Luang Prabang, Laos
|Examples of UXO being recovered in Laos in an effort to make Lao PDR a safe and economically viable nation|
After breakfast at the hotel, we hopped on a pair of the loaner bikes that our hotel provides and pedaled the short distance over to the museum on a blazingly hot and sunny Tuesday morning. There were only a few other parties (all westerners), comprised of one or two people each (no Chinese tour groups), wandering the museum during our visit. Our fear of crowds (i.e., bus-loads of Chinese tour groups) was completely unfounded, as it turned out.
|The UXO Lao Visitors Centre: bombs displayed on the entrance walkway|
|The UXO Lao Visitors Centre|
The museum is laid out with a series of large panels containing text, maps and photos, combined with many examples of the types of artillery used in the war that has since been recovered from the many affected provinces of Lao PDR (Peoples Democratic Republic, as the country has been known since 1975).
As the museum displays so clearly and succinctly
explain, about 30% of the bombs dropped during the various wars did not explode
and still pose a daily threat to the villagers of Laos. They are known as UXO, or Unexploded Ordnance. The last bombs were dropped in 1973 and yet
they still pose a daily threat in this country, well over 40 years later. These
UXO kill and maim many Lao people every year, a good proportion of them children who have
not yet been educated on the dangers of UXO or are actively searching them out
in order to sell them for scrap metal or in the tourism industry. The presence of these UXO also makes farming
difficult and dangerous in many areas of the country, making it challenging for
the villagers to earn even a modest living, simply out of fear, or worse, death
or dismemberment of a family member.
|Reading of the horrors of war and examining the samples of UXO being recovered by UXO Lao|
On a brighter note, the museum discusses the work being done by the UXO Lao organization, from education to clearing land of these dangerous UXO.
|The UXO Lao Visitors Centre|
It was a well-done and very sobering exhibit and definitely an experience that will surely remain with me long after we return home. I highly recommend a visit on your next visit to Luang Prabang.
|A sobering display panel at the UXO Vistors Centre|
|A typical big bomb, filled with hundreds of smaller "bombies," which continue to pose a significant to the villages of Laos|
|After visiting the UXO Lao Visitors Centre, we took a pleasant ride across the river|
|Bamboo bridge crossing the Nam Khan River in Laung Prabang, as seen from the Viewpoint Restaurant, which makes the best "lemon soda" in town. Although we have walked across this rickety structure, this is NOT the bridge we rode our bikes over!|
|Lunch after the museum at the charming and delicious Le Banneton Café & French Bakery on Luang Prabang's main street|
|Riding back to the hotel after lunch|
|Aaaand, back at the pool!|