Saturday, October 14, 2006

White Flag

Vang Vieng, Lao P.D.R.

Vang Vieng is a town where the Lao government has given up.

The government, which is to say the Communist Party, has surrendered Vang Vieng to the foreigners. Tens of thousands of Western travellers stop for a night or two in the small town, which is part way between Vientiane and Luang Prabang on the country's main road. On a busy day, you see more travellers than Laos on the streets (of which there are about six).

The government has waved the white flag regarding development. If a businessman wanted to build it, he built it, even if it's an ugly concrete block and he ran out of money part way through, as many of the developers did. A store of some type occupies the ground floor of these failed buildings , and all the other floors are bare platforms without walls. The builder's money-minting hotel was not to be.

The government is not enforcing, if it even recognizes, any rules against noise pollution. Perhaps a decade ago, a bar owner discovered that foot traffic increased when he turned on the television and loudly played a pirate DVD of the American sitcom "Friends." Now, you can walk down the street and hear every other watering hole playing a different one about Chandler and Monica and Ross. The better establishments have a sign reading "No Friends."

The government is turning a blind eye to the rampant drug use in town. Several restaurants openly sell "happy" pizza and cakes and shakes, which are prepared with marijuana or psilocybin mushrooms. You can smell pot in the streets, and the stumbling knots of giggling young Europeans aren't fooling anyone.

During four days in Vang Vieng, I did not see one police officer or law enforcement official. The barbarian hordes have sacked the town, and the forces of order have retreated.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a total dick head.

If you think thats a correct assesment of Vangvieng you are living on a diffrent planet.

Shooting is to good for you.

6:23 PM  

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