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Plain of Jars--Photography

  • thinkstopth-
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    Hi,

    I'd like to visit the Plain of Jar for a photography project. Just now starting to do research--so excuse the basic questions. I'll probably be there for a week or so, possibly returning a second time (staying with friends in Bangkok for several months). Is it possible to rent a motorcycle in Phonsavan? Are the Jar sites open for only certain hours? The best light is at dawn/dusk, so is it possible to be in the sites during those time periods? If I could pick, I'd love to be there when there are dramatic skys, great light.

    Any SPECIFIC recommendations for times to visit, travel there, hotels, motocycle rentals, people to talk to, guidebooks, restaurants, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

    I have this DVD:

    Global Treasures PLAIN OF JARS Laos

    And the latest Lonely Planet Laos guidebook for starts.

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks! After a few more days of research I should be able to ask a lot more specific questions... :)

    Jon
    www.jonwitsell.com

    #1 Posted: 11/12/2012 - 13:54

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  • thinkstopth-
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    Sorry about that mess above!!

    Hi,

    I'd like to visit the Plain of Jar for a photography project. Just now starting to do research--so excuse the basic questions. I'll probably be there for a week or so, possibly returning a second time (staying with friends in Bangkok for several months). Is it possible to rent a motorcycle in Phonsavan? Are the Jar sites open for only certain hours? The best light is at dawn/dusk, so is it possible to be in the sites during those time periods? If I could pick, I'd love to be there when there are dramatic skys, great light.

    Any SPECIFIC recommendations for times to visit, travel there, hotels, motocycle rentals, people to talk to, guidebooks, restaurants, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

    I got this DVD:

    Global Treasures PLAIN OF JARS Laos

    And the latest Lonely Planet Laos guidebook for starts.

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks! After a few more days of research I should be able to ask a lot more specific questions... :)

    Jon

    www.jonwitsell.com

    #2 Posted: 11/12/2012 - 14:00

  • thinkstopth-
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    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 24

    Anyone?

    #3 Posted: 13/1/2013 - 03:02

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2300
    Total reviews: 47

    Hi Jon,

    I'm afraid I haven't been for years, but when I visited Phonsavan , I just hired a guide to take me out to the jars sites by car. It wasn't expensive and it was worth it for me. We visited several of the sites, which were open during typical daylight hours. Phonsavan was largely a dusty but quite charming crossroads back then. I imagine it is much more sophisticated now.

    Hopefully people who have been more recently will chime in with more current information. Good luck.

    #4 Posted: 13/1/2013 - 11:41

  • somtam2000

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    We had a researcher there very recently - he's actually on the way back to Laos now (I think) have belled him to see if he has any ideas.

    cheers

    #5 Posted: 14/1/2013 - 07:31

  • mooball

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    Location Australia
    Posts: 241

    Motorbike rental in phonsavan is easy. I had massive problems with one company on the main road next to craters cafe. The bike was deadly so I tried to return it after about an hour. They didn't want anything to do with me, so argument ensued. Better to rent a bike at Lao Falang restaurant across from nice hotel. Good bikes and nice people.

    You can easily ride to all the jars sites and you can get in whenever you like as the ticket offices are simple ticket booths. No high fences or anything.

    A couple of nice places to eat. Bamboozle is a new joint with western standards. Nisha for Indian. A place a forget the name of up the road which serves massive cheap portions of Lao food - I reviewed it so it should be on this site.

    Hotels are very hit and miss in phonsavan. I found a nice Vietnamese place off the main road. Brand new, hot water, cable TV, wifi. 70,000. Probably the pick of the bunch. Also on this site.

    #6 Posted: 14/1/2013 - 17:04

  • thinkstopth-
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    Hey Mooball,

    I tried to find your two reviews through your profile page, but no luck. Mind pointing me to them?

    I appreciate the post!

    Jon

    #7 Posted: 15/1/2013 - 11:48

  • somtam2000

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    At least 113

    Hey Jon, think mooball is pointing you to the destination guide for Phonsavan on Travelfish (which he researched late last year and I'm still updating). The accommodation bit is here.

    Cheers

    #8 Posted: 15/1/2013 - 19:54

  • Klozknitz

    Joined Travelfish
    20th December, 2012
    Posts: 5

    We're just back from 2 1/2 weeks in Laos (writing this at 5.30 AM thanks to jetlag) and we really loved the PDJ. I envy you with a week to photograph, that sounds fabulous. I can't help you with motorbike rental, we were only there two nights, but I do have some recommendations for you.

    Hotels: we stayed in Anou Lack and in White Orchid as AL only had space for one night. They we both fine, with mediocre breakfast but hot showers, although at 200,000 kip I think you can find much cheaper places. I don't know when you're planning on going, but at New Year's this place was COLD! No heating and drafty windows and flimsy duvets made for restless nights. Make sure you bring many layers as early mornings are foggy and cold as well.

    PDJ: I think I would recommend going on a guided tour first so you can learn more about the history and see where everything is before heading out on your own. We were found at the airport by a travel agent/guide whose tour we booked the next day. His name was Noud (sp?) and his agency was across from the UXO center and the mini mart and more or less next to Craters. It's a tiny shack with no door but his wife makes a very good dinner on the open air grill if you can stand the cold. Make sure you ask for guide Mr. Tey. His driver was very good and we found his guiding to be excellent. His English was very good and he had a passion and knowledge for the subject that kept us captivated throughout the day. The other good point of going through this agency was that they will also take you to site 4, unvisited by other guides. You start in a village and walk past monks and through rice paddies. The jars themselves are not dramatically located, but it's a different perspective. I can't recommend him highly enough. We paid (along with two fabulous South Africans we joined up with, 4 in all) 300,000 kip each. It was well worth it. When you return on your own for photography, site 1 is incredibly beautiful and dramatic.

    Another tip: the T. Sun mart is owned and operated by a Lao woman who studied 6 years in California and sounds completely American, the best English we heard our entire trip. The shop has a great selection of western wine and booze and she was very interesting if she happens to be there (she lives in Vientiane most of the time). She may be able to help with translation if you're trying to organise more complicated, less predictable travel. In any case, it's a great place to stop in if you need a taste of the familiar.

    Please let us know when you're back, I'd love to see some of your photos! We loved it there and I hope you will, too.

    #9 Posted: 15/1/2013 - 22:46

  • thinkstopth-
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    Hey Mooball, thanks for the info! I'm assuming you mean the Sabaidee Guesthouse?

    Great info on the motorcycle rental. That's very important for me to know. Looks like I won't have a problem finding a place to eat!

    Thanks again. Timely info!

    Jon

    #10 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 01:45

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  • mooball

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    No wonder you couldn't find it. It has 2 names, but one is in Vietnamese and that's the one I remembered. It's this one. Top choice.

    http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/laos/northern_laos/xieng_khuang/phonsavan/all/5498

    #11 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 06:22

  • thinkstopth-
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    Ah! Ok, cool. Thanks for that. Seems like a great place to stay. I'd better get going on learning a bit of Lao... :)

    #12 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 07:43

  • thinkstopth-
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    Hi Klozknitz!

    Thanks for the long post. Excellent tip about the guide. That's what I think I'll do: get a good guide to see all the sites and get the lay of the land and then hit all the sites by motorcycle.

    I've got long underwear, layers, warm jacket, gloves, and a beanie. I'll probably be leaving before dawn on a couple of days, so I figure it is going to be a bit chilly.

    I'll check out the Sun mart, the owner sound interesting.

    Thanks for all the info!

    Jon
    www.jonwitsell.com

    #13 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 07:52

  • thinkstopth-
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    Another question that I should have asked earlier is about security. I'm going to have a very expensive pro camera kit, tripod, laptop, and a ton of accessories, etc., etc. Unfortunately, my camera backpack is black and is going to stick out like a sore thumb. I thought about one of the PacSafe mesh locks, but those tend to scream 'steal me.'

    I'm perfectly comfortable keeping it with me 100% of the time. I doubt any guesthouse is going to have a safe large enough for it to fit and I don't think I'm going to be leaving it like that.

    Any suggestions?

    Jon

    #14 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 09:44

  • mooball

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    Just take it with you everywhere. Leave it in your room when having dinner and it may well be gone when you get back. Plenty of stories from Laos of rooms being entered and stuff stolen when guests are at dinner or cruising around.

    There is nothing to worry about when you're out and about if you have the stuff with you. I would also recommend keeping an eye on your stuff on the bus too.

    #15 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 10:29

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2300
    Total reviews: 47

    just make sure that when you have the camera bag with you, it is secure to your body and not sitting in the basket of a push bike or motor scooter. laos is a pretty safe place, but the drive-by bag snatch happens there the same as anywhere else. cheers.

    #16 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 13:05

  • thinkstopth-
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    Joined Travelfish
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    Hey Mooball and Exacto,

    Thanks for the info. I have friends that traveled all through Laos last year and said they thought it extremely safe. Just didn't want any nasty surprises related to my camera gear. [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

    Jon
    www.jonwitsell.com

    #17 Posted: 21/1/2013 - 21:10

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