Ban Saenphan on the ho chi minh trail
Starting at Ban Langkhang off Route 12, you can join the Ho Chi Minh Trail and travel down to Ban Saenphan, which is just before the second Xe Bangfai crossing. There used to be ‘flyers’ available telling us about things of interest down the trail, but no more. Ban Saenphan itself, used to be home to two rather interesting collections of war scrap.
Just of route 12 and a short drive to Saenphan, the first is a ‘house’ which looks normal unless you know it’s not. You have to look closely to see the outer walls are not made of wood, but aluminum. Aluminum that came from crashed planes. The area was a busy chokepoint, with a lot of ‘anti aircraft guns’ nestled in the mountains. Can you imagine gathering up the metal, whilst the bombing continued from above!.
The second interesting thing to see was a collection of war scrap, particularly cluster bomb casings. They may have been collected at night when things probably slowed down and it was marginally safer, although the contents of the bombs would make it Very dangerous . Unfortunately, both collections have since been stripped. While the skeleton of the house still stands, the casings went quite some time ago, and the cladding in the last few years. I’m told both owners have passed away, and the collections sold on to the Vietnamese scrap men. The cladding would have fetched been quite a few dollars, as there was so much of it.
Seems weird the Vietnamese collected the scrap, the reason the bombs were dropped in Laos was due to the Vietnam war, with Laos being secondary. Reading the statistics you wouldn’t think that. It’s mind-boggling. It will take years to clear, and the bombs will outlast the trail and its disappearing history.