Day 231- We arrived in Phonsavan at 7:30am, it was really cold and we hadn't slept a wink on the awful bus. We got a tuk-tuk to the centre and had a walk round looking for hotels and tours of the plain of jars. We eventually found a place called 'Nice' hotel. We asked about buses and and tours and he explained that because it was low season there wasn't many tourists about so if we wanted to go we would have to pay a crazy amount of money to send a tour out just for the two of us. We debated just hiring a motorbike but we knew the roads were really bad. We put our bags in our room and then the man told us the tour agency down the road had two places left but because there was another guy wanting the tour in reception he told us to come back later and book it. We waited a while but didn't want to lose the two seats so just walked down the road our selves, it turned out to be 10,000 cheaper each than the hotel and the buses were cheaper so we just booked it all there. We had to avoid the man at reception all day though as we booked direct he lost his commission and wasn't a happy man. We grabbed some breakfast from across the road and jumped on the mini-bus. There was two Dutch girls and the rest were a big group of Malaysians who had been on our night bus. We were first taken to the Plain of Jars site 3. The plain of jars are archaeological sites containing massive stone jars, each weighing a few tonne. They date back to 500BC-500AD and nobody really knows exactly how or why they are there. They have the same sense of mystery as Stone Henge. As the stone quarries are so far away it is a mystery as to how the people got the stones to the sites without machinery. When the jars were discovered a lot of them contained bones so it is believed they were used as burial sites with another theory that they were used to make rice wine. Either way they are very interesting and mystical. At site 2 a tree had managed to grow straight through the middle of one of the jars and the stone had fused around the trunk. We stopped for some lunch- noodle soup and sticky rice (becoming slightly obsessed with sticky rice) then we were back in the van. Next we went to visit a villager who makes Lao Lao whiskey - this stuff is lethal! It was great to see how easily it is made and we all got a try - rank! Next we came across a Russian tank used during the Vietnam war. Our guide explained tanks littered the countryside after the war and most of the locals had used them for scrap metal but this one had been left for people to see, although they had stripped the inside. It kind of just sat on the hillside rusting away, scary to think what the local people went through. The final site, Site 1 had the biggest of all jars- a 6 tonner, VIP burial maybe. This site also had trench lines dug in as it was up on a hill and was used as a base during the war - these jars have survived some things! Back in the town we carried on the theme ourselves and went to 'Bombies' restaurant where the owners displayed un-exploded US bombs outside, bit scary but the food was outstanding. There seemed to be flashing lights in the distance so we walked along and found a market. It was a locals' market selling mainly clothes but also popcorn and there was rides and games to play. We noticed a stage with 5 young girls no older than 7 or 8, they seemed to be getting ready to do a dance so we went over to watch. Out of nowhere rave music blasted out and the girls started dancing so erotically. Our jaws hit the ground, we couldn't believe it. We tried not to offend the locals who were all clapping away but we couldn't help but laugh. Afterwards two even younger girls came on and did an erotic version of 'Gangnam Style' and eventually 3 boys and 3 girls came and danced together, we could hardly hide our disgust we had to leave - total culture shock.
Day 232 - We grabbed an omelette sandwich and some fried dumplings and waited for the bus, the tour operator came out and offered us some green tea, he seemed lovely. The bus pulled up and it was tiny, our bags got strapped to the top and we were on our way. After about 2 hours the heaviest rain ever started, we knew our bags would be drenched although we had put the waterproof covers on plus there was a plastic sheet over them. The rain was just so crazy they didn't stand a chance. We stopped at 1pm for a noodle soup lunch and the sun was cracking the pavement luckily! Back on the road we eventually stopped in Sam Neua at 6pm-ish. we found a decent guesthouse, checked in and went in search of food. There seemed to be nowhere to eat. We eventually came across a place selling fried rice so we settled for pork and then just chilled out back at the hotel.