Objectives for the Day:
- Get our daily baguette from our favorite Laotion vendor
- Bike ride over to the UXO Bomb Museum
- Cross the bike bridge to see the handicraft village
- Try the interesting restaurant across the Friendship Bridge known as Dyen Sabai
When Khoun drove us to the center of town, he actually decided to give us the more “scenic” route. Unpaved roads, suburban homes and a giant soccer field! Apparently there was a huge soccer match- Vientiane vs Luang Prabang (for those of you who follow Lao soccer) – and to celebrate, there were professionals jumping out of planes with the Laos PDR flag! #exciting
When we finally arrived in the center of town, away from flying men, we ordered our baguette of choice and paired it with a cup of hot Lao coffee from our self-proclaimed favorite vendor…
THE BIKE TOUR CONTINUES: After a hearty breakfast we jumped on our bikes and pedaled in the direction of the Bomb Museum; however we passed it three times before we figured out where to turn. When we arrived, I was expecting a large museum, marble floors and shiny bullets… however I saw the complete opposite.
WAKE UP CALL: The bomb museum was a one-room display of leftover posters and artifacts from the war. I started to read the posters so I could get a better understanding, and realized that, “between the years 1964 and 1973, the United States flew more than half a million bombing missions, delivering more than two million tons of explosive ordnance, in an attempt to block the flow of North Vietnamese arms and troops through Laotian territory. The ordnance dropped included more than 266 million submunitions (known as “bombies” in Lao) released from cluster bombs” that are still active today…
As someone who is against war in general, I got really emotionally walking through the museum. I’m pretty sure I turned multiple shades of red at every poster…
- Tears started to form when I saw the poster of little children missing limbs because they thought they were playing with a shiny ball.
- They played us a film that gave us insight on how farmers (who lost limbs while working) are affected by the bombs; after losing an arm or a leg, they cannot work on the field and therefore, their entire family suffers- the kids cannot go to school because they have to find work, food is scarce and life is difficult.
- It only got worse when I realized that Lao children have to learn about these “bombies” at school through puppets… needless to say I hit my breaking point.
- If you’d like to learn more, you can read about our experience on Ollie’s blog here .
- ONE MORE THING: I don’t know how, but the Lao people do not hate us and they do not place blame, they’re just doing their best to clean up the bombs to prevent them from exploding in the future so I encourage you to donate to the UXO website to help them clean up the land.
After the bomb museum, I think it’s fair to say that all of us were in a little shock. Can you say, “wake-up call?” Luckily our bike ride to the handicraft village was pretty long, so it gave me time to process all of the information I just about the “bombies”. And when we arrived at the handicraft village, the bomb museum was still on my mind… so pretty scarves didn’t even phase me.
But they are pretty, aren’t they?
Since we were in no mood to continue sight-seeing, we all decided to grab lunch at the restaurant across the bridge called Dyen Sabai. We sat on pillows, accessed wifi and dug our hands into sticky rice and some amazing dipping sauces.
In the next post, find out where we spent the rest of the afternoon and night…