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Published: August 2nd 2012
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 guy translating for us. I got to use a proper toilet, well a squat. I bought some biccies from the woman's shop to say thank you. The bus journey took about 7 hours and was pretty uneventful, i.e. we didn't break down.
When we arrived at Phonsavan bus station, some bloke piled us all in a mini van and took us into the
town. We looked at a couple of guesthouses. Me and Frannie opted for the cheaper more basic one, at $5 a night. The more expensive one stunk of damp. Then we booked our Plain of Jars tour for the next day and I also booked my bus ticket to Vietnam. Since there was no bus leaving the day after the tour, I would have to hang around in Phonsavan for an extra day.
It's bloody freezing here and I don't have any warm clothes. So I was layering up with all the clothes I had: leggings, linen pants, vest top, t-shirt, and then long sleeve shirt over the top, plus socks and trainers. Me and Frannie went and got some dinner, pretty non desript. Then I ventured out for a wander around town, found a nice little cafe and had a hot chocolate to warm myself up. Also went and had a beer after the hot chocolate to see if that would help. Phonsavan is a pretty sleepy little town and nothing was really happening, so I went back to the guesthouse around 10 and watched a little tv before heading to bed.
29th Oct: Up early, showered,
had brekky and then we got picked up around 9 to go and visit the Plain of Jars. Our first port of call was the tourist information office, where there were some displays about the Jar Sites and other stuff. The Plain of Jars is a 15 kilometre stretch of land around Phonsavan, which is scattered with these mysterious jars. There are also more jars scattered further around the Xiang Khouang province and there are about 90 jar sites, holding between one and 400 jars. The largest jar is 2 meters high and the jars can weigh upto 10 tonnes. Little is known about the people who made the jars or the reason why they were made. The most popular theory is that the jars were funerary urns.
We drove to the first jar site, Thong Hai Hin, which is only a couple of kilometers from town. This site is pretty big and contains over 200 jars. First we walked up to Hai Cheaum, which is a two metre high jar, and then we wandered around some of the jars nearby to it. We saw one that had a human-like shape carved onto it. Next we went to a
cave, which was used by the Pathet Laos during the war. Also according to local folklore the cave was used as a kiln to mahe the jars. There are two holes in the roof of the cave, which have been caused by erosion and these would have acted as natural chimneys, helping to support the kiln theory. Another theory is that the cave was used as a crematorium. We had a good wander around the site, as it is pretty big and also saw lots of bomb craters from the war. It is pretty impressive to think that people made all these jars thousands of years ago, without modern technology and were able to transport them.
We stopped for lunch, chicken noodle soup, at a small restaurant next to Wat Xiang Di, a simple wooden moastery. After lunch we went and visited the third jar site. I really enjoyed the third jar site, Hai Hin Lat Khai, as you walked through the rice fields to get there. It was really pretty and peaceful, with great views of the surrounding countryside.
On our drive to the second jar site, we were lucky enough to stop and watch some people
On the red side there are landimnes. The white side is safe. Phonsavan
blow up some landmines. They were in a field next to some small houses and they had identified a quite a few landmines in the field. They let us stay and watch the process, but we weren't allowed to take any photos of the landmines going off, as they thought it would bring them bad publicity, eventhough they were filming it themselves. It was pretty cool to watch, but very loud. The second jar site, Hai Hin Phou Salato is based on two adjacent hills. It was a nice walk up the hill and the scenery was very pretty.
On the way back to town we stopped at a whiskey village and had a couple of shots of Lao Lao, one guy was really hammering it, and must of had 6 or 7 shots. I would of been mortal if that was me. Back in town I went for a coffee, I need my caffiene fix, and then meet up with Frannie and we took a walk down to the market. I bought a new pair of flip flops as mine broke on the way down to the market. We went back to our guesthouse and got some dinner.
The Plain of Jars, Phonsavan
The family, who run our guesthouse, have a stall outside where they sell general stuff, but they also have a rotisserie. We bought a roasted duck and some beers off them, and some rice from the restaurant next door. We sat outside the guesthouse on one of the picnic tables, and I had one of the best meals I've had my whole time in Lao, simple and delicious. Also great company, as the owner of the guesthouse joined us and told us about his family, and the Hmong people, who live in this area.
30th Oct: A pretty boring day, as there isn't much to do in Phonsavan. I got up around 8 and went for breakfast at the cafe next door. Fried eggs and bread, again! I went to the UXO survivors centre, very interesting. Then I decided to go and visit the old cemetry, which is up on a hill overlooking the town. However this was not meant to be as I couldn't figure out how to get up to the hill. So I just took a wander along the road heading out of town for a while.
I walked back to town and went to
Craters for a fruit shake. Got talking to a lad in there, who had met Ian in Vang Vieng. It's a small world. I went bac kto the hostel and took a shower. It's too cold, first thing in the morning. I headed over to the MAG information centre for a look around. They do some great work. Met up with Frannie later and we went for some dinner. Had a final beer Lao, before our early departure tomorrow.
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