This is the third part of the small "guide" through Laos.
Xieng Khouang is located north-east of Laos. It's a really nice hilly and mountainy area of the country. It takes about 6-7 hours from Vientiane to get here through a very curvy road. We were stunned by the beautiful landscapes next to the road. You can see small villages, rice fields and huge jungles.
It's a poorer part of Laos and there are less tourists also. During the Vietnam war it was bombed and there are still a lot of armed mines left hiden in the ground. Fortunately the authoraties already cleard most of the visited parts of Xieng Khouang, and you can see people looking for mines to disarm them. But it's not dangerous at all to visit this place. You can still feel the impact of the war. Locals use bombs as fances and decorations for their restaurants and pubs or they cut them in half and they plant flowers in the bomb shells. It looks really surreal and it's nice to see that the people found a way to "recycle" the garbage of the war.
It can get pretty cold expecially in the mornings and late evenings in this region because of the mountains. Mornings are really foggy and sometimes you can't even see your own hands in front of you, but it get's clear after a while and really hot and sunny. :)
Places to visit:
- plain of Jars - it's in the UNESCO world heritage. The archaeologists are still not sure what they were used for.
plain of jars
- Wat Piawat temple - it was the oldest and biggest temple in Xiengkhouang ,but it was destroyed by US bombing during the Vietnam war. Just the buddha statue remained almost undamaged.
- War Memorials(caves and statues) - victims of the Vietnam war - About an hour away from the city there is a cave which during the war was used as a hiding place for civilians. The US supected that there might be also some high ranking people from the military hiding in the cave so they bombed the cave. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives. Now it's a memorial for the victims of the war. We met here with some buddisht monks who were praying for the victims and we got to talk with them a little bit. It was one of the best moments in our trip.
- quarry of the Jars and a secret tunnel - a little hike through endless staircase up to the mountain. The view is really nice from up there.
on the top
- Hotspring - This natural mineral hot spring is located at Muong Kham District . There is a little bath place for the visitors but don't expect the luxury of the West. There's a row of small cabins with tiny bathtubs in them. When we were there a really old lady was working in the garden there and we gave her a small bottle of water. She said that we are so kind and we have a good heart and wished us good luck and happiness and long life and you could see in her eyes that she really meant it. So many kind words for such a tiny gesture( a small bottle of water). It was a really touching moment... It made me think a lot how people from the west (including myself) don't appreciate what we have as much as we should. We're complaning way too much about nothing.
- walking in the city - it's quite a small city with a lot of interesting bars and restaurants and of course with lots of karaoke. Close to the old airport there's a huge building where locals go to spend their freetime. It is kind of a "casino". It's full of life. There's a game where they use 3 cubes with images on each side and you have to guess which one will be on the top. It's quite fun! :)
Xieng Khouang at night
Next time I will write about Luang Phrabang, the old capital of Laos.