Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jars and Tubes

To start off our trip into Laos, we opted for the decidedly touristy excursions. In Phonsavan, we toured the Plain of Jars, an archeological site of unknown origin. There are a few different theories of how the jars came to be, along with local legend. But, in a nutshell, it is a bunch of large stone jars scattered in various locations just outside of Phonsavan. On a heavier note, the location of these jars coincides with sites that the U.S. bombed in the 60s and 70s. There were the remnants of bomb craters and trenchlines scattered everywhere as we wound our way through the jars. We had to follow an exact path on our tour to remain on the land that had previously been cleared of landmines. Red and white painted bricks warned us not to stray too far. As we drove home at the end of the tour, we saw large pink bags that marked the presence of detected bombs that needed removal. There was a field full of hundereds of pink bags that couldn't have been more than 10 meters from a school. Heartbreaking. After our tour, we packed up and prepared to take an early morning bus the next day to Vang Vieng. There was nothing historical about Vang Vieng. It was absolutely beautiful, and a place where relaxation reigns supreme. The tourist highlight of Vang Vieng is tubing down the Nam Sung. It is full of karsts and jungle, and takes your breath away at every turn. And then you float through the bars, where a couple hundered drunk kids in their twenties from around the world are partying it up at a bar/waterpark-esque mass of insanity. Super fun, but definately not a "real" taste of Laos. Mikaela and I went and partied with a really fun group of Irish and English kids we made friends with, played on the slides and acrobat swings and had some beer lao. The next day, we chose to kayak on a quiter part of the river, so we could actually see Vang Vieng, a place worth expiriencing apart from the bar scene. We also spent some quality time in hammocks, reading books and drinking coconut shakes, watching the river float by. I have started a Laos album, and linked it below. It has all of the Phonosavan pictures, and the start of the pictures from Vang Vieng.

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