Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fiora: Small restaurant with good and cheap Japanese food in Vientiane

Sorry for the SEO title, but this place is worth it. You may have passed by a garage near VIS, watching and white haired older guy sitting outside a garage, and you may have wondered if this is his private party place or something public. Well it is the latter. "Fiora" is the last name of owner Dennis, who is running that place with his Lao wife. She was training by a Japanese chef, and that's why they made the decision to not open yet another restaurant serving spaghetti bolognese, burger, laab and omelette, but offer something different. It is not yet the Fuji standard, but it is quite reasonable, in particular for the price. I ordered a chicken katsu, it came with an excellent miso soup, kimchi and a bowl of rice, and I just payed 30.000 KIP. CHICKEN KATSU Dennis is in Laos since 16 years, so he knows where he is and how the competition is. He is open everyday, and you get some Japanese dishes (Tofu steak is also recommended), some tempura and french fries as well. Oishi tea and Beer Lao are available. If you live around VIS, give it a try. It could become a nice place for expats to hang around. To go there, just pass by VIS and see it ahead on the left side of the street after 70 meters.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Filmcamp Cambodia March 24th

So this is big news: Cambodia will have its own Filmcamp this year. When I organized the one in Laos, I was more than happy that my friends Sithen and Rithea from Phnom Penh showed up and learned about the concept. It paid of, because once they returned they immediately started organizing their own Filmcamp. and here we go: will be on March 24th at the Canadia Tower in Phnom Penh, starting from 8am until.. it's finished :-) You can register now.. This is the program so far: Morning 8:00 am: Introduction about filmcamp Announcement schedule – class: 8:30 am 9:15am : 1st Class (30mn- 1 hours) (5 rooms) 10:am-10:30mn: Snack 11:00am : 2nd class (30-1 hours) (5 rooms) 11:00am : Screening (Chaktomouk Short Film Contest) 12:00am : Lunch break: (need to be confirm) Guitar Damour, Pizza, zaman) Afternoon 13:00pm : Hall – (Ice Breaker) (Angkoor) 13:45pm : Announce afternoon session 3rd Class : 14:00pm (30mn-1 hours) (5 rooms) 14:30pm : 4th Class 15:00pm – 16:00pm : Forum/Debate 16:00pm : CSP (Music video) + Sai/Dance/talk/snack 16:45pm : Closing Ceremony, Thank, Photo. 17:00pm : End.

Friday, January 13, 2012

UPDATE Nam Phou Square construction

So finally the government stepped in and put the construction at Nam Phou Squareon hold. In a meeting a few days ago authorities explained different drafts for a modified construction around Vientiane's landmark. The version that got consens between people in charge are two one floor buildings facing the street while in the back only two kiosk style stalls are allowed. The fountain will remain at the same place. It may be too late for the restaurants who are basically blocked by the green construction fence. The downside is that the parking slots will be removed. That will increase the bad situation, and I ask myself when they will realize that more buildings and attractions will - drumroll - attract people. And that means more CARS. I heard that now a french (!) company will conduct kind of a feasibility study about underground parking. From what I remember from Vietnam, it is a difficult task to get this done in downtown where the traffic is already on the edge.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trash and burn

A picture says more than thousand words. I will try to tell in at least less words. The picture was taken this morning on a busy street. Everyday Lao people, rich and poor, old and young, but also foreigners, diplomats, NGO workers, business people, are passing buy. So they know it, but may not see it. It shows a lot of Lao's problems. First of all young women with kids, often without a husband (he may have gone to Thailand or just left her, sometimes take even the kid). For women it is still hard to find a good job, if they have a kid but not married, it still is a stigma. Then, there is garbage. Vientiane is dirty, very dirty. Even if there is garbage collection, people just put their baskets and bags full of trash in front of their house, so neighbors dogs can play with it (they love to eat diapers they took out and distribute all over the street). So the trash is just out there for days. Rats like it, and other animals. Nobody cares. It seems that as long as the garbage isn't in from of the gate, it isn't bothering anyone. At last, there is the open fire. Lao people love open fire. This one had dark black smoke, indicating that ingredients are not just paper and gardening waste but plastic. So the woman with her baby just inhales this smoke without having any idea about the threats. Everyday government officials, NGO workers, diplomats see this. They don't care. They may discuss campaigns, but even if some were realized, they failed (maybe they wrote brochures in English?). The picture taken in the middle of the capital also shows, that Laos is far from becoming a modern country. It is still developing from a very low level. Education is the biggest issue. Money cannot buy knowledge and, more important, understanding of knowledge. Only if you understand what you learned you can turn this in action. All my Lao friend know about this as well. But one mentioned: "My mother insists on open fire as this is the tradition." Old habbits die hard, is a saying. In Laos, it is also a common excuse.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Korea is funding street lights?

So now it's the Korean's turn to enlighten the city. New streetlights will build by a Korean company, as a report in the Vientiane Times aka Lao Prawda stated. Ok, will might be not right. Shall, because for now they do a feasability study. No, not for lighting, but for funding. The task is basically to see how the Korean government can fund it.
The interesting part is, that the problem in Vientaine when it gets dark is not only the lack of street lights but also the lack of working street lights. Go to the Friendship Bridge to see what happend to the recent Thai street light funding.
In Laos, there is zero understanding what maintaining even means. Also, NGOs and foreign government organisations still don't forsee this problem. Installing street lights is easy, but having back up bulps (or LEDs) and having (and paying) a maintanance guys is another story. Too many projects in developing countries have suffered from this flaw, and too many still do and will.
So even if Korea will fund the light, do not expect too much of a bright future.