Last time I was in Vientiane, Laos, was about a year ago. Not much has changed since then, few new coffee shops have opened, some others have closed. The city still has the charming slow-life atmosphere and friendliness that you usually come across only in provincial towns – if you are lucky.
Some changes are expected to happen by the end of the year when Laos will host 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009. The SEA Games have a relatively long history, as the first Games were held already in 1959. This year Laos will be the host for the first time, and Vientiane will be main area for the games. The hosting of the Games is an important showcase for Laos, and all forces have been united for the preparations.
Despite of all the efforts, Laos has to reduce the number of sports contested in the Games. The news that Laos has dropped a considerable number of sports and run the risk of not being able to hold the event due to financial constraints, led other countries to come for assistance. It is estimated a total US$85 million worth of aid has been handed by various Asian nations.
Some of this funding goes to construction of a new golf course near Vientiane. Construction should be ready by the end of May. However, according to the article published in Vientiane Times on 13th March, 2009, the Lao Golf Federation is having difficulty clearing land around the golf course because some people have not yet left their homes to make way for construction. The article did not tell where they are supposed to move.
The three nine-hole courses will be extended by additional 60 hectares after the ending of the Games, to make it a total of 210 hectares and 45 holes.