Saturday, 30 November 2013

Driving in Lao

For the uninitiated:
Step 1. Watch the road ahead
Step 2. Worry only about the road ahead, rear-view mirrors and checking your shoulder are western constructs of little use.
Step 3. Beep at all things ahead which might concern you (dogs, cows, other cars/motos) and use your high beams to make the point that you now have right of way (you got there first, of course you have right of way)
Step 4. Don't worry about what is behind, it is the responsibility of those behind to worry about what is in front of them (continue this, full circle).

Just taking home some dinner.....
As a westerner, do not expect round-abouts to be easily understood. Its seems to be a first in-best dressed kind of situation, just go with the flow. At least it succeeds in slowing traffic.
In an interesting turn of events, they have put up signs on how to actually use the roundabouts in recent months, but no large behavioural change thus far....

Riding in the rain
Expect, during the rainy season, for things to move with the flow of the rain.  Staff not at work - is it pouring rain (or sprinkling for that matter....)? 

Give them some time and a rush of people will arrive with the next break in the weather :)  Soon enough, you too see the method in their madness and in no time you end up waiting out the bucketing rain before you make a mad dash with hundred of others at the next opportunity.

My rain pants have been the one of the best items I brought with me I believe - they aren't sold here in Laos that I have seen and while the poncho covers almost everything it is lovely to arrive with dry legs also.
Traffic jam - on a one way bridge - Pakse style....

Some stylish wet-weather gear on offer

Oh my Lord - cars are everywhere in Laos these days! Two years ago in Vientiane they were a rarity, but now they are a dime a dozen. They are most certainly a status symbol (who really needs a lamborghini anywhere, let alone the rocky roads of Laos), and the Lao people have a unique way of driving (as in with a complete lack of licensing and appreciation for road rules it would appear).  They are busy trying to apply how they drive their cars to how they drive their motos, sometimes with very irritating (to me anyways) and potentially dangerous consequences.

Traffic - Pakse style....
The Lao, like many of their south-east Asian neighbours, seem to be born on a bike (and perhaps some of them were!)  It's always amazing to see who and what a 100cc moto can carry - a range of plastic ware or balloons fanning out like a peacocks feathers, 50kg sacks of rice, cartons of beer, trays of eggs, four or five people (a whole family, mum, dad and the kids), people sleeping on the drivers back.....

One of my favorites that I have managed to snap thus far is this ingenious method of getting a wheelbarrow between sites - ah Laos, you never cease to amaze me!

Wheelbarrow transportation - makes sense really!

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