Ever heard of a museum for undetonated bombs? Probably the only such museum in the world is at the Southeast Asian country of Laos - the UXO Laos Visitors’ Centre.
The landlocked Laos, which shares its borders with Myanmar, China, Vietnam and Thailand, is often termed the 'most bombed country in the world, 'thanks' to the United States of America which showered more than 26 crore deadly explosives in this tiny country between Decemember 1964 and March 1970!
Apparently, Laos still has a lot of bombs that did not explode but lie around causing grave security threat to its citizens. The UXO Laos Visitors’ Centre, the unique museum housing bombs that were recovered from various parts of the country, is worth a visit if you are a traveller who loves history.
A reminder on the tragedies of war
The UXO Laos Visitors’ Centre at Luang Prabang in Laos reminds us every day why nothing good can come out of wars. The tragedies faced by the people of this country during the war were unparallelled, for during the war years, US dropped more bombs here than the number of bombs it dropped during the whole of World War 2.
Apparently, Laos was hit by a bomb load every eight minutes!
A lot of them remained unexploded, but had devastating impact even after war years. Alongside displaying a lot of detonated bombs collected from those years, the musuem also shows a documentary on how the clean-up operation was conducted, accounts of survivor stories and more. It's open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 11.30am and 1pm to 5pm. No entrance fee is charged, though donations are encouraged.
Why the bombs?
It was during the historic Vietnam war that the US bombarded Laos too. The country ended up in the US’ hit list after a political party in Laos announced their affinity to Northern Vietnam. The US attacked Laos in an attempt to cut off all the land ways through which materials were supplied to Vietnam. This changed the fate of Laos, one of the smallest nations in the continent.
Indians need no visa
Indians can visit Laos, which has just about 74 lakhs as its population, without any visa hassles. Indian passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival and stay in the country for up to thirty days. However, we need to carry an Indian passport that is valid for at least up to six months. The tourism season in Laos is from October to April.
Forests, caves, waterways and more!
The picturesque countryside are what lure visitors to this spectacular country. The lush green forests, cave complexes and the inland waterways make Laos a nature lovers’ paradise. Besides, the visitors can also enjoy adventure activities like kayaking, cycling, zip lining and trekking.
Laos is known as the land of a million elephants due to its dense and extensive forest cover. Even today, more than eighty percent of Laos’ population depend on agriculture and related jobs for livelihood. Paddy is the main crop here.
Khao Niew and ice coffee
A sticky rice called Khao Niew is the staple dish of Laos. Besides, the country produces more than 20,000 tonnes of coffee per year. Interestingly, the traditional Laos ice coffee is often served in plastic cover here. Tourism plays a pivotal role in supporting the economy of Laos that is still reeling under the ill effects of a deadly war.