The pastoral plains and rolling hills belie the blood-stained history in this region. Flying into Xieng Khouang, the aerial view of the pock-marked landscape is a stark reminder of a war ravaged history.
Xieng Khouang’s capital Phonsavan was newly created after the Indochine wars. Nearby lie the enigmatic jars: large urn-like stone jars made from nearby mountains scattered across the plains, or nestled on top of shaded hills. Nobody quite knows what it was for, although nearby excavation of cremated ashes suggest it is a funeral/burial site.
A walk from jar site 2 to jar site 3 takes us through pine tree lined hill tops, rice fields, waves of green gentle slopes set below puffy white clouds. Some small cemeteries in the form of stupas litter the slopes.
So pastoral and yet there is this feeling of not being able to fully indulge in its natural beauty: along the way, we passed by a war plane crash site, a few bomb craters and stray bullets. This idyllic countryside was once rained upon with torrents of bombs.
The next day, we were to have a close encounter with a live cluster bomb, one of the many unexploded ordnances (UXO) that continues to endanger the lives of villagers and hinders cultivation on the fertile lands of Laos. More of that in another post.