Scars From a Rain of Bombs
Laos was the most heavily bombed country on the planet. During the Secret War in the 60’s and 70’s, the United States and its allies were fighting the spead of communism. An estimated total of 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on the country.
The Xieng Kuang province was one of the most bombed regions in Laos, and decades later, the landscape still shows open scars of this terrible History. In the north of the the town of Phonsavan, not far from the “Bomb Village“, huge craters dot the countryside. You can move around the map below, you will see a real constellation of bomb craters all over the countryside.
It is difficult to imagine that this peaceful field was hit by such extreme violence only a few decades ago. And when you see the size and the number of craters, how close they are from each other, you realize that it’s a true rain of bombs that has fallen here. Terrifying thought.
Here are some scary numbers:
- 580,000 bombing missions
- A B-52 bomber’s load of bombs dropped on Laos every 8 minutes, 24/7, for 9 years
- This equals to 270 million cluster bombs, or 2 million tons of bombs
- Up to 80 million of these bombs did not detonate, and are still mutilating and killing people, today.
Most of us have heared of wars from TV or books, it feels tragic but a little abstract. When you are standing there in this countryside, with all these huge holes all around you, knowing that each of them is the result of a powerful explosion, suddenly it all feels very real and tangible.
It seems that these bomb craters will mark this landscape forever.
Nowadays, the province is still struggling with all the unexploded ordnance contaminating the land, complicating (and risking) the lives of the farmers, and greatly penalizing economical development, because contaminated land is simply unusable.
GPS: 19°34’42.17″N, 103°19’12.56″E
Best way to go: Tour with your guesthouse in Phonsavan
Entrance: Free / included in the tour
Duration of visit: 15-20 mins
Best season: October to March. Altitude 1200 m, climate is cooler than other parts of Laos.