It was some time in early November 2011 that C and I arrived in what looked like a totally deserted town of Phonsavan. It wasn’t somewhere that we planned on visiting but having read about the mysterious Plain of Jars I really wanted to see it with my own eyes as I love nothing more travel wise that a bit of mystery.
Macca triggered some of those memories through his photo of the week this week talking about just that, the mystical and mysterious stone jars scattered around multiple locations surrounding the ghost town we arrived at. And I really mean it when I say ghost town. There was literally noone there and getting dinner was pretty much impossible as all restaurants (and there weren’t many) had their doors shut tight. After finding what seemed like the only place that would feed us we embarked on another challenge of trying to book an organised tour around 3 of the main Plain of Jar sites.
Another impossible thing, so we decided on renting a DIY twist and go motorbike the next morning and travel around ourselves (a truly awesome way to see the jars in fact!). By DIY I mean that it was actually a manual bike once that was just redone into a twist and go by some local dude taking the clutch off… Don’t ask! It got us there and back in one piece and that’s what matters when you’re backpacking.
We found a half decent place to stay for our rather tight budget and I dropped off to sleep pretty instantly feeling rather delirious and feverish… I never get sick really but I think it was just the pure exhaustion of travelling very long distances in far from comfortable conditions for a good few weeks without a longer break that got me that night.
Feeling much better the next day C and I drove around on our little machine and visited the main accessible sites of what is thought to be either ancient grave yards or that in fact locally made rice whiskey was once stored in them. Not much is actually known about those mystery covered sites so the only thing we can do is choose the story that runs with our imagination I suppose.
There are more than 90 sites known, scattered around the Xieng Khouang province but only very few are actually accessible for tourists and here’s the reason why:
UXO are still a really bad problem in Laos and in the MAG museum we also visited while in Phonsavan we read a statement somewhere that it’ll take over 100 years of countinuous work to clear all of the unexploaded ordnance out. That is with the funds flowing in, which is another and a totally separate story.
If you’re in Laos, I’d defintely go and visit some of the sites as it is a place you won’t see anywhere else in the world and if you too, like me like a bit of mystery you can let your imagination run free and just soak in the atmosphere that sometimes, I am not going to lie is just that little bit spooky…
Till next week x