The train was China-built too. Arrived on time. Comfortable seats, spacious, superfast. Best way to get around. We were told that the border with China was closed, so the train came from the border, instead of from China. We reached our destination in 11 dollars and 90 minutes. It seemed to be full of tourists. Perhaps the locals find it too expensive. The Lao kip can drive you crazy. At around 18,000 to a dollar, it effectively means you have to pay for everything in lakhs. While in Laos we enjoyed the luxury of spending in lakhs on a daily basis.
Laos is said to be communist country, but we saw no sign of any communist thought, except the occasional red flag. The country is apparently aligned with its big brother China, and thus perceives itself as communist. Coming from India’s only communist-ruled State I was struck by the obvious differences. The common man seemed poor, simple, innocent, and voiceless. Political awareness appeared to be minimal. Perhaps, the language barrier prevented me from understanding better. I can’t be sure.