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A diminutive, landlocked, communist country, Laos has a deserved reputation for being a quiet country in a dynamic region. But the rapid modernization in Southeast Asia is beginning to touch Laos as well.
A Chinese-funded trans-Asian rail is set to run right through Laos, connecting China’s southern Yunnan province to Bangkok, Thailand. But some analysts say this is more likely to serve the countries it is connecting — largely China — rather than Laos.
“The price tag of the $7 billion, 260-mile rail project, which Laos will borrow from China, is nearly equal to the tiny $8 billion in annual economic activity in Laos, which lacks even a rudimentary railroad and whose rutted road system is largely a leftover from the French colonial era.”
Singapore-based photographer Ore Huiying took an interest in Southeast Asia’s rail network. That led her to Laos, where, she says there is just a little over two miles of rail track.
“The proposed high-speed train could potentially generate economic benefits and propel the country’s development,” she writes. “At the same time, it could cause groups of people to experience new poverty.”
Her photos show that dichotomy of a culture on the brink of change.