Published on Oct 9, 2012 by Luke Hunt
FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — Set alongside the natural beauty of the Nam Song river and the karst mountains of northern Laos, they’re an odd sight: the scores ramshackle bamboo huts built into the jungle, filled with backpackers stumbling in time to the beat of stereo-pumped reggae. Those structures look stranger still now that many of them are abandoned and swiftly becoming dilapidated.
In late August, police travelled 160km north from the Laotian capital Vientianne to shut down over 20 bars in Vang Vieng, including many along river and on an island close to the town. The state-run Vientiane Times claimed that the bars it targeted were “being operated in contravention of regulations, including the provision of unsafe drinks to customers, while some also had no business licenses.” Laos’s Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong visited the spot prior to the shut down.