The Plain of Jars and the scarred city

Phonsavan Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 15 › view all entries

Our trip to Phonsavan was to visit the plain of jars site, where huge, mysterious stone jars are scattered in several groups on the high plains surrounding Phonsavan in northern Laos. These jars are very old, I mean really really old. Their age is commonly estimated at 2000 years but erosion of the stone suggests they may be much more ancient. The purpose of these jars remain mystery today, but our local guide told us that they were probably used as funeral urns, so the bigger one are for the richer or with higher social status, the smaller one are for the common or kids. But some people also suggested that these jars were used to make the Laolao whisky. I really enjoyed the site here, it was so green, and so breezy, it was very different from Luang Prabang, and less tourist too.

The bomb crater
It made me happy just walked around and took a lot of photos, even though I had to be careful not to step on cow dungs... but hey, as long as it was not a bomb, it was not so bad right??!

Some history......

During the Vietnamese civil war this part of Laos was heavily damaged by both the North Vietnamese Army, who claimed they weren't there and the U.S. Air Force who claimed they weren't bombing them (like the bombs just fell from the sky accidentally). Well in fact it is also called the secret war as the official governments denied that this war existed. The denied it because the US and Vietnanese government had signed the agreement specifying the neutralisation of Laos. But seems like none of these 2 parties took the agreement seriously. The stated purpose of the bombing was to deter communism in northeast Laos, and to block Vietnamese use of the Ho Chi Minh trail in the southeast.

During the period, the local population was forced to live in caves to survive from the bombing. However till today, the entire region is still unsafe due to massive quantities of unexploded ordinance which still litters the province, like schoolyards, rice paddies, fields, and are even found in the clefts of bamboo trees. 

Later that day, we went to a office that showing us video on how these UXO killed so many innocents, which majority are children and farmers. For children, the bomblet looks like a toy to them and they play with it not knowing that it might explode. And children also go around to collect the bomb shell (metal) to sell it for money, but some of them are actually bomblets that haven't exploded. It also kills the farmers when the farmers plodded the field and hit these UXO covered in soil with their hoe.

The jars
The whole situation is very sad I think, as the nation already has limited land to grow crop, yet the lands are contaminated. For me, it is like you either killed by the bomb or die of hunger, which I don't want to pick any. The documentary video is called Bombies and you can probably request the hostel's owner to show it to you.

 

 

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The bomb crater
The bomb crater
The jars
The jars
This area was certified to be clea…
This area was certified to be cle…
Jar with a cap
Jar with a cap
On the way to the cave where the l…
On the way to the cave where the …
It was a small tree growing inside…
It was a small tree growing insid…
Damn.. The jar is taller than me
Damn.. The jar is taller than me
Now I am taller :)
Now I am taller :)
The sad buddha
The sad buddha
Phonsavan
photo by: droonsta