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Military Base + Photos = Security Forces!!!!!

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 20, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I had a pleasant surprise knock on the bedroom door this morning 🙂 It was after I had walked up the street to a place called Craters [ N19.45050 E103.21790 ]for breakfast, they had all these left over bombs and other military gear decorating the place, it was a short walk from my hotel. After the revelation of last nights movies, it brought it home to me that there is a lot of discarded war material that is being used in unique ways.

Breakfast was OK, but they need to lean how to do soft runny eggs, but other than that it was nice 🙂 So, as I left here to go back to my room, I had seen this 4WD with foreign plates and I realised it was the two Irish and 1 Kiwi that I had met up in Luang Namtha. Here are Fintan and Shonny(Irish) and Reuben the Kiwi.

Fintan and Shonny had done what I failed to do, they had driven from Ireland through China but had entered it from Russia. Reuben is a friend who flew in to join them and travel for a short while, these were the same people Eric was going to meet up in Boten while I was getting my part in Thailand. We had discussed this a few days ago but I had forgotten about it. Their experience of China was crap, expensive, horrible drivers and they said I was lucky to have missed it!! They had heard of our experience, they had used the same company and had many many troubles with bad paperwork. In one specific instance, Shonny was listed as a male driver on her licence!!! Anyway, they had heard some things, one being Ms Lui, who was our and their liaison, had been sacked over our experience. Benny our guide had put in an official complaint to the Chinese police about the wanker we had in our group, and this was THE reason we were refused entry on the 2nd leg. No matter what we did, it takes 45 days to draw up and get approved a tourist schedule through China. Because we did not want to ride with the wanker, we had no way of getting new papers cut, the approved schedule had those two names on it and thus we were locked out, all because of the wanker!!!

Anyway, I had seen the car and could not find them, so I sent an SMS to Reuben and waited while doing some blog work, that was when the knock on the door came about 30 minutes later 🙂 We had a chat down at one of the cafes and chilled for a bit, but they were heading today to the south, so after a short time, they headed off, maybe we will catch up in a day or so, who knows, this is a small area to travel in 🙂 Nice meeting you guys 🙂

As I had been slack recently, I decided to try and catch up on my blog a bit. I figured if I could do at least 2 entries a day, I would still have time for sight seeing as Phonsavan itself had no sights but they are dotted all around this area. There were some specific ones I wanted to see, the MIG fighters and the old tanks, plus of course the Plain of Jars. After a blogging morning I ventured out and checked out the market area just up the street from my place. A few of the places here were using bomb leftovers for the decorations 🙂

That place was just being built and not open yet, but the next place was, the 1 Million Star Garden, it was probably called this because it was an open air bar.

After that I went down to the place Reuben had mentioned, across the road from Craters was the MAG, or Mines Action Group display room. In here was a history of the area with a lot of details about the ordnance left over, called UXO or UneXploded Ordnance and what they were trying to do about it. I bought a Tshirt to show my support. 🙂 I won’t post everything, but there is a lot of info on their website here

Because they are a poor people and cannot use their land, they harvest old bombs, but they then die, but the problem did get addressed by having the foundries refuse to buy war scrap 😦

As some of the UXO are so huge, they can still explode sending shrapnel at ballistic speed for up to a kilometre, so it is not just a case of blowing them up in situ, they need to be disarmed before removing them, this is dangerous work!!

UXO is the biggest problem in this country!

That was some serious heavy stuff and I reckon this story really needs to be told, maybe the American people can get their government to help physically rather than monetarily, by lobbying their local pollies! What could I do? After talking with Veo from the Lau Falang bar, he agreed that more needed to be done to bring tourists to this region. Well, I could help there 🙂 When I looked at for the published Geocaches in Laos, there was a total of 8 and there were none in this area. It is off the main road from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, the capitol, so I figured there may be an opportunity to seed a few caches in the area. To do that though, I would need a local representative to be a ‘cache maintainer’ and Veo agreed to be that person, cool 🙂

The next thing to do was go and see some of the sights but I also needed a supply of containers, preferably waterproof ones that could be turned into a cache. What I did was hire a Chinese bike from Veo and went to the market. It took some effort but in the end I came away with some plastic containers that could be used, plus log books, pens and pencils and plastic bags to keep the log books in. These were not the ideal containers, but they would do the trick. There was a lot on offer at the market, especially if you like live food 🙂

Once I had taken all my goodies back to the room, I had a choice of where to go. The tanks and bomb crater areas were about 20-30km away and as it was 4.30pm I decided to go look at the MIG fighters down near the airport. I had some way points in my GPS and I selected one, if you look at the following map, you can see the blue track where I travelled. The MIG way point to the left of the green golf course is where I was headed. Now, remember, I have never been here so I do not know what to expect and what I saw when I arrived at that point was nothing!!! I was in a residential street with houses around and nothing to see, hmmm. If you look at the map, there are other MIG way points inside the airport itself.

I was only a few km from town and decided to keep riding and see if the view gets better. I came to this large white double arched entrance way, it had the numbers in large letters, 1949 – 1989 or something like that and it looked to be an entrance to maybe the airport. I stopped and took a photo, there was nobody around so I rode on through. You can see from the blue line where I left the main road, headed south then east and that was when I ran into problems. I could not see any fighters but I did see a collection of large field guns, so I stopped and took a photo, well that sure stirred up the natives!!!!!

I was soon surrounded by some angry army dudes who made me delete the two photos of the entrance and the guns, and I was then taken over to where a group were playing boccie or something. I turned my helmet camera off at this stage. This new group got excited and after a while an English speaking chap turned up and I explained my error, saying that I was looking for the MIG fighters and that there were no guards on the gate to stop me and no signs saying keep out. I apologised of course and explained that the photos were deleted, he then went through them to check.

I had no passport on me, because when you hire a bike here they take it as deposit. After a while I was driven
under armed guards to the local security force HQ in town, the local police in actual fact and I once again explained my plight to the locals. This all took time and eventually I was seated in an interview room, next to me was Veo who had brought my passport and they started to ask questions again. But, it was now gone 6pm and it turns out the cops have a piss up on and asked me if I could come back tomorrow morning at 8am, in the meantime they would hold my passport, my digital camera, my helmet camera(with no SD card in it) but left me my GPS which has a camera and my iPhone which has a camera, I had already posted on Facebook my situation in case I was locked up.

So, I agreed and Veo and I headed back to the pub, where once again I had missed the first half hour of the CIA – The Secret War, bugger!!! Veo assured me not to worry, as the police did not really think I was a security problem, most people that are going to cause problems do not ride in the front gate, even if they are good at double bluffing 🙂 So, I had some dinner and a few more beers and another chat with Veo, discussing the issue and also the Geocaching sights which he was keen on, I would check them out tomorrow, assuming my arse was not in jail 🙂

Cheers from Phonsavan

2 Responses to “Military Base + Photos = Security Forces!!!!!”

  1. ha ha , classic Rich,we too had trouble getting close to migs apart from a fence way off ,so we couldnt get a decent shot with are camera,looks like they have spruced Phonsavan a bit since we were last there
    ride safe
    cheers Clive

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