Bombs, Jars and Silkworms

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Dokkhoun Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our main reason for coming to Phonsavan was to see the Plain of Jars. The countryside around the town contains several sites littered with hundreds of 2,000 year old stone jars of various shapes and sizes. It was a little underwhelming, less because of the jars themselves but more because of the lack of information provided that you would find at a similar site at home.   

We also visited the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) office in town. MAG is a British NGO that helps to clean up areas affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and its job in Laos is massive. At the same time as the Vietnam war there was a civil war in Laos between the communists and royalists and although forbidden by international law the royalists were supported by the US. This 'secret war', so-called because it was kept from both the US congress and people, along with the fact that part of the Ho Chi Minh trail passed through Laos meant it became the most heavily bombed county in history. More bombs were dropped on Laos during this time then were dropped on Germany and Japan combined during WWII. The vast majority were cluster bombs, big bombs containing hundreds of smaller bombs that scatter over a large area. Of the 2 million tons of bombs dropped it is estimated that 20-30% did not explode on contact with the ground leaving the country contaminated with UXO and much of it just as dangerous as it was 30 years ago. About 3,000 people have been killed or injured in the last ten years. You can check out their website here

A little more prosaic but we also took a trip to a local silk farm which was pretty interesting.
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