Stray Travel’s Bus Tour – Long Thaang Pass – Day 5: Phonsavan to Luang Prabang
Depart: 12:00pm - Phonsavan - Arrive: 06:30pm - Luang Prabang
Visit a couple of the Plain of Jars sites, head to a "Spoon Man" who melts down old bombs and makes spoons and jewellery out of it, then back to Luang Prabang.
The last day of Stray Travel's Long Thaang Bus Tour. It had been an enjoyable time, with a few ups and downs, but mostly very enjoyable. Alas, it is our last day. How will we spend it? On the mini van of course!
The previous night in Phonsavan, we visited a restaurant to pre-order our breakfast and packed lunches. This morning we sat down for breakfast and were pleasantly surprised by how wonderful our meals were. On a whim, Andrew and I had both ordered the porridge sets. Porridge! Not only did we get a tasty bowl of porridge but also a fruit platter and a lovely cup of tea. What a start to the day.
We also ordered two muffins for the bus and a sandwich each for lunch. If we can only hold out until lunch before eating them. Craters Cafe in Phonsavan, thank you for bringing delight to our tummies!
Breakfast eaten and we were off to check out the Plain of Jars. We were to visit two sites this morning. We were both quite excited about this. The Plain of Jars is one of those "You must see this" places in the world and we were heading there now!
There are three Plain of Jars sites. The first we visited was site 1. Entry was 10,000 Kip each. No guide or information was provided so we mostly had to figure out stuff on our own.
The stone jars themselves date back to approximately 2000 years ago. No one is entirely clear on their purpose although there are lots of legends involving giants and storing vast amounts of rice wine.
The site also saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Laotian civil war. The jars happen to sit on a raised plateau. Whoever controls the plateau controls access to much of the rest of Laos. Along with fighting on the ground there was also extremely intense bombing by the US over many years. Although much has been done to clear the areas immediately around the jars you should still be careful to stay on the marked paths.
After a short but bumpy bus ride we arrived at site 3. There was another 10,000 Kip per person entry fee. Again, no guide although the Stray Travel guys knew their way through the surrounding farmland.
After a short uphill walk through some fields we arrived at a fenced off area containing more jars. We were running short of time so we skipped site 2.
Our last real stop on Stray's Long Thaang Bus Tour was at a "Bomb Spoon" Village. This is quite the controversial village. Most of the men in this village melt down old bombs and bombies that have been found in Laos and turn them into spoons, chopsticks, bangles and other little trinkets.
Pretty cool that people have found something to do with all those bombs that had fallen on Laos in the past. However, many people die every year from unexploded bombs going off. People are paid for finding bombs to be melted into other items. Untrained people seeking out and attempting to retrieve bombs has some obvious risks and that has made offering payment a controversial practice.
Anyways, back to the "Bomb Spoon" Village. We were lucky to be shown exactly how the old bombs are melted down, and then poured into wooden moulds of spoons. Some of us on the tour had a go at making our own spoons. Both Andrew and I declined. I was feeling a little fragile that day and molten metal and sandals are not a great combination. Everyone looked like they had a great time.
We were able to purchase items to take with us. Various trinkets, spoons of all sizes. chopsticks and bangles at a cost of 5000 Kip per item. We ended up buying four sets of chopsticks and four spoons. All up, it cost us 40,000 Kip. Not bad for items that we will use when we get back home. What a story!
A quick stop at a russian tank had us all standing around looking at a completely gutted war tank. It sits beside the road as a reminder that the Russians were supplying the Pathet Lao with weapons. It has long since been stripped of anything of value.
We then stopped at a road side stall to pick up various types of snacks and we were on our way to Luang Prabang. Phonsavah is around 270 kilometres from Luang Prabang. At around 40 kms per hour, it will take between 6 and 7 seven hours to drive. This will be a very long last day in the mini van.
Not much happened during this time except we ate our muffins, ate our sandwiches, and ate our snacks. I finished off a novel I started yesterday called "Into The Wild" and then we listened to more podcasts.
During the long journey back to Luang Prabang, we made a couple of further stops. One was at a roadside restaurant where we all had fried noodles or noodle soup. Very tasty indeed. We also got to see a very beautiful sight. A dog and cat so happy and content with each other. So sweet.
And that was it. At about 6:00pm, We were finally back in Luang Prabang and very happy to be off the bus. Simon, our guide, had organised our accommodation for us along the way and we got dropped off at the door.
Stray's Long Thaang Pass Bus Tour was over. We had seen a lot of Laos, experienced a lot of Laos, and sat in a bus a lot. Priceless.
Total Expenditure For The Day:
Last Night's Accommodation - A hotel in Phonsavah: 80,000 Kip
Breakfast and a packed lunch:
2 x Porridge Sets (12,000 each) - 24,000 Kip
2 x muffin sets for the bus (18,000 each) - 36,000 Kip
Salami Sandwich - 22,000 Kip
Chicken Sandwich - 25,000 Kip
Plain of Jars Site I Tickets (10,000 each) - 20,000 Kip
Plain of Jars Site III Tickets (10,000 each) - 20,000 Kip
Snacks and Crap - 10,000 Kip
Toilet break (2,000 Kip each) - 4,000 Kip
Tipped the driver and tour guide (amount hidden)
Total Expenditure For The Day = 241,000 Kip
- Stray Travel Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Pre Day 1
- Stray Travel Bus Tour Day 1 - Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw
- Stray Travel Bus Tour Day 2 - Nong Khiaw to Vieng Thong
- Stray Travel Bus Tour Day 3 - Vieng Thong to Vieng Xai
- Stray Travel Bus Tour Day 4 - Vieng Xai to Phonsavan
- Stray Travel Bus Tour Day 5 - Phonsavan to Luang Prabang
- Stray Travel Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass Review