LAOS: A Prince for Peace

As world capitals go, Vientiane is, well, a little different. The main boulevards are rutted dirt roads; water buffalo languidly nibble garbage in its gutters, and in the White Rose nightclub, bar girls dance naked with the customers. Vientiane's architectural showpiece, a soaring monument to the dead, is mockingly called the "great vertical runway" — not because it leads straight to heaven, but because it is made of concrete diverted from an airport improvement project. Yet for all its oddities, Vientiane is the only Southeast Asian capital where real progress is...

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