Monday, March 7th (Phou Khoun to Phonsavan)

  • Another straightforward travel day for us.
  • I started the day with a workout, then went across the street for an omelette breakfast.
  • I returned to our guesthouse and we packed up, strapped up, and hit the road.
  • The driving was a continuation of yesterday for the first section: windy, ridgeline roads and endless mountain scenery in every direction.
  • For the final 40 km we dropped into a plateau where we were able to make serious progress on long straightaways and gentle corners.
  • We arrived in Phonsavan around 2pm and checked in to Kong Keo Guesthouse after some searching.
  • Phonsavan is the capital of Xiangkhouang province, the most bombed province in the most bombed country on earth. As a result, much of the scrap metal (collected at great risk) is put to use for practical purposes or decoration.  
  • For example, on our way into town we saw a plethora of decommissioned bombs decorating the entrances of local businesses, especially restaurants, with names like: “Craters” or “Bombie” (the Lao name for cluster bomblets).
  • At our guesthouse the keychain was a bullet casing and the firepit was housed in the concave interior of a massive bombshell.
  • We ate lunch at a local restaurant on the corner of our block, then spent the rest of the day exploring Phonsavan.
  • We spent some time visiting the Quality of Life Association (QLA), a local nonprofit that aims to help victims of ordnance explosions and their families. It was heartbreaking reading the case studies pasted on the walls of wounded locals, but uplifting to see the difference QLA was able to make in those people’s lives.
  • We also visited the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) office, a British nonprofit that has spent years sweeping Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to remove the unexplored ordnance (UXO) – with many many more years of work to follow.
  • Made a quick trip to the market to pick up some dragon fruit snacks.
  • Returned to our guesthouse after the light faded and spent the rest of the evening reading before calling it an early night.
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