Published: June 26th 2012January 31st 2012
Plain of Jars
Breakfast was included at the White Orchid Guest House. It consisted of eggs, toast, jam, tea and coffee. It was quite filling but again the bread was the thin sweet white bread found all over South East Asia and the coffee you could stand a spoon up in.
After breakfast Stephen and I along with our new German friend set off with our friendly Hmong Tour Guide who had also become our driver as none other was available. We headed off to the Plain of Jars and started with Jar site 3. It is not the largest number of jars but was certainly a great introduction to the rest of the days activities. The trip out was very pleasant through the Lao countryside but it was also very dusty.
On the way back we passed a MAG team at work just near some local houses. The next day we would see why these local teams of bomb disposal experts were so necessary. Not far from where the MAG team were doing their work was an old Russian Tank. The local people had stripped it of every piece of metal that was possible to carry away. The only thing remaining
MAG hard at work
was a shell obviously too heavy to move. It had found a new purpose as some chickens had taken up residence.
Next stop was Jar site 2. Smaller again then Jar Site 3 but it had spectacularly tall jars. Here we saw one of the supposed 'lids'. They would have been way to heavy for any person to lift unless they really were giants. Our guide explained that a more likely use was a grave marker and as it had what appeared to be an image of a person on it right where a handle would be it seemed a plausible explanation. The idea that the jars were used for burial or at least some of the time is that the remains of human bones have been found in some of them. There were some pretty incredible views from up here over the surrounding valley.
It was all very sad when you think that most of that farm able land you could see was not cleared of unexploded ordnance and the farmers, their families including children, risk their lives daily in just providing food for their tables. There are a lot victims of this unexploded ordnance, many of
Bombed Buddha - Old Xieng Khuoaung
them just children. Without being too political some countries have neglected their responsibilities in the clearing of this ordnance and have left the task to organisation such as MAG to give these people some safety in their lives.
Not only were there wonderful examples of the stone jars but there were many large bomb craters. Left over reminders of the United States bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War...hmmm. These bomb craters were a familiar site all around Xieng Khoaung Province.
Lunch was had in a local town at a local restaurant. Fried rice or soup are always easy things to order and always tasty.
After lunch last stop of the day was the old city of Xieng Khoaung. This was originally the capital of Xieng Khoaung province, and people still live here, but it too was bombed during the United State's secret war in Laos during the Vietnam years. Left behind are the ruins of the hospital, a buddhist temple and a few other buildings. The history of the area is very interesting as there were also stories about raids for the kings treasure during the days of its former glory. This was the end of our days excursions and after everything we had seen it certainly left you wondering about mans humanity or maybe inhumanity.
Dinner was had at Nisha, an Indian restaurant, down the road from our guest house. The food was reasonably priced and most importantly tasty and filling after a long days trekking about. More Plain of Jars and other sites were planned for tomorrow.