Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The times, they are a changin'

Thadeua road is getting all gussied up. It's the main road into town from the bridge to Thailand. The Japanese government is funding a big road project to improve and expand the road from the bridge to the airport. It is making for some serious traffic, given that it is the main road through Vientiane. The other problem is that the new traffic lights that are being put up around town actually impedes traffic rather than improves the flow.

Anyway, fancy new lines and lanes are going in now. Exciting times...

The line making machine. I'm not sure of the technology, but it includes two...yes, two, open flames.

Another recent change is the dramatic increase in motorbike riders that are wearing helmets. There was a law passed over a year ago that requires motorbike riders to wear them. Then all stores that sold helmets jacked up helmet prices, so the government backed off on enforcing the law and instead clamped down on helmet price gouging. They have now gotten back to the point where they are fining people who aren't following the helmet law. That said, the law doesn't specify what type of helmet one must wear. As such, you see all sorts. Such as baseball helmets, and this, and the guy probably doesn't work construction, but even if he does, the hard hat won't likely protect him in a collision. But at least he's complying with the law.

Tonight was dinner with our friends Mike and Arlyne. Mike's huge hands provided a perfect sling for Jack. Mike and Arlyne are the co-directors of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Laos. They do cool stuff like track and count tiger populations in Huaphan Province and elephant populations in Khammouane. Plus, they and their colleagues have discovered new species, that, while on dinner tables throughout Laos for centuries, had not been catalogued by scientists before. They also have a research center in Bolikhamsay Province that I am going to try to visit for a night during my upcoming trip (finally!) to the Kong Lor cave in Khammouane.

Jack and his bunny. I was going to make some sort of joke about a Jackrabbit but I thought that would be stupid.


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