Blogs from East, Laos, Asia - page 5

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Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan October 28th 2010

28th Oct: I woke up early and went out to grab a sandwich for the bus journey. Got back to the hostel to find that the tuk-tuk driver had turned up early at 7:20 am. That's gotta be a first! Got to the bus station and got talking to Frannie, whilst smoking and waiting for the bus to leave. Once again, smokers unite. The bus journey was long and pretty uneventful. Was a bit annoyed as we passed through a town with shops and restauarnats and then another rest stop where they had toilets and stall to buy baguettes from. But we stopped at the side of the road and were told to pee in the bushes, charming! Needless to say I held on. We stopped further along for a lunch break, had this lovely Lao ... read more
The Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan October 5th 2010

The East of Laos is a bleak place. Gentle hills replace the mountains of the north and the jungles are succeeded by somber grass land. Xieng Khouang province has a cool climate and a regular drizzle makes the landscape even more grey. Xieng Khouang is quoted as one of the poorest areas of the country, which considering the rest of Laos, implies severe poverty. This is in part due to the fact that it was one of the worst hit areas in the 'secret war', a not so secret by-product of the Vietnam war. Laos was never really supposed to get involved in the Vietnam war but now, bombs for people, it is the most heavily bombed country in history. In 1954, when relations between the USA and South East Asia were starting to strain, Laos ... read more
Leftovers from the secret war
Jar site 1
Land mine clearence around the plains of jars

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan August 29th 2010

Hello!! Just arrived alive in Phonsavanh! Yesterday we got the bus from Vientiane to Vang Vien. We were hoping to catch the local bus but missed it by about 5 mins, and then had a bizarre exchange with some friendly tuk tuk/bus drivers before being driven off to the 'VIP' bus. Very Important People being scruffy travellers (no Laos people, which is apparently meant to be a good thing *insert question mark as can't find it on keyboard*) and the bus contained an assortment of all the typical travelling stereotypes - dreadlocked and bearded scruffies, aging hippies etc. I was sitting next to an emaciated, long haired boy with his guitar. The journey was fine. The scenary became increasingly beautiful as we left the sprawling green (and admittedly quite pretty!) 'suburbs' of Vientiane. Amazing limestone hills ... read more

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan August 13th 2010

So it wasn't quite one day. Nobody had expected what the roads would be like. We should have known better really. I mean the steep and winding road from the border to Xam Nuea made for an interesting ride, but this. This was something different altogether. It was a beautiful day for riding. Sunny, with a bit of cloud cover. We started relatively early and it was already warm enough that you didn't need a jacket. It has been quite cold at night and in the mornings the last few days as we are high up in the mountains. I would love to tell the exact elevation, but we have not even been able to get a map of Laos yet. We probably should have bought on in Vietnam, but we didn't really think about it. ... read more
Thom Pa
Jars Site 1 (3)
Falls

Asia » Laos » East » Plain of Jars August 12th 2010

Thursday, 12th August Now then. Bus journeys. Usually uneventful and usually no-one gives a sh*t so I just gloss over them. Today's was testament to the absolute ineptitude of the South East Asian transport system so far it would be a complete injustice to every other transportation system in the Universe (including the cross Saturn X34 route) to not document it. It started early (as always), 20 minutes before scheduled. No I will not get on the bus in just a towel Mr. Busman. Waiting on the bus for us to show up was an Israeli girl with no ticket and was bullied onto this minibus in the greatest miscommunication since sitcoms were banned from mocking deaf people. She had a ticket for a real bus in 45 minutes, and the bus station is not close ... read more
Unexploded ordnance warning!!!
Jar site 2
Jars covered in bullet holes

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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 » Phonsavan July 14th 2010

Uz nekolikrat jsme se pokouseli pridat na nas blog nejake fotky z poslednich etap, ale bohuzel rychlost / pomalost mistniho internetu nam to nedovoluje. Budeme to dal zkouset. Pondeli jsme opet stravili v autobuse na presunu mezi Luang Prabangem a Phonsavanem. Tato cesta spise pripominala horskou drahu, ale videli jsme, podle Lonely Planet, nejake omracujici scenerie. Phonsavan sam o sobe neni vubec nicim zajimavy, ale v jeho okoli se nachazeji tzv. Plane dzbanu. Jak jiz nazev napovida, jedna se o plane s desitkami kamennych dzbanu, z nichz nejvetsi vazi asi tunu. Kvuli absenci jakehokoliv organickeho materialu {tudiz radioaktivniho uhliku} je pomerne obtizne urcit jejich stari. Odhaduje se, ze jsou stare zhruba 3000 let a puvodne slouzily k pohrebnim ucelum. Ale mistni legenda pravi jinak: rika se, ze kdysi davno je nechal vyrobit mistni kral a na ... read more
Plan dzbanu / Plain of Jars
Plan dzbanu / Plain of Jars
Plan dzbanu / Plain of Jars

Asia » Laos » East » Xiangkhoang June 11th 2010

The bus to Laos left Sapa early and was to take about 10 hours. I hadn't slept well the night before, so I figured I could catch a few hours on the ride to Laos. Boy was I wrong. I've been on rough bus rides before, but this one was comically brutal. I also had a seat behind the rear wheels which means that we got an extra spring on every bump in the road. The road was the worst I've seen, yet that will soon not be the case. On the entire journey from Sapa to the Laos border you could see a modern road under construction several hundred feet up and back on the mountain. Staggeringly large amounts of concrete had been poured to retain the terrace needed to support the road, and bridges ... read more
Baking Roadside
another valley view
New bridge

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan June 7th 2010

May 28 Travel over the mountains to Phonsavanh in a minivan driven by a lunatic in charge of a child that retched every half hour or so. My stomach was unsettled, but everyone felt ill at the end of this 6-hour drive, although the scenery was stunning - mountains as far as you could see. Impossible to do anything much with country like this, but beautiful. Villages were mainly poor, with huts, dogs, chickens and children running about. The five of us travelling together all had headaches and wanted to arrive as soon as possible. As we arrived in Phonsavanh the landscape flattened and immediately became more affluent. The town itself is no major attraction. With one main street lined with functional, concrete buildings, Phonsavanh is an architectural slop bowl of a settlement, with dingy, overpriced ... read more

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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