Destination: Laos

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Beer Lao Goes Global

Beer Lao Goes Global Photo by honey-bee via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by honey-bee via Flickr (Creative Commons)

After years as a staple on the Southeast Asia backpacker trail, cult favorite Beer Lao is finally making a serious push for leverage in more far-flung markets. From the New York Times: “Like a film festival winner without a distribution deal, the rice-based lager has struggled to turn cult status into anything other than good press ... The company, Lao Brewery, hopes to change that. It would like to see 10 percent sold abroad, and it is counting on Vang Vieng’s beer-loving backpackers to help them make the sale.”

For now, Beer Lao’s well-traveled devotees seem happy to help—the article has the details on the mostly grassroots import effort. But any bets on how long it’ll be before someone mournfully declares that Beer Lao tasted oh, so much better before the passport-less crowds got their hands on it? (Via Frommer’s Behind the Guides)

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Making Tracks to Laos

Who says there are no new frontiers to cross? The Guardian reports that the first rail line into Laos is set to open Friday, connecting Nong Khai,Thailand, to the village of Tha na Lang, over a newly built bridge crossing the Mekong river. From Tha na Lang, it’s a 20-mile hop up to Vientiane, by bus or tuk-tuk, creating a new overland route from Bangkok to the Laotian capital. Laos has been on my list for a long time, so this is extra enticement to go, and the Thailand part of the route holds extra allure because it wends through the relatively untouristed (for now) Isaan region.

Maybe this is one train journey I’ll get to before Paul Theroux.

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