Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finally... stories about jars.

Alright, after days of fighting to try and get our VPN service to allow us to connect to Blogger we are finally able to post. It was more the VPN then China, and we are still having some slight issues that make posting more difficult then it should be, but you guys are worth it... Don't be surprised if it takes us another 3 days to post again, as loading photos has been quite a fight lately. Our posts need to feature photos since we know that most of you don't actually bother to read fully - just a quick skim and then look at the pretty pictures.

Anyway - last time we wrote, prior to our guests last weekend, we had just taken a 6 hour ride into the eastern section of northern Laos to Phonsavan. Our first day there we were able to sleep in a little prior to heading out for the sights that we came all this way to see. When I say 'we' in this case I mean 'I', Tina liked the idea but felt that there may have been other sights to see in China or nearby Asia prior to heading home. She gave in on this one in exchange for her being able to dictate where the rest of our, here I mean 'my', vacation time was spent. I gladly agreed.

Phonsavan is a fairly new city, the original city of Xieng Khouang being completely destroyed during the war, and people mainly come here so that they can head out and see the jars. Plains of jars actually, but because of unexploded ordinance in the area there are only a few sites that can be safely visited. So, without further talking may I present to you the plain of jars....

First stop has a large sign about the unexploded ordinance (UXO's) in the area, actually all sites have this, and warns you to stay within marked areas. The group MAG does a lot of work around the world to help clear mined and bombed land, and since Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world they are quite busy here. Go back up and click their link and donate them some money, it's worth it for all of the work they are doing.

Right, back to the jars. They are carved out of stone and quite large, and just lying about across a section of the country. Nobody really knows what they were originally for, or even when they were made. Just big stone jars...
Those are all from the first site that we went to, it had the most jars along with an old trench line from the war and several large bomb craters. Several of the jars were damaged and there was only one that still had a stone lid on it.

From there we went to site 2 which was up on a hilltop, actually two different hilltops.

Just the amount of work to move these stone jars up to the top of a hill is mindboggling. Although fewer jars then the first site it was almost more impressive due to the location.
Rice paddy path to site 3

Site 3 was a bit of a hike through some rice paddies and then across some farmers fields. It is by far the best of the three sites just because of the location and the surrounding fields and mountains.
Lots of jars...
...and even more jars
Mark in a short squat jar*
Tina in a tall thin jar*

From there we to the old center of the capitol city and looked at an old temple that had been bombed but the Buddha has survived, and took a look at some old Stupas on top of the nearby hills.
Buddha survived the bombing
Old stupa on the hilltop

After a long day of looking at ancient carved rocks we headed back into town, where we wandered the market for a while before enjoying a great local dinner.
Water buffalo near the market
Full moon after dinner

* - we didn't actually climb into the jars, there are signs telling you not to, these were jars that had been damaged and had a hole in the back side of them.

1 comment:

Mom W said...

Thanks for the footnote. I had wondered about your being in the jars. . . but more importantly I wondered how Tina could have gotten OUT!
This is somewhat like Easter Island with the questions of how they got there, and why.
Beautiful pictures, and a great story which I read all the way thru, like I always do!