We declined the morning market to spend more time at the Plain of Jars. We went to Site 1 . only (disappointing not to go to the other 2 sites which are open to the public. The Plain of Jars is estimated to be about 3000 years old, from the time of the Khmers. No one is entirely sure of its purpose, but the plain is covered with hundreds of sandstone jars of differing sizes. It is thought that they could be burial jars, used for storage of rice whiskey or used to distil the dead. They definitely seem to be laid out with some sort of order. UNESCO were on site doing an archaeological dig (only the 3rd on the site) and they uncovered and lifted a jar while we were there. The area had been heavily bombed during the war, evidenced my the MAG tags - one wonders how much damage was done to such a unique site. We found the entrance to a cave - inside there was a hole in the roof where a bomb had entered and there was a shrine set up to the people that had been killed inside.
A short distance down the road was the decimated town of Khoun, the former capital of Xieng Khouang province. It was totally destroyed in the war and was rebuilt at Phonsavan. We visited the remains of the temple and hospital which had been destroyed by the bombing. The bombing was so heavy, that houses have only started being rebuilt in the last 3 years, as the unexploded bombs have been cleared to make it safe. We saw many fields still being cleared for bombs - at the rate they are going it is going to be many more years before it is safe. If the US helped out, I am sure it could be done much more quickly and efficiently, but they are not admitting the role that they played. The US should not have dropped bombs on Laos under the terms of the Geneva convention, but they chose to offload unused bombs in raids over Vietnam while returning to bases in Thailand, instead of taking the risk of landing with unexploded bombs.
After lunch we went to the airport (very basic - they still used typewriters) and caught a Lao Airlines flight to Vientiane. Went out for dinner and then to the waterfront to the night market, which was quite boring compared to some others we had visited.