Metal from the sky!

How America provided material for Lao houses

The original cobblestone trail is still visible in places

The original trail is still visible in places. As a network of paths, some have continued to be in use and some have been reclaimed by the jungle. As the trail generally was made from cobblestone, it is easily identifiable.

For nine years (1964 to 1973), every eight minutes a full B52 load of bombs were dropped during the Vietnam war – 24 hours a day. Per Wikipedia: The American air campaign during the Vietnam War was the largest in military history. The US contribution to this air-war was the largest. Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Curtis LeMay stated that “we’re going to bomb them back into the Stone Age”.

On the other hand, the Vietnamese / Lao people directed bombings to the karst mountains and used the stone rubble to build the trail.

Village surrounded by Bomb Craters

A total of 7.6 million tonnes of bombs were dropped during the Vietnam war. Some 2,5 million tonnes were dropped on Laos and Ho Chi Minh Trail. Compared to 2nd World War, where”only” 2 million tonnes in total was dropped, this is a huge amount.

Most of the metal from the war: bombs, tanks, trucks, barrels, fuel pipeline, etc on the ground has been since collected by scrap metal hunters over the years.

After all the atrocities in the war, this metal has been an important source of income after the war. Bombs, cluster bomb cases, airplane fuel tanks and barrels in particular have also been used as building material for boats, houses and household objects such as buckets, farming tools and machetes. Even saw a school bell made from bomb metal.

House almost entirely made from bombs and war material

Most striking use of bombs are houses for which the building material has fallen from the sky! Houses completely built from bomb metal and even have the original instructions still attached to the side“To set fuses” and “To Safe Fuses” – How to make the bomb safe or how to arm them!

How to set a fuse and how to safe the fuse still on the outer wall of a house
Igloo white – bomb. A “bomb” with sensors and an antenna to communicate with airplanes above directing bomber flights to their targets.
Another house built from scrap metal from the sky.

A prime example of the resilience of the Lao people.