So we were about 4 hours into this wonderful trip when a noise coming from the left back side of the car made all of us look at the driver, who smiled in a ‘its okay, no worries’ fashion and jumped out to check it out. At this point, the typical Lao smile was abruptly wiped from his face. We jumped out to give our Aussie expertise on the situation and when we did we saw the tyre was flatter than our helmet hair. It turned out our Aussie opinion was ‘well.. that sh*t’s fu#ked.” It turned out that our driver indeed agreed.
After a head scratch, he got to work and spent some time trying to undo the nuts, we whispered between the other 2 Aussies on the trip that it was the wrong way, but we didn’t want to be rude, I mean, its his car, he knows what he is doing.
Once he figured that out he then tried to wedge a rock under the tyre, we weren’t really sure what this was accomplishing, but we had decided that he didn’t have jack. Our suspicions were correct when he disappeared for 20 minutes and returned with a jack, once equipped with the right tools and the right direction to turn the nuts, the rest was a breeze. A quick round of applause for our driver and we were back on the road.
After a long day of practically nothing we were finally in Phonsavan, we found ‘Nice Guest House’ which for $9 we found ourselves in a clean, big bed with the best shower we have had in weeks… Okay, in months. After settling in and letting our families know we were alive we walked around until we sniffed our Nisha Indian Restaurant. Best Tikka Masala ever.
We went to LaoFalay Restaurant the following morning for a nutella sandwich (yes, they sell those here) and then rented a motorbike for our days adventure.
Our day ended nicely with a big burger and pasta from bamboozle whilst chatting to our new Aussie friends from the bus trip.
A little history lesson we think is extremely important for everyone to understand:
Laos has had more bombs dropped on it per capita than any other country in the world. Take a moment to actually let that sink in. Laos; a country which has not willingly participated in an international war wears this title, not Vietnam, not Afghanistan, Not Iraq, Laos. From 1964 to 1973 A bomb exploded every 8 minutes in this beautiful country. Think about life quality with a bomb exploding in your country every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years. Still to this day, roughly 300 people a year die in Laos due to unexploded bombs that the U.S dropped during the Vietnam War. Of those 300 people, most of them are children. 270 million bombies (cluster bombs) were dropped on Laos during the war, 30% of these failed to detonate, meaning there is a whopping (and shocking) 80 million plus live bombies still out there. This means, there are farmers in this country that to this day, cannot farm their land and children who cannot walk their backyards due to fear of unexploded bombies, these people are unable to produce money from the only thing they own (their land), leaving this country with some of the poorest families in SE Asia. Thankfully there are Non Government Organisations set up in an attempt to clear Laos of bombies (Such as MAG).
Back to Tham Piew Cave, this is a cave that during this horrible time over 400 people from surrounding villages resided in to take shelter from the war. They set up a makeshift hospital, and farmed their land for food during nightfall. This came to a heart-breaking end when the U.S ordered an air strike on the cave, killing 374 civilians. Being in the cave sent shivers down your spine and breaks your heart clean in half.