Trip Start Jul 12, 2010
120Trip End Jul 09, 2011
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I had some very lovely fellow passengers next to me - one lady who shared her corn on the cob with me and one girl who slept on my knee for about 20 minutes! Michael was sat up front with the Buddhist monks for a while and had a good chat. The scenery through the mountains was lovely and our driver was one of the safest we'd had yet. 12 hours later we got to our destination with a few new friends and big grins on our faces.
The reason for heading to Xam Nua was to visit the Viengxiay caves. These are a network of 480 caves that the communist leaders of Laos hid in during the Vietnam war. America bombed the heck out of Laos during the war to destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail and to suppress the chances of a Communist uprising in Laos. Up to 23,000 people lived in the caves over the course of 8 or 9 years. They were incredibly sophisticated and included a school, printing shop, army barracks, hospital, morgue and (my personal favourite) a theatre space that could hold an audience of 3,000. Performers from Russia and China travelled to the theatre in the caves to cheer up the troops. After the bombing stopped the Communist leaders built houses outside their caves. One particular highlight was a swimming pool that had been made from a bomb crater! The audio guide that accompanied the tour was really professional and added a lot to our experience. We cycled in between caves with our guide Mr Ung who was a very nice man. So nice in fact that he went and personally negotiated a much cheaper tuk tuk to take us back to Xam Nua.
The caves were a really amazing trip and we were so glad that we had been to see them. It was quite an inspirational but at times sad experience
We had a great day in the caves - it was nice to learn a bit of history and test our brains out again!