|It took about 5 hours to get to Phonsavan. Jamie and I chose to take a mini van just to speed up time and to have a break from the local vomit busues. Phonsavan is my last stop before heading over to Vietnam, and a decect place to break up the travel time. The town itself isn't anything to write home to itself. The scenery here and the surroundings is similar to some parts of western Cambodia. The main reason people come here is to see The Plain Of Jars. There are 3 sites open to the public. The easiest and cheapest way to see the 3 sites is to book a tour at one of the travel agencies or guesthouse. The guest house Jamie and I stayed at offered a tour for 190,000 kip, but the travel agency across the street offered the same tour for 120,000 kip. We asked around a few other places and this one was the best option. It included the 3 sites, a rRussian tank, and a whiskey village. Lunch and entrance fees(10,000 kip for each site) were also included in the price.
The first site had the most jars. Site 2 was up on a hill and had jars that were a bit larger. Site 3 was also up on a hill, but you had to cross a river and walk through rice patties to get to it. I would say that site 2 was my favorite, but if it was the wet season and a green I would have to put my money on site 3 for the surrounding scenery. The Russian tank was one of the 2 that was left in Laos when they were helping out the Vietnamese. The whiskey village, well, was a village that made lots of lao lao whiskey and sold to the town.
Phonsavan is also a great place to learn about the secret war that went on in Laos and how the CIA had secretly recruited many Hmong in Laos to go against the Vietnamese during the war and even after the Geneva Accords were signed and President Johnson halted bombing on Vietnam. Did you know that Laos is the most bombed country in the world? During the Vietnam War the U.S. dropped loads of bombs and unexploded munitions(UXO's) all over the Eastern side of Laos that bordered Vietnam and the Hoh Chi Nihm Trail. Tens of thousands of innocent villagers were killed during the war. Even today the people are still affected by the UXO that are scattered about the jungles, in branches of bamboo trees, rice fields, beneath schools, houses, villages, playgrounds, etc etc.. Many are still being found by children, who continue to try and play or open them or sell them, which result in bloen limbs and even death. Hunters that find bombs and bombies try to open them up for the gunpowder and end up killing themselves and or others around them. I watched a couple documentaries at the UXO Vistitor Information Center in town, Bombies and Bomb Harvest, wheich were very informative on the subject and what went on during the war, how it affected and still affects the country, and what is being done to clean up and clear the bombs in order for a safer future. The Mine's Advisory Group, MAG, is a British Organisation that's been clearing UXOs in Laos and training Laos people on how to as well since 1994. Many village women have volunteered in the UXO clearing and is a very serious job, not to mention very dangerous. Jamie and I donated $10 each to the organisation and received a free tshirt to promote and spread the word.