Thursday, 30 January 2014

UXO’s, Jars and Rain

One of the many jars on the plains...
We enjoyed a slow, tasty breakfast at ‘Bamboozle’, a new café in town which had excellent seasonal mulberry shakes, and then we set about trying to hire some bikes. The first bikes we went to hire had no brakes and were half broken so we went further up the road till will located a place called ‘Happy Bikes’ who had good bikes at half the price of the other place. Pleased with our find we rode out of town to explore the Plain of Jars.

It took a good 50 minutes of riding as our city bikes weren’t exactly suited to the hilly terrain, no gears made up hills hard work, but we made it and enjoyed the scenery along the way. The site was pretty much deserted so we explored it on our own, making sure to stay between the MAG markers as there are still UXO’s that need to be avoided. In fact, the Plain of Jars is dotted with craters that are actually places where bombs have been exploded, it was crazy just how many craters we rode passed and walked around and it made us understand just a little about just how many bombs were actually dropped on Laos. 

One of the many craters from exploded bombs...
The jars are one the strangest archaeological things we’d seen, and there’s no real explanation for their existence either. Essentially they are just massive stones hollowed out which makes it look like a jar to us but could easily have a whole other purpose.

The sky was darkening rapidly after we finished exploring so we thought we should head back, but we weren’t quick enough and we were caught in a massive torrential downpour (seriously some of the heaviest rain we’ve experienced). It was a good thing we were wearing hats or else our glasses would’ve been so spotted with rain we wouldn’t have been able to see a thing! There was nothing in the way of shelter, or even a decent tree, so we just kept peddling in the hope that we’d pass something sooner rather than later (not to mention that wandering off in a paddock to find a tree could be deadly around here). Just as Murphy would have it, as we reached the outskirts of town the rain let up so we thought even though we were soaked we’d stop for lunch. 

The dark clouds gathering....
After a mid-arvo nap we went back to the MAG place to watch another documentary, this time we viewed ‘Bomb Harvest’ which was actually made by the ABC. It went through the training of local staff and the process of defusing the numerous bombs that are still being uncovered – often by children. It was hard to comprehend that even though the villages understand the dangers and risks they still try to take apart UXO’s so that they can sell the metal. To them it’s a risk worth taking…

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