laos 4: phonsavan—dead cats, freezing nights and the plain of jars


I will never forget Phonsavan. It is a strange town—in the middle of absolutely nowhere an entire congregation of ugly cement and brick buildings flung far away from wide expanses of brown, barren, dusty roads.

It took me nine long gruelling hours to reach this remote outpost, driving endlessly through convoluted winding roads hugging blue-green hills high up in the skies till I could taste my breakfast in my mouth over and over again. Moral of the ride: Never have bacon and egg bagels before driving off to nowhere!

Phonsavan is the main town of Xieng Khouang province, one of the poorest provinces of an already poor country. The town was established in the 1970s and sprawls out from a meaningless centre with no plan or direction. Public transport is limited and sporadic. It is illegal to rent your own vehicle here. None of the streets are named or at least the names are not used. There are no public phones and the weather is bitingly, freezingly, heartlessly cold. Phonsavan is neither friendly nor unfriendly. It just doesn’t care at all. Continue reading