Sunday, July 15, 2012

The shame of Laos: Thalat Sao Mall 2

It is hard to avoid all the advertisements these days about the latest projects. The most prominent on the riverside is called the glory of Laos. 

Let's go back a few years. With big news announced was the Thalat Sao Mall 2. It was supposed to host shops, a Big C supermarket, a cinema, a hotel and parking space. Schedule for being opened was the 450 year celebrations. The schedule totally failed. The whole project is a symbol for mismanagement, incompetence, probably corruption and the planning chaos that seems to be the standard for projects in Laos.

There is no hotel, not cinema, no parking space. When you arrive better cover your ears because some idiot high decorated architect decided it might be a good idea to design the exhauster of the air condition in a way it would replicate perfectly the sound of a starting Airbus 380 turbine - and to direct this sound to the shopping mall entrance. Once you enter, you may see signs leading to a Big C supermarket, but there is just a very empty floor. Someone just doesn't like to have Big C in town (what doesn't really bother Big C, since hundreds if not thousands of Laotians carry the money to Udonthani every weekend. Saves Big C to ship the goods to Laos).

The selection of shops clearly shows that there is not concept. In the basement floor it smells like in a shoe factory, and the reason are cheap crappy chinese products. Even most of the sellers are Chinese.
First floor is partly occupied by some banks and wanna-be-brands, and third floor is the gold sellers floor (a magnet for shopping malls, for sure..)

As if this isn't enough, if you use the escalators (actually a surprise they are still working) and made it through the piles of trash and garbage between the floors, you may reach the recently moved food court. It looks a bit like i a zombie apocalypse movie: Concret floor, concrete ceiling, clearly a floor that wasn't build but nobody had any idea for what. It has the charme of a parking lot (wait, was it meant to be one?).

Some dirty food stalls around some equally dirty looking tables, a few fans accelerating the flies, and a very strong smell of something cooked with a lot of fish sauce: Welcome to the shame of Laos.

(For the ones having problems to identify irony: I like local food and eat from food stalls on the street. I actually built one. But in a shopping mall I expect something different, partly because I have to pay more there).


  1. Laos as a country is developing but if the Laos is perfect country it will be want to help for what.

  2. This is the excuse I always hear.Lao people go to Thailand every week, and know how a proper shopping mall looks like That's why they go there actually. Also, cleaning isn't something you need to learn 10 years long. And last but not least: if you don't have knowledge, just ask someone. No problem, it's actually smart. But running everything against a wall just out of a dangerous mix of ignorance and arrogance is just stupid.