We arrived in Phonsavan, shocked by how much cooler it was, we grabbed a few jumpers from our bags and then had a look in our guide-book to see where to stay. We found a place that sounded great so started to walk there. Funnily enough when we arrived most of our bus had the same idea! We arrived at ‘KongKeo Guesthouse’, here we had our own little bungalow, no heating but an extra blanket and really hot showers! The owner and his family were so welcoming and make you feel at home. Theres a common area outside with a fire pit to keep you warm and beers in the fridge. Kong, the ower explained to us that Keo in the name KongKeo Guesthouse is his brother’s name and that their dad named the Guesthouse for them. We stayed 2 nights here for 140,000 kip per night.
Once we had checked in we had a walk to get some lunch and then stopped off at the ‘MAG UXO Information Centre’. Here we watched a short documentary on cluster bomb survivors and how the charity helps them. It explains why the American’s targeted Laos in the America/Vietnam war and why there are so many live bombs still in Laos. It was really interesting and in the shop you can buy crafts that survivors or survivors families have made. Later that evening we went to ‘Bamboozle’ for dinner which was great and reasonable. (They also donate a percentage of your bill towards education for children in the area) We had a quick look around the night market, found ourselves playing their version of roulette which includes 6 animals you place your money on, then you roll three dice if your animal comes up you double your money (Or that’s what we thought was going on). It was quite chilly so we headed back to chill by the fire. Here we met a French photographer who was over for the Hmong New Year celebrations. It sounded great to go and see so we decided we would take a visit there tomorrow.
The next day most of the guesthouse was going out with the owner Kong on a tour of the ‘Plain of Jars’, if there is enough of you he will drive you around to all 3 sites and give you a guided tour for 200,000 Kip. As we wanted to see the New year celebrations we decided to rent a bike and do our own thing. The bike cost us 80,000 Kip for the day but it felt like it was going to fall apart! We went to the area that the Hmong people were celebrating their new year. It was amazing to see everyone dressed in traditional outfits. They had bull fighting which we stood high up on a hill to watch. The Laos people just stand there calmly as a bull runs toward the crowd. At the top of the hill there was the young adults performing traditional song and dance, it’s here they meet their future husband or wife.
After experiencing the Hmong new year celebrations we set off to the first Plain of Jars site. Here they have an information centre to read up on about the Plain of Jars. They’re still unsure what they were for or how they got there. Maybe they used to be cups for giants? We had a walk around, due to the Hmong new year there was a lot of Hmong people having photo shoots around the jars, but it was interesting to watch. At the Plain of Jars site one, there is also a cave you can go into with a shrine inside and lots of bees nests on the outside, so watch out! That evening when we got back we went for dinner at ‘Lao-Falang Italian’ restaurant where we had incredible Italian food! It was pricey but so worth the treat! We arranged with Kong our bus to Sam Neua the next day and we headed back for an early night.
Tip: When renting a bike take it of a test run, we tried out 3 and they all seemed to have an issue, it’s probably easier and safer just to go on a tour.