the Window
Road to Town
Our Room

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai June 6th 2010

Between 1964 and 1973 the U.S.A. dropped more bombs on Laos than the allied forces dropped on Europe during the entirety of The Second World War. This fact has been reiterated throughout the duration of our visit to Laos but it is not until we took a rather grueling bus journey East of Luang Prabang and heading towards the Vietnam border that we really saw any visible evidence of the ‘secret war’ that was waged for nine years in this quaint land locked nation. The nine year bombing campaign against Laos was deemed necessary for two reasons. Firstly, eastern Laos functioned as a conduit for Viet Cong arms and supplies heading into South Vietnam in the form of the Ho Chi Minh trail. In this respect the theater of the Vietnam War hemorrhaged west into Laos. ... read more
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Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai January 29th 2010

It was cold enough here to see my breath this morning. There was thick fog covering the surrounding karsts, and I could hear loud music down the street, but there was little action in view of the guesthouse, which was a charming series of bungalows, each composed of one room and a bathroom. I walked over to the restaurant, clearly affiliated with the guesthouse as they were situated together upon the same driveway. I ordered some coffee from a woman hanging around, and as is the norm around here in smaller towns, received hot water with a ‘3 in 1’ coffee packet dumped in, the packet containing a powdery mix of milk, sugar and coffee. The packets are surprisingly tasty. I exchanged good morning pleasantries with the man who worked at the Tourist and Caves Office, ... read more
Downtown Vieng Xay now
Prince Souvanaphom
Cave Entrance

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Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai January 28th 2010

This morning we set off by rented car with driver for Vieng Xay, the original headquarters of the Pathet Lao, Laos’ current ruling Communist regime. During the war, the Pathet Lao and the local civilians moved in to approximately 500 caves in the Vieng Xay area, to escape the relentless US bombing. It was these caves, now open to the public, with audio tours, that we were going to see. Mr. Khem was a superb driver, driving slowly and beeping every single time he drove around a blind corner, which was every 3 or 4 minutes. From 7 AM until 8 PM, we drove through the mountains, being tossed to the right and the left each time we went around another sharp corner. We were blessed that the road was paved, but it was slender and ... read more
Gorgeous Views near Vieng Xay
A Broken Down Bus aside the Field
Watercress Field enroute

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai January 10th 2010

photos on the road to Viengxai, the Patheot Laos caves and then leaving and heading out to the Vietnamese border... read more
On the road in Laos!
On the road in Laos!
On the road in Laos!

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai June 29th 2009

Day 363: Saturday 27th June - The hidden city of the Pathet Lao during the Secret War The bus pulls into Sam Neua bus station at 2:30am. I spend the next 3 hours trying to get some sleep on the cold concrete floor in the bus station. Oh how times change! When I do wake up I try to fathom out the next stage in the journey. I want to visit Vieng Xai, which was the Pathet Lao hideout during the Secret War. It is a 40 minute journey from Sam Neua. Is it best to stay in Sam Neua and do a day trip or travel on to Vieng Xai? I choose the latter, based on the descriptions in the guide of the respective towns but I can’t manage to find someone in the bus ... read more
1. Rice paddies in the valley below - the view from Sam Neua bus station
6. Kaysone Phomvihane's study, Vieng Xai
10. Entrance to Nouhak Phoumsavan's cave, Vieng Xai

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai June 28th 2009

The Road of a Thousand Turns Heading to the Western border of Laos, Lee and I experienced road travel for the first time since entering this country. Loading into a small bus crammed with bags of grain, caged chickens, and staring locals we mentally prepared ourselves for the long 8 hour trip ahead of us to Sam Nuea. We were the only white people onboard, and the unblinking fascination of the other passengers made me feel as though I must be a recognized celebrity in this part of the world. Perhaps my pseudo-identity of Jenny Lopez is beginning to precede me. Rambling out of town, we began climbing up the winding roads of the surrounding mountainside. I start up a mumbled chant of “I think we can, I think we can” to encourage the rundown bus ... read more
Beautiful karsts
Floating Guesthouse
View from our lakeside restaurant

Asia » Laos » East » Vieng Xai May 1st 2009

Time to leave Vietnam! After the hectic and sometimes stressful time we had, we don't think it is too soon either. We therefore board an early morning bus from Hue to cross the border at Lao Bao - the easiest border crossing from Vietnam to Laos. We have heard many horror stories regarding land crossing between those two countries but this one goes without a glitch. Sure, the bus is old, not AC-ed and a little dear but the sight of the conductor seating in a plastic garden chair carefully balanced in the bus corridor alongside the driver makes up for this inconvenience - precarious but funny. Arriving to Lao Bao border, and after much confusion regarding the cost of of a 30-day Laos visa, the immigration officer produces a price sheet that appears "official" and ... read more
Clay pot on the river
Garden chair in the bus
Patuxai




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