Laos, a slow country speeding up, II

The first post with this title was uneventful.

Here is another reality.

Yaba kids high on speed ride their motorbikes high speed through Luang Phabang these days.

It is the Hmong who do the trading – says a young lawyer. Don’t know if that is just his experience at the office where he is working. Or if it can be backed up by hard statistics. Or if it is Laotian hearsay again. Or if it is part of the trend to blame the Hmong whenever something goes wrong in the country. They are one of Laos’ largest minorities. They fought on the American side in the Vietnam war, which secretly extended into Laos. The Americans withdrew, the communist Pathet Lao took power and relations with the Hmong have never really healed.

Related to the yaba use is the rise in crime. Stories of stolen motorbikes abound. Stories of theft from houses too. People – all people – have put fences around their property to protect the new possessions that economic progress has made available to them. Cctv camera’s now cover parts of Vientiane and Luang Phabang.

Springs to mind a visit to Laos twenty years ago. I was a tour leader for a Dutch company. Our Laotian guide told us in Laos there was no crime. And no prostitution.

That night I was invited for a drink by the Thai tour operator from Bangkok who had been hired by the Dutch to arrange the tour, and who was in Vientiane.

On the table was a bottle of Black Label. On the couches were a couple of girls. ‘For talking and entertainment’, he motioned. I wondered about the entertainment, given the remark of the guide. ‘True. Laos cannot fuck. I try many times’, he confirmed.

This was to change long before crime got on the rise. Only three years later a Laotian friend and his fellow receptionists in a Vientiane hotel made good money allowing foreign business men to take prostitutes to their rooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *