Ponsavan – Reality Check

It’s bye bye to Vang Vieng and we follow Highway 13, then follow Highway 7 Eastward towards the next larger town of Ponsavan.

It’s quite a way to go and though the roads on the second half between Vang Vieng and Ponsavan are excellent, the first half is a dangerous combination of asphalt followed by dirt road around every unsuspecting corner, so going is pretty slow and we don’t make it to Ponsavan in one day. Before sunset we stop in a tiny village called Nam Chat. There is a guest house there which has 3 very basic bungalows next to the lake and we check in there for 50000LAK. We love it.  

There are local restaurants on the roadside and we settle in at the first which is run by “Mama”, a lovely, lively Lao woman who speaks no English and loves loud music and karaoke. She keeps dead squirrels and ferrets in the fridge – mmmmmh – as we find out the next morning over breakfast. (What was that we ate last night??)

At Mama’s we meet some extreme cyclers, two from Belgium and two from England, who have checked into the other two bungalows, so that takes the area’s foreigner-count up to a grand six. We have a great evening together eating local noodle soup, drinking beer and exchanging stories. Oh and did I mention Mama’s karaoke? 🙂 The English couple are lawyers and have taken a year’s sabbatical to ride around the world by bicycle. So far they’ve only completed 14000km of their ordeal, through places such as Turkey, Iran, Khazakhstan, China and Vietnam.

(Interestingly they seem to have bees struggling with the same sharing-a-laptop problems.)

They run a blog at (http://odycycle.wordpress.com) for anyone who wants to check it out. Probably the highlights here are when Mama masters the word “lettuce”, which we teach over the course of our evening there, and her excitement when Ebru sings her a Turkish song on the karaoke box. LOL!

With the roads from around Nam Chat much improved, we get to Ponsavan before noon and have breakfast at CRATERS cafe, what looks like a hippie little bomb storage facility.

We check into a small guest house around the corner and make our way to tourist attractions. Ponsavan has temples, the plain of jars (hundreds of huge, ancient stone jars with unknown origins and purpose), fields of bomb craters galore.

Then there is the MAG information centre for that “wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee” experience. Really recommend a visit here as the harsh facts you learn here are mind boggling and add some perspective to your view of the country.

Even the tourist information office is a shocker!

There’s so much horrible bomb material around Lao and, surprisingly, they’ve used it in the most creative ways: garden fences, school bells, flower pots, furniture, ash trays and various other decor. You have to see it to believe it! There is hardly an establishment you can visit which doesn’t have mortar grenades on the bar or huge n-ton warheads balancing out the Feng Shuei. In fact, there are villages here where they make spoons and bracelets out of molten down bomb casings to try and earn some money!

If you’re coming to Lao, Ponsavan is a must visit!

– Visit the MAG centre in Ponsavan town.
– Check out the plain of jars.
– Go to the tourist information centre and look at all the dead war munitions piled around it.
– Check out the old Buddha statue a few km further down the road from the POJ.

SEE PHOTOS OF “LAO 10 Days Bike Ride Part 3 Nongtang to Ponsavan…”

SEE PHOTOS OF “LAO 10 Days Bike Ride Part4 Ponsavan to Viengthang …”