Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
582Trip End Ongoing
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The bus pulled up, and Lucy ran for three seats. As the locals only like to sit on one to themselves, she managed to get some, leaving the back seats for the Northerners who were on their way to the same place. The drive over the mountains was quite spectacular and 7 hours later, we had arrived. Lucy and Welf went to check out other bus times. Us for Luang Prabang, Welf for Viet Nam. Unluckily for Welf, the buses to V N only go every second day, and tomorrow was the second day, so he resigned himself to leaving tomorrow. We grabbed a free ride into the town, found a room, and went for a walk. There wasn't much to see, but every guesthouse have cluster bombs, grenades, machine guns and missile cases. All left over from the wars. And just in case you don't know, Laos, per square metre is the most bombed country in the world. During the American war, if the Seppoes couldn't bomb North Viet Nam, they would off load their contents in Laos, namely Phonsovan. And once the bombing had stopped in V N, the Sepps kept bombing Laos as their Government were becoming Commies like the ones surrounding them.
We walked around the town trying to arrange a tour to see the Plain of Jars, as this is why we were here. We managed to get a guy to go for $8 USD, but he wanted to charge us $35 USD to take us to see a Hmong village that uses the old missile cases as stilts for houses and fences. Obviously we reclined. We met another couple and told them price we had and what we wanted to see. An hour later, they came back and said that they had the three Jar sites, and the Hmong village for$6 USD. SO we jumped on and arranged to meet them the next morning
We met up for one last dinner. Welf had been running around town seeing if there were any planes going to Vientiane, but no one was able to tell him. We got so much different info, that he thought the best thing to do was to just catch the bus and miss out on the Plain of Jars. We found a restaurant, cracked the Beer Lao's as this was going to be our last night with Welf, and ate shit food. At the end of the meal, the owner came over and gave us a bottle of home brewed cherry wine. He pulled out four shot glasses, and he told us how communism was good and that he had studied in Budapest. He also said that the bottle was on the house. The kind of price we like !!! He also brought out some marinated cherries that the wine was made from. As soos as you bit in to them, a huge hit of alcohol would come out. I was getting pissed eating !!! So, we asked for another as it was only fifty cents. The owner declined to join us for the second, and halfway throufh, Welf dropped out as he had an early morning bus to catch. We finished the wine and beers, said our goodbyes, and then it happened. In some stages of our lives, we have been harmless, legless, and now we were Welfless !!! We now needed a new sucker to hang on to !!! But one good thing would come out of this, we would now not be drinking anymore beer !!!
Beer Lao's Drunk - 4
Beer Lao's Total - 40
We met the group, had some breakfast and then took off. We went to the old Hmong village first. It was a fair drive, and not long after we were pulling up. As we walked towards the village, a thought came over me. I have been to see the Hmong people in V N before, but this time, I felt like an intruder. Maybe I am finally becoming mature !!! We walked in and around. Various stilt houses were being supported by the missile cases. There was a huge fence made of them and they were also being used as long flower troughs. It was ok, but I really did want to leave. On the way out, the guide told us he was a Hmong and had a brother that lived in the USA. He wanted to come home but wasw scared he would be arrested. During the American War, the CIA trained up a load of Hmong village people to fight the Commies. He was one of them, hence the unable to come back. The Hmong people still fight the current Government. This is the reason I never came here 6 years ago, and they still haven't given up fighting either. After a short while longer, we moved on towards the site.
Plain of Jars, Site Three
At the start was a sign telling all about the UXO in the area and how you needed to walk through the markers to get there. They were not to difficult to see, so of few set.
We walked a while through some paddie fields before we came upon it. There are around 150 jars stacked in various places. For the first site, they were pretty impressive. We were a little concerned that we wouldn't enjoy this as we had built ourselves up for the big heads in Turkey. So, we were quite relieved when we came upon them. The guide gave a couple stories about how they were made. Some people believe that they were boulders dug out, whilst others believe that they were made from sand, blood, skin hide and mollasses. There were varying shapes and sizes and a couple of long ones on their sides. Being the first site, we took a while to go through it, before we went back for lunch
Plain of Jars, Site Two
This site is much smaller, there are only around 90 of them, but they are spread out over two little hills. It kind of has an Angkor feel about it because there are a couple of jars that have been cracked into pieces as there are trees growing through them. As it was small, we didn't take long before we had seen it all.
Along the way to the last site, we pulled up and was told that the piece of rusting metal in the ditch was a former Russian tank. Eagerly, we all jumped out and had a look. It actually was a bare shell of one. The turret that at on top had been removed and dumped to one side. As this was my first Russian tank, my virginity was now broken
Plain of Jars, Site One
The last site is the biggest with over 250 jars. The largest ones are here and they weigh between 600 Kg to one Tonne each. The guide reckoned that the largest one weighed over 6 tonnes, but has he ever lifted it !!! They were actually quite huge, to hard to put in words. Surrounding us were craters, left over from the American war. There were also smaller ones where the MAG team had been blowing up the UXO, once it has been found. In the middle of the site was a huge rock with a cave in it. There is a story that the Commies were hiding out here, so the Seppoes tried bombing the shit out of them. Hence, the craters everywhere. Out of the cave an back to anotehr part of the site, we were shown a jar with an engraving of a man on it. There had been a dig here in 1933, but they missed this !!! Maybe it had been put on afterwards !!! We will never know. We walked through the markers until we were on top of the hill which hid the cave. It was pretty good looking over the fields at the jars. Actually, according to a map we saw at the bottom, there are jar sites all over this part of Laos, but you need your own transport to get there. On the way into town, we passed a house with some more bomb casings, so we did the touristy thing and took more photos.
Beer Lao's Drunk - 3
Beer Lao's Total - 43
It had been good to come up here, the trip was views were great, but we were now down to two. Tomorrow, we will be going back over the mountains and then onto Luang Prabang