Yesterday we took a flight from Vientiane to Xieng Khouang. Xieng Khouang province is one of the most heavily bombed areas in Laos. We were told not to worry about UXOs in inhabited areas, and that we would be safe. As the plane descended, one can still see huge bomb craters in the land, although we were told there are not as many as before. The craters are often used as fish ponds.
As we came off the plane, it was immediately evident that Xieng Khouang is a beautiful place to visit. The mountains, temperature, and landscape made everyone take out their cameras at once.
We arrived at 3 p.m. and still had a few hours of light left. We quickly checked into our hotel and headed over to Site One of the Plain of Jars. We had the good fortune of knowing somebody in the area already that would lead us there. There are many explanations for the enormous stone jars, some up to 2,400 years old. My favorite is that they were used to preserve vegetables and padect (a fermanted fish product), although that explanation came from someone in our group and not our knowledgable tour guide, Long. Yet I think everyone would agree that the Plain of Jars is certainly magical.
Afterwards, we headed to Manophet’s English Language School. Barbara and Dori, from Give Children a Choice, had met Manophet, who invited them to come and converse with his English language students. They in turn invited us. Coincidently, Elaine had met Manophet on a previous visit and over the years donated to his school. The students had impressive English skills and were very appreciative of our time. After conversing for an hour, Fred tipped off the group that it was Elaine’s birthday and about 100 teenagers sang Happy Birthday to her in English. This will certainly be a brithday to remember!