Video Postcard: Oudomxay, Laos ແຂວງອຸດົມໄຊ

Video Postcard: Oudomxay, Laos ແຂວງອຸດົມໄຊ

A view of Oudomxay, Laos, from Puhipii Mountain. Oudomxay (pronounced OO-dom-SIGH) thrives as a tourist destination, though not for Occidental tourists. Located a couple hours drive south of the Chinese border, it tends to draw visitors from the North rather than from the West. While neighboring districts like Luang Nam Tha and Luang Prabang draw large numbers of Western tourists with the allure of trekking, hill-tribe culture, ancient Buddhist splendor, and forested tropical mountains, Oudomxay caters almost exclusively to Chinese on short vacations. The two largest buildings in the town are both combination casino/restaurant/brothels. There are a few other examples of each type of establishment scattered around town, and its clear that that is where the money is flowing in. The signs are in Chinese and the locals all know a few words of Mandarin or the Yunnan dialect. Chinas proximity to Oudomxay province is also evident in the wide-scale pillaging of natural resources. Lumber-hungry companies strip the hillsides of old-growth tropical hardwoods, leaving them vulnerable to erosion and mudslides. Much of the old forest is replaced with rubber plantations, under the aegis of a Chinese program designed to benefit former opium growers by giving them another, less detrimental cash-crop. Vast acreages of young rubber trees carpet the once-lush hills. Gem and mineral mines are common near rivers, and there is little oversight as to what chemicals are used in the various


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