Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Plain of Jars

Yesterday I went out to the plain of jars to have a look. I waited until midday mostly because it was cold, but also so the sun would be in the middle of the sky for the polarizer to work better.

The plain of jars was the only reason I had to visit Laos, I knew nothing else about the country before I got here. And I'd only learnt about it from the Anthony Bourdain show No Reservations.

The problem on some of these sites is UXO (unexploded ordinance), but that's a problem everywhere here. They've cleared 7 of the jar sites so far, but there are signs up to warn you to stay on the marked paths as only the surface has been cleared outside of this area. Luckily I didn't get blown up.

The first site is easy to get too on sealed roads. Costs 10000kip to get in, and 2000kip to park a motorbike.

And of course, since it's an historical site you must write on something... At least this isn't the jars themselves.

This is one of the cleared UXO markets, stay between the white! 

Some Jars!

A bomb crater just next to the jars. There's a few more craters on this site.
And because I've just learned how to use Hugin here is a panorama:

Another Jar.

One with a lid. There are some lids scattered around the place, not too many though.

A path marked with the bricks.

Panorama from the top of the hill. 
Then it was off to site two which was along 15km of bumpy, rocky dirt road... This was on the way back from the third jar site. Most of the road is like this, some of it worse. The smaller roads off this main road don't have too many rocks on them.

Once I got to the second jar site I parked just next to the ticket counter. I took everything important out of my jacket pockets so I could leave it with the bike because it started to get hot. I locked up my phone and other camera and various items in the case on my bike, all while this Lao guy was watching me do this closely. I go up to pay another 10000kip to get in, then ask the guy for directions, he says yes, go up that way. I walk in about 20 meters when I see that there aren't any clear paths off the side of this road for about a hundred meters. I went back to the guy to ask how far up it actually was as there are no maps or arrows here, and he says "Oh take motorbike"...  So you couldn't let me know that while you were standing next to me watching me pack up everything on my bike for five minutes? So I got everything back out of the case, put it all back in it's various pockets, and then rode up to the site.

One of the lids on the ground. I guess that's a little stick figure human?
Then it was off to site three along more rocky dirt roads!

Site three had the same no directions problem as site two. I parked near the ticket place, but this time there was an old bridge across a creek to get across. After that though, you're in a field.... So I made a guess and followed the worn path over to the hill.

This field...
The path zigzagged across this field, planks over bits of mud, and wandering past some cows. Then finally you make it to the jars.

Site three! I sat here for a bit because it was hot and this time I didn't leave my jacket on the bike. It was very quiet here.

More jars!
Then it was time to head back to Phonsavan. I wasn't looking forward to the dirt roads too much.

More of the trail from the Jars.

The bridge. Note there are some planks missing.
Now today I have to spend time washing all my smelly motorbike gear and then figure out where I'm going tomorrow.

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