So, the entire city of Phonsavan, that ugly mistress to fate, is one big cement nightmare garble. All of it rebuilt after our American friends bombed the shit out of the Lao North East for the greater glory of the guys who build the bombs.
It is rough rooting for the home team when you see the wasteful destruction of such a beautiful country and the cruel martyrdom of such a sweet people.
But scattered outside of Phonsavan, like pebbles thrown to the wind, are the three Plain of Jars sites. Site number one is really on a plain and site number three is in a forest on a hilltop and site number two was too far to get to on a bike since I wanted to be back in the city before nightfall.
Truth is, in all my years of travel I have never seen anything quite as weird as the Plain of Jars. Three sites, as far from each other as you could possible want, have these outcroppings of huge granite jars – just sitting there, with bomb craters and paths cleared by the MAG so you don't get your feet blown off while you're walking around.
This might sound crazy, but there is something happening there and what it is ain't clear at all. At first you run by all the possibilities through your logical mind: funeral urns, rice wine jars, tables set for very large and thirsty extra-terrestrials ... Whatever the explanation, nothing can overshadow the feeling that somehow the earth had spawned this; that somehow some sort of force within the very bowels of the planet and squirmed and twisted and out came these jars.
It almost you want to reconsider feng shui until you realise that feng shui is to the forces of the earth what the monotheistic religions are to God: one grain of truth upon which were built too many mountains of bullshit.
The truth? The truth is sitting there in that pine forest, walking silently from jar to jar, with only the crunching of vegetation underfoot. The truth is in touching the things, feeling the grain of the carved rock. The truth is in the round sound of the cowbells from the cattle in the meadow. The truth is in beauty and freedom.