Songkran in SipSongPanNa – Day 02 Afternoon

From the official website, we are able to find this resource that give an introduction to the Asian Highway.

Asian Highway (AH) 3 will have the following route:
Ulan-Ude – Kyahta – Altanbulag – Darkhan – Ulaanbaatar – Nalayh – Choir – Saynshand – Zamin-Uud –Erenhot – Beijing – Tanggu
Shanghai – Hangzhou – Nanchang – Xiangtan – Guiyang – Kunming – Jinghong (– Daluo – Mongla – Kyaing Tong) – Mohan – Boten – Nateuy – Houayxay – Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai.

AH3 will connect to AH2 to Kuala Lumpur /Singapore via Thailand. AH3 will enable the flow of goods, people, and capitals. But it will bring along the hastening of destruction of environments, the flow dieseases (Aids, SARS, etc), and the disruption of traditional ways of life, the polution of culture, and of course vices.

9 April 2007 Afternoon Luang Namtha > Boten

Ride to border town of Boten is a breeze, with fresh air and good tarred road. The moment we reach Boten, we know we are virtually in China. Beside the Laos scripts along with Chinese scripts on the sign board and the Loatian Song Thiaw drivers, there are not much to tell that this is still Laos. Everthing things seem to be imported from China, even the construction workers. Chinese can virtually walk in and out with border pass. I guess with money, a lot of things are possible.

Road from Luang Namtha to boten

There are so much developments here for the vice industries. What is illegal in China becomes legal across the border. The same modus operandi are found in Golden Triangle (Myanmar), Poipet (Cambodia), Victoria Point (kwathong, Myanmar) for the Thais. And for the Malaysian, some cross over to Sadao in South Thailand for illegal gambling. More Casino is coming up besides the one currently in operations now. Someone pointed out to us that one area is ear-marked for red-light district.

View of Boten

The first thing to do is to get a place to stay overnight and the option we have is only one hotel that house the casino as well. The cost is 2000 bahts. The staff insist on twice the room rate as deposit payable in RMB, not USD or Credit cards. This shows how much the Chinese trust the Chinese. To save cost, we got one delux room for 5 big men. The staffs seem do not mind as long as you can live with it. I guess many people don’t need a bed as most will be on the table gambling away.

The Hotel and Casino

We have the same food for lunch and breakfast on the next day! South East Asian Chinese are more used to Southern Chinese food which are less oily and salty. We had Chinese noodle with herbal soup at 5 RMB that is the closest food that we are used to eat back home. The shop is owned by Southern Chinese from FuJian (Hokkien).

The shop operates from the morning to wee hours. The couple who own and operate the shope told us that they slept at 2:00AM and woke up again at 6:00AM. The Chinse will become an economic giant at the rate these people are going.

Eating shops selling noodle with herbal soup

For dinner, it is steam boat porridge and some fried vegetables. Dinners are noisy, smoke and toast and spit a lot without regards for others dinners who are doing the same anyway. Most customers are construction and Casino workers from 4 corners of China. This is China at it worst. So much money are wasted on drinks and in smokes. Chinese also have the bad habit of wasting food, a sign of financial capabilities?

There are 8-10 casinos (hall) within one physical building rented out to different companies who are responsible for their own Profit and Loss. We managed to change our USD for 7.5RMB to a USD which is a bit low compared with 7.6 we could get in the street in SopSongPanNa (XiShuangBanNa). Most casinos only play one type of game which is Baccarat. One player ante 120,000 RMB in one game (a 10-year salary for the Casino worker!)

Well, we chipped in 200 RMB each and get one of us to play roulette and lost all in the end. There is only one American Roulette table in the main hall.

Couldn’t cope with the smoke (and the losses), we call it a day.

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