Backpackers And The Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos: Then And Now.
Above Photo: An unexploded US bomb, dropped during the Vietnam War, sits alongside the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Sekong, Southern Laos.
During the Vietnam War the Ho Chi Minh Trail ran down the eastern side of Laos, entering from North Vietnam and exiting in the south, where it split in two near Attapeu, one route disappearing into Cambodia and another exiting into Vietnam.
In reality the Trail was comprised of hundreds of foot trails, bicycle paths, footpaths, dirt roads, waterways and rivers running through the remote jungles of Laos, and Cambodia.
Vehicles on the wartime Ho Chi Minh Trail carried men, war weapons and food down to the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong in South Vietnam so they could keep fighting (see map below for rough routes of both the old and New Trails).
Now a new supply Trail and new forms of transport run down the southern part of Laos, but instead of carrying war weapons and supplies, these vehicles carry backpackers along it, who usually take buses from Vientiane, travel straight through to Pakse, then down to the Four Thousand Islands in the Mekong river, before exiting into Cambodia.
Realising this some time ago, and noticing how Pakse remained the jumping-off point for some backpackers going south, and for others going south-east, into remoter Laos and the Vietnamese border, adventure-backpacking to the Ho Chin Minh Trail and the tri-border jungles, was one of the reasons I based BACK in southern Laos and Pakse.
BACK mixes these two Laotian supply routes in the present day – adventure-seeking backpackers and the Vietnam War, fought along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the war-ravaged, UXO littered tri-border jungle of Laos.
Unfortunately, the ill-equipped American travellers in BACK get a lot more ‘adventure’ than they planned for in the jungle, after they pick up some very dodgy British backpackers along the way.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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