Bomb Craters and Plain of Jars

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, July 31, 2011

10:22 We're on the go again, after watching about the bombies our first stop is a bomb village of Na Kam Peng, near the Vietnam border. The main road is fine but the side road off to the village is poor and full of holes. One thing that is also a shame is that the roads to the plain of jars, sites 2 and 3 are so bad as to be impassable in the rainy season, which begs the question- why don't they put some decent Tarmac down, after all, these areas generate money from tourists. Our guide says that this money probably disappears into politicians pockets. I did also read that a donation to the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which is British run, of $12 pays for the clearing of 10sq metres of land, I think this is money well spent and would like to make a donation myself after hearing about this awful secret war. I'm afraid the American government continues to go down in my estimation for all the things it has done, and continues to do, eg: not being involved in cutting CO2 levels. Now I'm no Eco-warrior but this perception I am getting, more and more that the US government can just be a world law unto itself without considering the rest of the planet, and it seems something the people also appear to believe (just when will a country other than America save the world in a film?!) is something I have to say, I'm finding a little disturbing and sickening. When you look at a map of the world it's not even all that big! I hope no one arrests me now for having an opinion based on evidence I have seen!
10:55 We arrived at the bomb crater site, it wasn't very comforting to know that the area had been fenced off, not because it was a memorial or tourist point, but because it hasn't been checked for bombs yet!! Hmmm, send the tourists in! Before coming on this trip we had to register with a local office, just in case something happens.

Because of the cool, wet, dreary, grassy field we were standing in, with wet, dreary, cloudy, hilly landscape I was looking at, whilst wearing my rain poncho with rain blowing in my face (bear with me)...I felt like I was in the lake district.
19:04 After the craters we went to a bomb village as it is called, actually a Hmong village where they have made posts for some of the smaller buildings out of bombs cases. It was a small village of around 200 people and it was nice to be able to walk around and see the houses and the people and the children playing.

Next stop the Plain of jars site 1, this was the only site we were able to go to because the other 2 are down a road which in the rainy season is so muddy and full of holes as to be inaccessible. What surprises me about this is why they don't make a proper tarmaced road so that all the tourists that come are able to visit there. The signs up by MAG tell you to keep between their markers because this indicates where they have not only done a surface check, but also a sub-surface check for anything that might go boom. The plain of jars is, unsurprisingly, an area of land littered with huge stone jars, and no one knows who made them, or why! There are little MAG markers around but they are flat so actually quite hard to see at times, and a couple of times I found myself innocently wandering and spotting I was on the wrong side of a marker...I quickly moved myself onto the right side! There really are a lot of big jars, and on one of them is a carving of a person or something. I keep joking that it's aliens, as the experts of this world never seem to be without an answer for things, but on this occasion they are.

After wandering around the area we returned to the town and I went to the MAG place for a look at their blurb and saw a picture of the density of bombs dropped on Laos, I also made a $10 donation, with this got a t shirt of my choice. I felt it was better than spending money buying a T-Shirt that said 'Tubing in the Vang Vieng' for example (although I have already voiced my opinion on this!)

We bought our bus tickets for tomorrow for 110000 to Sam Neua which will be a 10 hour bus ride through the huge hills again.
20:06 As we ate, several kids came begging for food, initially we ushered them away but they were hanging around and as we had leftovers we gave them these and bought them some milk. The lady at the restaurant said in broken English that their parents are lazy and every night they go looking for food. It's really sad, this country was a seemingly innocent bystander of the war, got bombed to oblivion and as a result is one of the poorest countries in the world.
20:23 Some more kids arrived, they were so hungry and we got them to sit with us and I bought them some rice and milk, which they just inhaled eagerly. I was glad I was able to help them. A massive plate of plain rice costs about 40p and the boys were so happy and thankful, sadly some other boys came past and watched and also looked sad and hungry. If people, tourists, did this every day then they wouldn't be hungry and it's so little to give. I wont give people money but I will buy them food. It was good to do, but it made me sad in my heart that they were in this situation.

Best: day of sightseeing
Worst: seeing the poor little hungry, grubby kids
Beautiful: plain of jars
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