Laos: In the Shadow of the Giants

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Laos: In the Shadow of the Giants (47:00)
Item# 10115

Impoverished, sparsely populated, and still recovering from the Vietnam War, Laos exists on the edge of the abyss. This program considers the cultural and economic impact on Laotians and Hmong alike of initiatives designed to improve the country, such as the new highway being built by Swedish engineers. Although the regime’s "reeducation camps" show no signs of being closed and antigovernment rebels continue to make travel dangerous, foreign tourism is being courted for the currency it can bring, while the country’s rich spiritual life—expressed through the practices of Buddhism and animism—serenely continues. (47 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (9)

1. Laos: Overcoming Consequences of Vietnam War (04:57)
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One of the poorest countries on Earth, Laos struggles to feed and employ its 4 million residents. The Trans-Asia Highway project provides work for Laotians and replaces roads and bridges lost during the Vietnam War.

2. Vientiane, Capital of Laos (04:18)

This segment takes viewers on a tour of Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and some of its many temples. Laos struggles to attract tourism, but it does not have the infrastructure to support a tourist industry.

3. Laotian Night Life (05:14)

Laotian entertainment includes cock fighting and dancing at bars and discos where free-style dancing is unacceptable. Male patrons receive relaxing massages in the restrooms.

4. Laotian Re-Education Camps, Forests, and Dangerous Travel (03:56)

Re-education camps for government opponents still exist. Wood is the most important raw material in Laos, and in the 1980s, the forests were taken down and the soil eroded. Overloaded trucks travel through dangerous territory to reach China.

5. Laos and Trans-Asia Highway (05:25)

China has easy access to Southeast Asian markets on the Trans-Asia Highway. This road will change lives in Southeast Asia forever. The sacred mountain of Pu-Si overlooks an open market.

6. Laotian Buddhism (04:18)

Luang Prabang is the spiritual center of Laotian Buddhism. Embodying the classical architecture of northern Laos, the most famous temple is the 16th-century Wat Xieng Tong. Viewers observe traditional dances and the monks' begging rituals.

7. Trans-Asian Highway to China (05:18)

The road north of Luang Probang is fraught with obstacles for tanker trucks that must cross rivers on old, homemade ferries powered by Chinese diesel engines. The road to China is nearly impassable.

8. Laotian Mountain Tribes (05:52)

High in the mountains are the Hmong and other tribes that grow opium. This way of life will change forever when the Trans-Asia Highway passes through the mountains.

9. Laotian Wedding and Reception (05:36)

Near the Chinese border, Laotians prepare for a wedding and reception. Viewers observe customary rituals and dancing to live music after the wedding.

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