lørdag 25. desember 2021

Laos Unlocked A trip on the maiden journey of the $5.9 billion Laos-China Railway.

As the train sped through the Lao forest at 160 kilometers per hour, I had a flashback to last February, when I traveled from Vientiane to the Chinese border to document the developments at the Boten Beautiful Land Special Economic Zone. Back then, the trip took a total of 18 hours, spanning over two days on the notorious National Road 13, a journey marked by stunning panoramas, potholes, thick dust, and harsh traffic. Stretches of the road can be quite dangerous and big trucks, hauling raw materials in the direction of China, slow down the ride significantly.

For many, these long journeys now belong to the past. The brand new Laos-China Railway connecting the capital Vientiane to Kunming in China’s Yunnan province is finally completed and open for freight and passengers. (Inside Laos, only a passenger service is currently available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) It took $5.9 billion and high-end Chinese engineering to tame the nearly impervious landscape of northern Laos and produce a masterpiece of transport infrastructure.