An Inconvenient Runway

CIA Airstrip Lima Site 27 in Vang Vieng, Laos

CIA Airstrip Lima Site 27 in Vang Vieng, Laos

If you visit Vang Vieng, Laos there is a large airstrip along Route 13 just as you come into town. Nearly a mile long, probably 200 feet wide, the runway, now crumbling and potholed, is surrounded by residential housing, cheap restaurants and bars. Motorcycles and herds of goats now cross this strip of asphalt unrestricted and without worry and that is okay because this runway, once known as ‘Lima Site 27’, isn’t supposed to exist. Brazenly built by the American CIA to supply the Royal Laotian Army and the Hmong Clandestine Army during the war in Vietnam, this runway was kept secret because its construction was clearly in violation of the 1962 Geneva Accords prohibiting American military involvement in Laos, and in violation of American law. I know many people would like to forget things like this inconvenient strip of blacktop in the jungles of Laos and what it represents, but here it is in full daylight, decaying and ugly.

I am sure a lot of bad things were instigated from this place and history has certainly shown that nothing good came for it. A lot of blood and treasure was lost on both sides of the conflict and I don’t imagine things would be much different if we had never been there at all. I wonder how many other places there are in the world where the same thing will one day be said?

The War in Laos 1960–75 (Men-at-Arms)
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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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