ASEAN Fever

It seems like we've been waiting all year for the big ASEAN meetings - the East Asia Summit to be exact - that start tomorrow. Vientiane is spruced up and ready for the hordes of VIPs, officials, security and media descending upon our riverside city. That means every head of state from around Asia, as well as Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, the US, ie (drum roll) Obama.

It is the first time ever that a sitting US President has visited Laos and it will be Obama's last visit to Asia as President. To say that there's a bit of Obama mania around town is putting it mildly.

But it's exciting that so many world leaders will be scooting around town (in their siren-proceeded, heavily-fortified motorcades, see below) and it's especially exciting for Vientiane, and Laos, to be in the media spotlight right now. Naturally, everyone wants to put their best foot forward. 

Flags fly along Thadeua, the main road into town, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever
Welcome to Vientiane, Laos, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

The Patuxai Victory Monument, one of Vientiane's landmarks, sits on a roundabout in a great vantage spot,

The Patuxai Victory Monument, one of Vientiane's landmarks, sits on a roundabout in a great vantage spot, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

Below is the Prime Minister's office which borders the Patuxai roundabout.

The Prime Minister's office borders the Patuxai roundabout, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

Below is the National Convention Centre, where most of the ASEAN meetings are taking place.

The National Convention Centre, where most of the ASEAN meetings are taking place, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

If you read this blog regularly, or follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you'll have seen a lot of Vientiane already, and you'll know that it's normally a very tidy town. It's even neater now with streets freshly painted, hedges trimmed on median strips, flowers blooming and flags fluttering everywhere. 

Women trim the hedges of the median strip down Lane Xang, one of the most important roads in Vientiane, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

There are new and freshly painted police and security huts on intersections along Thadeua Road and around town

There are new and freshly painted police and security huts on intersections along Thadeua and around town, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

Gardeners plant new flowers around the steps of Patuxai monument.

Gardeners plant new flowers around the steps of Patuxai, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

The Lao and Communist flags fly on the river road, above packed up market stalls.

The Lao and Communist flags fly on the river road, above packed up market stalls, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

Hosting an international political event like ASEAN means that not only does everything need to look perfect, it needs to flow smoothly too. In order to reduce traffic congestion, all schools and some offices are shut this week, there's road closures around town and police have cleared street stalls, vendors and cars from along the main routes.

On Friday morning, the Lao Government practised its motorcade runs out to the Convention Centre and I was lucky enough to witness some of it from Patuxai. They broke them up into nicely timed groups, tearing down the road with sirens blaring, a dozen or so police motorbikes, cars, vans, a head of state car, and security bringing up the rear.

You can see the Presidential Palace in the distance.

Police stop traffic for a motorcade driving up Lane Xang towards Patuxai Monument. The Presidential Palace is in the distance, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever
Motorcade practice run, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever
Motorcade practice run, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever
Motorcade security detail, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

A pair of monks wait to cross the road in between motorcades practice runs.

A pair of monks wait to cross the road in between motorcades, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

All around town, there are police and security every 200m along all the main roads. Army officers are stationed along the river looking over the water and there are patrol boats below too. There is even word that "commando car" tanks will accompany each motorcade as well.

A "commando car" camouflaged among the flower beds at Patuxai, ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever
"Comando cars", ASEAN Fever | Eat Drink Laos http://eatdrinklaos.com/blog/asean-fever

It's an exciting time to be in Vientiane.

The spotlight is on Laos. Let it shine.

That Luang - the symbol of Lao Buddhism and Vientiane

That Luang - the symbol of Lao Buddhism and Vientiane