Laos: Legacies of War and a Promising Future

Riding through the countryside of Laos’ remote Xieng Khouang province, we spied verdant rolling hills, villagers of all ages escorting livestock on the dusty roadside, and giant craters disfiguring the landscape. For an instant, these cavities in the red earth evoked images of sand traps on golf courses. However, with Laos’ unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most bombed country per capita, not much golf is being played here.

Guided by a local father-and-son team, we had embarked on a day trip to visit the country’s mysterious archaeological treasure: the Plain of Jars. We would also visit two villages: Ban Naphia and Ban Tajok, nicknamed ‘Spoon Village’ and ‘Bomb Village,’ respectively.

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Dog Tags and Medals For Sale in a Vietnamese Market

All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.  François Fénelon

On a bustling road leading to Hué’s once-grand Imperial City are sidewalk plots where vendors sell antique blue and white china, happy Buddha statues, and items reminding passersby of tragic chapters in Vietnam’s history. The items are harmoniously intermingled: North Vietnamese battle awards, French and American insignia, dog tags of South Vietnamese and American soldiers.

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Photo du Jour: An Imperial City Destroyed By War – Hué, Vietnam

Many of the walls of Hué’s Imperial Enclosure and Forbidden Purple City bear the scars of war from decades past. There are walls devoured by mortar rounds and brick façades pock-marked by bullets.

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