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Xieng Khouang Province, Laos

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Panoramic landscape of Laos at Xieng Khouang.

Xieng Khouang is a province in northern Laos. It is becoming more and more famous among tourists to Southeast Asia, as it is the place to view the mysterious Plains of Jars. The best way to reach Xieng Khouang - as we did - is to fly from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Xieng Khouang presently (2006) has a population of about 200,000. It was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, mostly by the Americas. Today, twenty years after the war, there are still UXO's (Unexploded Ordnance, that's to say, mines, shells, grenades, bombs) that continue to injure and maim the folks in this rural province.

For much of its history, Xieng Khouang has been something of a battleground, the reason mostly due to its location, between the capitals of Laos and Vietnam. As it is a highlands plains, the weather here is pleasantly cool, and during the end of the year, can get quite chilly at night.

Xieng Khouang was briefly ruled by the Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang. The Siamese and Vietnamese have also ruled it at other times. When Vietnam annexed it in 1830, the local inhabitants were forced to adopt Vietnamese dressing and custom. Any attempts by the proudly independent Xieng Khouang people to be independent have usually been thwarted by one of its many powerful neighbours.

The provincial capital of Xieng Khouang is Phonsavan, a town that was established when an earlier capital was wiped out during the Vietnam War.

The countryside in Xieng Khouang is breathtakingly beautiful, untouched, and as of now, still not fully exploited by tourism. Its distance off the main tourist paths is a main reason why Xieng Khouang has been kept so pristine. However, the number of visitors to the Plain of Jars - which Unesco is working to establish as a World Heritage Site - has been on the increase year after year.

Arrival at Xieng Khoang Airport, which is more an airfield. Touch down was kinda rough on the gravel landing strip.

After visiting the Plain of Jars, we has our lunch at this little shed near the jars site.

This is the kitchen of that eatery. I like the rural feel of it. We had a simple dish of noodle with egg.

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