Most bombed country on earth


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Asia » Laos
July 9th 2008
Published: July 28th 2008
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Tzarina the MotorbikeTzarina the MotorbikeTzarina the Motorbike

Lili on the back of Tzarina fully loaded.
Lets tell about our times in the most bombed country in the world!(Thanks again for the kindness of USA) We left Thailand expecting a bit more adventure, since there is no challenge in traveling Thailand. (Thai is not bad, just not challenging!) Laos started a bit different. We decided to do everything on our own, we would save some money and have more exiting stories to tell. Stories about getting lost, ordering food using hand signs, avoiding scams and so on. (This is what we like on traveling!)
To begin with we didn't buy the joint ticket Bus+ferry+taxi+boat+hotel to Luang Prabang. We did one step at the time! It took us the same time and cost us 1 U$ less. Not much, but was fun!
There are two options to go to Luang Prabang by the river: The fast and the slow boat. The fast takes 6 hours in a kind of a long tail that runs as fast as a Formula 1. So dangerous that the passengers must wear helmets and there are still some lives lost every year.
The other option is the slow boat, a long and narrow boat with more than 50 passengers. It is so slow
MonksMonksMonks

They take pictures too!
that the trip takes 2 days. (This option sounds safer!!)
Knowing that we would stay two days on board, we searched for something to occupy our time while on the river. We stocked on books, sudoku, food and cards and jumped on the boat. Only to realize that while we were stocking, all the good places were taken. The only ones left were next to the engine. A big, noisy, smoky, diesel engine!!

During the first hours Fernando incredibly managed to take a nap. Claudio was checking his accounting book(Always important while crossing borders). Flavia was reading. Lili did one hundred sudoku puzzles and Malin was annoyed with the noise! In the next few hours we were all walking forth and back in the boat, looking around to see if someone had a better distraction.
The first day was short, after only 7 hours we arrived at the stop over for the night.

Before the departure we didn't believe the local guide's small talk "Everything will be full! Book the 10 dollars room with me now.", and therefore we were a bit afraid of having to sleep on the streets. When we jumped off the boat there was
Lao childrenLao childrenLao children

We joined them for a swimm!
a herd of touts trying to take us to any guest house (or selling some weed). As we didn’t book anything we could pick one very nice, for less than a dollar each! Great!

Next day we started early in order to get better places on the boat, far away from the engine!! This trip was a bit longer. Around 8 hours cruising the river, collecting passengers from the villages, discussing politics (This is a good subject because always turns into looooong conversations!) and taking pictures. Many pictures. Not only the scenario was astonishing but the people, the boat and the life on the river are very photogenic.

Finally we arrived in Luang Prabang.
This UNESCO heritage center is a small French colonial town. This we felt as soon we found, bought and feasted on wine, baguettes, and another selection of French products! Nothing better than some Camembert after so many noodle soups!
Everyday in L. Prabang, all Tuc-Tuc drivers offered to us tours to the waterfalls (and some weed too). So, second day we decided to check it out; the waterfall itself is very beautiful but the best part is to swim in the many pools formed
Slow boatSlow boatSlow boat

The smoothest road we've ever been!
by the river and cool down from the heat!
Around L.P. there is no much more to do but we stayed a few days more, updating our websites on Flavia's notebook with stolen wi-fi connection.

Our next destination was The Plain of Jars. This time we were beaten by the tour agencies. We tried hard but couldn't find a way to visit the jars by our own, cheaper than taking a tour. So we jumped on a van and enjoyed the trip!
Between bomb craters, UXOs (unexploded ordinances) and bomb shells (dropped in Laos during the Vietnam war), were amazing stone jars dating more than 3000 years. Survivals from the American carpet bombing. The exact purpose of the jars nobody knows. But they are big and heavy.
In our day tour they took us to 3 jar sites, two Russian tanks, one scrap metal deposit with piles of bomb shells and some houses build using bomb parts. Hostels have displays with dozens of hand grenades and even barbeque grills made of bombs. This area is as popular for its war history as it is for the ancient Jars.
After our bombastic tour we headed to Vang Vieng.

We
Sun shadesSun shadesSun shades

Still made of wood and paper
were curious to see Vang Vieng, we have seen hundreds of people in Thailand talking about it and wearing the "In the Tube - Vang Vieng" t-shirts.
For our surprise, the tubing capital of the world is in reality the "FRIENDS" capital of the world. Every single restaurant here plays the series the whole day long, over and over. When you know all the lines by heart, it's time to go for the tubing.
Just grab your tube and jump in the river. Every hundred meters skilled staff will fish you out of the river, put in your hands a free shot of Lao whiskey and send you to the bar. Each bar has a different attractive. Beach-volley field, giant Tarzan swing, pool table, dance floor, etc. It's all about having fun and getting really drunk or/and stoned! Joints, mushroom shakes are listed in the "happy" menu.

Nothing against who likes it, but for us the constant hassle of the sellers was quite annoying.

Hangover apart, it was time to go on. Vientiane, Laos’s capital city.
For a capital city Vientiane is pretty small. We could go everywhere walking. In the city there is not much to visit.
Water fallWater fallWater fall

You can't avoid taking this picture
What amused us is it's location in the country. I've never seen a capital city at the border!! From the river side restaurants we could see Thailand just across!
One morning we left to visit the garden of the Buddhas. We took one local bus (the ones with chickens and all) to the outskirts of Vientiane. They dropped us off just in front of the gardens. It is more impressive than we expected. Loads of Buddhists and Hindi figures in a well kept garden.
The highlight was the pumpkin-shaped building. In the inside there are lots of small entrances to dark rooms full of mythological sculptures covered in a thick layer of dust. We had to explore it under the light of head torches, what increased even more the adventure!

The day before we were supposed to leave, Claudio saw one add of a motorbike for sale. The famous Russian-made bike used in Vietnam! He couldn't hold himself, the deal was too good, and he bought the bike with Lili. In a few seconds was decided that they would drive south while Fernando, Flavia and Malin would go by the bus.

To go from Vientiane to Si Phan
Where are the travelersWhere are the travelersWhere are the travelers

The 5 of us hiding behind the 3000 years old jars.
Don Fernando (hard headed) didn't want to buy tickets in a tour agency, so he convinced the two girls to do part by part. First they took the local bus from the city center to the long distance bus station and then changed into a crowded bus, with 3 people every 2 seats, for 16 hours until Pakse. In Pakse they took another 4 hours local bus. The conductor from this last bus wanted to overcharge them and drop them off half way. Fernando had such a big argument with him that in the end the conductor hired 3 motorbikes to take them to the last stop...wait, they are still not there... where they finally took one boat to the island.

Si Phan Don or Four Thousand Islands is a basic chill-out place. The most you can do here is go for a bike ride around the rice fields. But do nothing is why people come here.
Stay in the island was very relaxing and after 3 days eating and sleeping the 3 travelers have forgotten the lesson just learned.
Fernando convinced them again that the DIY (Do It Yourself) would be better! Poor girls, under pouring rain they
Buddha parkBuddha parkBuddha park

Dozens of buddhas and Indian gods in this crowded garden.
started again; boat, motorbike-taxi, border crossing... only they were luckier this time: at the border Fernando run out of options and had to take a mini-van to the first city in Cambodia!!

On the other side of the country, Claudio and Lili manage to organize and prepare the bike in the afternoon the others left and the next morning. The bike was in good condition, after all they bough from two Spanish travelers that just came driving from Hanoi in Vietnam. All Claudio and Lili had to do was, change oil, clutch cable, air filter, spark plug, stretch the chain, clean the carburetor, petrol filter, weld the tank, buy an extra helmet, tire patches, electric wire, electric tape, petrol hose, install a speedometer, feet rests, fix the gear lever and other small things... hehehe.

In a day driving the bike they could drive between 150Km to 300Km (more than that you die from vibration or sorrow bums). So they went much slower then the bus group. After the second day driving they left the main road to visit the famous cave near Ban na Him. This cave is formed by a river that impressively cross 7Km straight under
Life on boardLife on boardLife on board

The boat is the office and home at same time
the mountains. The river and the cave are so big that you can navigate through it. To get there Claudio and Lili used a road that was in construction, but to their surprise the last bridge was missing, luckily there was a boat men willing to pass them and the bike on his canoe.

Leaving Ban na Him they headed south, taking another 4 days for them to arrive in 4000 Islands and one more to cross into Cambodia.

Summary
Arrival: 19/06/2008
Length of Stay: 18 Days
Visited: Pak Beng, Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Paksan, Ban na Hin, Savannakhet, Pakse, Wat Phu, Dhong Khong, Si Pan Don.
Pros: Lots to see, tubbing in Vang Vieng, small population
Cons: Slow transport
Transport: Plenty and slow
Budget pp p/day: US$21,44
Budget breaker: Motorbike (Tzarina) and accessories



Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


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Bored?Bored?
Bored?

Everyone had to find a way to spend their time in the 2 day boat ride.
WindowWindow
Window

Fernando's geometric pictures have now a new aproach
Lost temple?Lost temple?
Lost temple?

Exploring this chamber full of dusty figures gave us some Indiana's Jones feeling
Sticky riceSticky rice
Sticky rice

Fernando's main dish for a month in Laos. He couldn't get enough of it
FogFog
Fog

Bad weather delayed our tubing for three days
Plain of JarsPlain of Jars
Plain of Jars

The jars have 3000 years, and more mysteries than years
 Si phan Don Si phan Don
Si phan Don

4000 islands. Try not to feel lazy here


28th July 2008

Need To Dig Further
Hello. I am pleased that you are having a good time in SE Asia. Insofar as your comments about the U.S. involvement in the Secret War, you need to do some reasearch before you make glib, off-the-cuff comments about my country. Our "kindness" as you put it....came with a lot of help. Study a bit. Learn what the KGB did in Loas. Learn how the U.S. go tits information and did not bom indiscriminately. Learn, also, that no government, not even mine, has admitted involvement. That includes all the players. The reality is a lot deeper than your version of American kindness. Richard...Manchester, CT, U.S.A.
30th July 2008

magic!
Beautiful! now my question.. after a long and long way in this world.. what was the most "amazing" to you? you are not a traveller you live in the world, because i cant feel you will come back one day.. who travel.. go.. but come back.. and this.. is not looks....
31st July 2008

Most bombed country on earth
hi,guys I think about it , There are at least 200 different types that include 500-3,000-lb bombs, anti-personnel and phosphorous devices, shells, exploding bullets, and mines. Most is of US origin and over thirty years old. It was not until mid-1997 that a proper audit of the problem was concluded by Handicap International.I was very surprised." Boon, 50, farms a two-hectare plot near Ban Nakok in Laos’s Mahaxay district, Khammouane Province. Rocky Colorado Treatment Centers
31st July 2008

amazing
Amazing report. I really enjoyed it. Surprised at the Americans and the bombing as there is no oil there.
31st July 2008

Need To Dig Further
Hey! Thanks for the comment. We love when people question our writings. Means that they read and put attention to it. I didn't understand properly your comment! Do you mean that USA hasn't admitted involvement in the secret war in Laos? USA says that all that USA made bombs dropped by USA military airplanes never existed? Sorry pal, we don't want to offend you or anyone, that's why we didn't discuss in our text if USA did had a reason or not, if there were other countries involved or not, or if the bombing was indiscriminate or not. The fact is: Laos is the most bombed country on earth and the vast majority of the bombs came from the USA. Your country has never suffered carpet bombing, Land Mines, etc. Think about the inocent people that had to endure all the bombing and now listen to USA deny involvement or resposability for the death of their children, partners, parents and friends. Come to Laos, see the fileds, the bombs, talk to the elderly locals and you will understand what we are talking about. Safe trips, Claudio and Fernando
31st July 2008

re: Need To Dig (Read?) Further
Hi, great blog on Laos along with some superb pictures. Definitely one of my favourite places to visit and one that I'll hopefully re-visit one day. In response to sapere18's comments, the USA's involvement in a secret war in Laos is well documented and accepted - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laotian_Civil_War for a selection of independent references. Laos was considered a potential aid to North Viet Nam (as described by Eisenhower's Domino Theory). Laos' official status of neutrality (declared by both NVN and the USA) meant any involvement in Laos (by either country) had to be kept secret. The amounts of ordnance produced in the USA still found today is evidence enough. A trip to this beautiful country and reading around the subject will provide more information. Thanks again for the blog - and happy travels, guys.
3rd September 2008

hey
Are ya'll still traveling? Whe are going to go back home? T
18th January 2009

Wow
your comments are nice but please learn how to use proper English... dios mio.
30th January 2009

OK
Well, english is not my first language, and you can belive me I'm doing my best. By the way, in Brazil we don't speak spanish. (dios mio?)
8th July 2009

What an adventure!
Hi guys! I think you guys are the most experience group of adventure on the planet. You learned quick and adabt well to cope with any situation. Hope you are well and enjoy your trip. Ken http://www.laos-travel-guide.com

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