Ever since I first heard about the Plain of Jars, its a site I’ve wanted to see for myself. It was on my list along with the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the Nascar Lines in the Peruvian Desert.
I finally got to visit Laos recently and I wasn’t disappointed!
There are approximately 90 jar sites scattered around the Xieng Khouang Plateau. Unfortunately only 3 of these are safe to visit. As a bit of a history lesson, during the Vietnam war, Laos, and particularly this region in Laos, was bombed heavily by the US ,even though war was never declared on Laos. Laos was simply the innocent victim in this conflict. Its estimated 80 million cluster bombs failed to explode and are simply waiting to do so.
The area shows heavy evidence still of this conflict, bomb craters, deforestation and the buildings are all recent.
Although the 3 open sites have been cleared of unexploded munitions, its highly recommended that visitors remain on the well worn walking paths in this area.
The Laos government is apparently keen to get the site recognised by Unesco, however one the of reasons hindering this is the unexploded munitions in the area. Its will be years before this will be cleared, as its a priority to clear areas in villages and farming areas. People are starving in Laos as they cannot develop more land or even safely work their own fields. In the meantime, the Jars are being damaged and urgently need greater protection.
The Jars are estimated to be from between 500BC & 500AD. Its not really known exactly what they were for as further research is needed, but its considered most likely for funerary reasons as human remains have been found. Some jars have lids, others rims which indicate they may have also had lids originally. Most are undecorated, except for one which shows a depiction of a “frog man”. Unfortunately many are badly damaged due to the bombings and even perhaps more unfortunately, due to tourism.
If you wish to know more about the Plain of Jars, the Wikipedia page makes interesting reading.