The tiny south-east Asian country of Laos holds a record nobody wants.
This landlocked former French colony has the unenviable distinction of being the most bombed country, on a population basis, in history.
Almost 2 million tonnes of bombs were dropped on Laos during a United States-financed secret war between 1964 and 1973 – much of it in an unsuccessful attempt to stifle the Vietnamese- supported Pathet Lao liberation movement.
But this small country with a big legacy shows no signs of wanting to hide its past. The resourceful citizens of Laos have instead taken what remains of this dark period in their history and, literally, molded it into a future.
Bomb casings and other war leftovers now adorn homes after being bent, prodded and melted into various household items. Or, as I discovered in the small eastern Laos village of Hinboun, adapted to the extent that they are now used, if indirectly, to feed families.
Boat bomb, or should that be bomb boat? Neither sounds like the kind of transport safety-conscious visitors would normally dip our heavily insured toes into. But that is exactly what the people of Hinboun want us to do. And no, they’re not trying to get back at anyone for inflicting on them a horrible legacy – they just want to make a few dollars, American preferably.
The villagers have cleverly fashioned sleek, shiny boats from the bombs dropped by B-52 pilots during the secret war. These boats not only accommodate the village fisherman, they also allow the villagers to lighten the wallets of curious tourists, keen to earn skiting rights about the time they cruised the river in a bomb.
The boats are just one example of the adaptable spirit of a nation of 6 million that has been annexed, occupied, colonized, invaded or bombed by a string of countries during the past four centuries.
These images captured by Roger Arnold emphasizes on how these "gold in the soil" have become an important part of the Laos culture, as such bomb shells provides a primary source of income; plus they can be modified to become boats, tables and other useful stuff!
More images after the jump.
Tags: Bomb | Shells | Beauty | Laos | Vietnam War