Wat Phia Wat and its focal point — a war-scarred Buddha statue — are only 30 kilometers from Phonsavan. Given Laos’ rugged dirt roads, we were not eager to hop into a tuktuk and endure more bumpiness to get to this now-destroyed Laotian Buddhist temple. During an all-day tour of the Plain of Jars just a few days earlier, we’d felt like human kernels of corn being tossed in a popcorn popper! Nevertheless, to better understand the so-called American Secret War in Laos, Shawn and I felt it was important to see this Laotian region’s former capital city in Muang Khoun. (It was previously known as Xieng Khuang.)
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.