Been there but never seen it

I was blessed with a job where I had the opportunity to travel internationally even if it is just around Southeast Asia. However, while I am a jetsetter by the standard of some of my friends, I have yet to see the places that I’ve been.

I never thought that it was possible to visit a place and “never see it.” I think my experience exemplifies this. If you ever heard of some people telling you that you’ve never been to this place unless you’ve visited this place (or something close to this context)—this is my case. To give you a more vivid picture, it is like visiting Quezon City without visiting QC Circle or visiting Sydney without visiting the Sydney Opera House. You’ve been there but never seen it.

In my case, most of my travels were “official” that it felt like hit-and-run trips. I guess I have my thriftiness to blame for this. During my employment, we were saving for our ticket to Perth. And probably the biggest reason—my girls. If I could only take them to each of my trip then it would have been nice to stay a little longer and enjoy. So, there you go, I have a very legit reason for visiting the place and yet not “seeing” it.

For this trip to Cambodia and Laos, I guess I tried hard to insert some recreation in this business trip. I did not have the luxury of doing it in Cambodia but my colleague in Laos made it possible for me to insert a field day to Laos’ famous tourist spots.

Plain of jars

just the few of the jars in Xiangkhouang, Laos

The field trip to the plain of jars was quite impressive as it seems to be a natural phenomenon but no one has yet to come up with a definitive answer as to the origins of the jars. Add to the excitement of touring the place was the fear of stepping on unexploded ordinances (UXOs). These war junks were left by Americans at the height of the Vietnam War. Many parts of Laos were bombed including the province that I visited–Xiangkhouang. Xiangkhoung Province is, in fact, one of the world’s most bombed provinces in the most bombed country in the world.


looks like a big loo but it's a BIG jar

The participation of the US in the clean-up of the war remnants, I think, is only limited to the US-funded UXO-clearance projects through non-government organisations. It was not surprising that the US do not have a post-conflict plan—they did it in Manila where they left a number of areas in their former bases tainted with radio-active wastes among others.

Bomb crater

A bomb crater in the midst of the plain of jars.

cluster bombs

what used to be cluster bombs.

Anyway, the good news is that I can now say that I’ve been to Xiangkhouang and seen it! 🙂


4 thoughts on “Been there but never seen it

  1. How about living your whole life in one country and not even knowing some of the things mentioned in the tourist books about your country actually exist? ;/

    • 😀 exactly, that’s why I made sure that I have travelled to most parts of the Philippines (thanks to my job, again)…unless I read something in some travel books about the Philippines that I’ve never been to then yay! that’s a tragedy.. 😉

  2. i soooo envy you jim! i never really had the time (or the time to feel an inspiration, i guess) to write about my experiences. sometimes, i would start writing something then i would suddenly feel lost for words. then before i know it, its time to move on. hay……but at least ive read this and in the future, whenever i suddenly felt an inspiration, i can always go back to this and be kept inspired to write.

    thanks jim! this was really something for me!

    • thanks marlyn don’t worry, I also go through those stages, took about a month for me to write again, but I’m trying to get back to my blogging chores–an investment for something big… and yes, memories are priceless, it’s really nice to blog about them and visit them in the future, you’ll learn a thing or two… 😀

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