on this trip i have cried several times. not because of the poverty or substandard living conditions but by the ways humans can torture each other. the senseless deaths during the nonviolent civil disobedience in Bangkok, the elephants, reading First they Killed my Father and now visiting the bombed corridor of the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. next week Cambodia.
i go to Phonsavan to see the Plain of Jars but find myself in the most bombed area of the most bombed country in the world. the amount of bombs dropped here and the ongoing impact defies imagination. i had heard of the mine fields before and the 'secret war' in Laos. i did not know that the presence of the uxo has created a vicious cycle that will continue for generations. it goes like this: uxo limits the amount of farmable land because breaking new ground equals farmers getting blown up; which leads to a shortfall in feeding their families; which leads to the collection of scrap metal and uxo; which leads to death or dismemberment. as we drive in there is a moment of panic in my mind as i am filled with the dread of coming face to face with children missing limbs but i don't see any the whole time i am in Laos.
i book a tour of the jar sites and i have an hour to kill so i ask the organizers to pick me up in front of a market i had seen about a kilometer down the road. they agree and i ask which van to look for and who is the driver. they laugh and laugh and laugh then say there will not be a problem to find me because i will be the only westerner there.