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Somehow I managed to make two trips to Laos (and live next door to it) without realizing it’s actually a communist country. It was only a day into my second trip when I was looking at these flags and noticed the hammer and sickle.
At first I thought I was just an ignorant tourist (which is true, to an extent) but, as with Vietnam, it’s not as apparent as you may think. While there is more obvious communist propaganda displayed throughout Vietnam, the cities in both Vietnam and Laos don’t look like what you would expect coming from Communism with bustling businesses, many expats and entrepreneurs. , I think it’s difficult for people to really notice or understand the country’s political leanings, and I’m not the only one.
A New York Times article asked, “What to make of Laos, the former French colony that became a focal point of great powers during the Vietnam War, only to slide back into obscurity once the Cold War ended?”. How it mixes business and politics, communism and capitalism are still evolving and since the country is primarily Buddhist, Marx and Lenin come after the Buddha.
Coming from the capitalist center of the world (or something like that), it’s an odd feeling realizing you’re in a communist country (since we’ve been brought up to be ‘against’ communism) and hadn’t even noticed.