I have just started reading the opening of the latest edition of Brett Dakin‘s Another Quiet American.
There first few pages are about his recent return to Laos, and are a reflection on the changes since he arrived. I feel I would share some of his sentiments, such as the disgust that Swensens and The Pizza Company chains are now apparently in the city.
Apparently the National Museum has been sold to a developer and may be demolished.
I strongly recommend any recently departed expats download the kindle sample to read the opening few pages.
A few things I learned were that the average age is Laos is less than 20, making it the youngest country in Asia. This really shouldn’t be too surprising in a country whose life expectancy is barely about 50 though.
I recently watched a documentary on Laos called The Most Secret Place on Earth.
It was about how Laos was used by the Americans in the war, and in particular how an airstrip set up just outside Vientiane was at one point in time the busiest airport in the world with planes continually landing every 2 minutes on bombing runs.
One of the most sickening things they mentioned was how the bombers would drop their bombs indiscriminately if they could not reach their target as they could not land with them.
Another fascinating part of the story is how some journalists uncovered where some Hmong people were living and hiding since the end of the war. There are images of these people in tears, thinking that these journalists were finally the Americans had come back to rescue them.
Interesting stuff, and it reveals how naive I still am about the history of the country.