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So, You Want To Make Money In Isaan ?


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Not sure if someone is hoping to clean up on land sales in Udon, but this letter to Stick struck me as 'something different' among the usual phalanx of whiners:

 

Thai Chinese from Bangkok are putting a lot of investment into Udon and buying land. The price of land has pretty much doubled in the last 5 years. The area opposite the Charoensri Shopping Centre has been cleared and a massive new shopping complex will soon be built there. One of the biggest reasons for the investment and the reason that Udon seems to have overtaken Khon Kaen and Korat is that the Chinese are going to build a high speed rail link through Laos and into China. This will impact on Udon with Chinese exports, increased tourism, as well as new factories and manufacturing facilities. Who knows what Udon will look like in 5 - 10 years time?

 

Beats me, and I'm sure the expats hear rumours like this all the time, but it would be a welcome shot in the arm for both Isaan and Laos if such a rail link *is* built. Not sure about the sort of terrain they would have to navigate, but the Chinese dont seem to let things like topography deter them.

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Years ago, I read a master plan for a SE Asian rail network that was based on two main rail lines - one connecting Kunming, China, to Singapore, and the other connecting Assam, India with the Vietnamese port of Danang.

 

I remember looking at a map, and mentally positioning those two lines - and thinking - Wow - someday some land near the intersection of those two rail lines is going to be worth a lot.

 

One big problem that holds Thailand back on improving its rail service is that all rail lines in Thailand are single track - so that trains going in opposite directions cannot use the line at the same time (they must frequently shunt off, to allow an apposing train to pass). I would guess that the two main lines would be created with dual tracks.

 

Cheers!

SS

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It took Australia, a rich country with vast mineral reserves, over a hundred years to connect Darwin and Adelaide via a rail link - the idea was first mooted sometime around Federation in 1901 ...

 

http://www.railaustralia.com.au/theGhan.php

 

Construction of Alice Springs–Darwin line was believed to be the second-largest civil engineering project in Australia, and the largest in the 50 years[16] since the creation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme (built 1949–1974).[17] Line construction began in July 2001, with the first passenger train reaching Darwin on February 4, 2004, after 126 years of planning and waiting[18] and at a cost of A$1.3 billion.

 

$1.3 billion, across mostly flat terrain with almost zero population for a large chunk of the trip. One federal government and two states, and it took 126 years. Hopefully the Chinese can cut through any red tape (pun intended).

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WTF would the Chinese want to go to Udon to buy crap made in China?

 

Who can argue with logic like that ? :clown:

 

I guess a lot of it will come down to cost effectiveness, but I saw enough of southern China in 2004 to recognise that its a huge potential market. Not sure I'd want trainloads of Chinese joining the Indians in the quest to see who can buy poontang for 200 baht. :angryfire:

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Years ago, I read a master plan for a SE Asian rail network that was based on two main rail lines - one connecting Kunming, China, to Singapore, and the other connecting Assam, India with the Vietnamese port of Danang.

 

I remember looking at a map, and mentally positioning those two lines - and thinking - Wow - someday some land near the intersection of those two rail lines is going to be worth a lot.

 

One big problem that holds Thailand back on improving its rail service is that all rail lines in Thailand are single track - so that trains going in opposite directions cannot use the line at the same time (they must frequently shunt off, to allow an apposing train to pass). I would guess that the two main lines would be created with dual tracks.

 

Cheers!

SS

 

The Chinese are still planning the rail link China-Laos. There was already some planning done, but it seems that the project has slowed down.

 

China pushes rail links into southeast Asia: Is Laos aboard?

China's ambitious rail project in Laos could bring prosperity, some say. But others in region doubt that’s high on Beijing’s agenda.

 

0620-ORAIL-LAOS-ECONOMY-INVEST-CHINA_full_380.jpg

Cars line up to pass a border checkpoint in the northern Laotian border town of Boten, center of a special economic zone that has seen heavy investment from China.

(HOANG DINH Nam/AFP/Newscom)

By Simon Montlake, Correspondent

posted June 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm EDT

 

Boten, LaosAt first, the villagers saw only the upside: A new high-speed train was coming to Laos from China, its giant neighbor. It would put their corner of northern Laos on the map and bring investment to this poor, landlocked country.

 

Then the Laotian government officials showed up and explained that much of the village, relocated in 2005 to make way for a Chinese casino, would have to move again. In March, a team of Chinese engineers began surveying the lush valley and hillsides, which lie on the railroad's planned 261-mile route south to the capital, Vientiane, from the nearby border.

 

The plan to requisition a large tract of land was a shock, says village chief Kamthoeun Kaewvongphait. The railroad looked so sleek and narrow in computer simulations shown on television that villagers reckoned it could pass through their community without too much disruption. Now some 1,000 people face another imminent move, and nobody knows when it might be.

 

While some villagers complain privately that they are getting a raw deal, Mr. Kamthoeun puts on a brave face. "We need to develop our country and make it modern. I think that it's good, and we can move our homes," he says.

 

If it goes ahead, the high-speed train would spell change for Laos, a rural backwater that has been bypassed by Asia's industrial boom. Its price tag of $7 billion is more than the country's annual economic output. China is expected to finance and build the railroad, which is designed to link to an upgraded rail network in Thailand and then to Singapore, boosting southwest China.

 

The ambitious project underscores the growing Chinese presence in Communist-ruled Laos, which has long depended on Western aid. Chinese firms are investing in tourism, agriculture, and mining, and Laotians are busy studying Chinese and learning how to do business with China.

 

In February, however, the railroad appeared to run into delays after China's powerful railways minister was fired for corruption, raising questions over political support for its completion by 2015. A planned groundbreaking ceremony in April was postponed, and a Laotian government official said that China's "ministerial reshuffle" was to blame but insisted that it would go ahead. Villagers in Boten said they'd not been told of any delays.

 

The announcement in December of a high-speed railroad through Laos came as a surprise to governments in the region that had been working on other ways to improve their transport links. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to which Laos belongs, has tried to boost rail connectivity with China and seek support from international donors, with limited success.

 

 

Potential game changer

China's willingness to build a railroad in Laos is a potential game changer, says Ruth Banomyong, an associate professor of logistics at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, and an expert on regional transportation. But it has a downside for governments that had pushed for a broader ASEAN rail network via other countries.

 

"The Chinese have their own agenda. Some of this does match with the ASEAN agenda, but other parts just serve China," Mr. Banomyong says.

 

One beneficiary would be Thailand. Its government has begun negotiating with China on a joint project to add a connecting high-speed line along an existing route from Bangkok to the Thai-Laotian border, where a railway bridge spans the Mekong River.

In theory, this would allow passenger trains from Bangkok to pass at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour over the agricultural belt of northeast Thailand and up through the rugged mountains of northern Laos to the Chinese border. Cargo trains would travel at slower speeds but are likely to be the main user of the lines.

For villagers in Boten, such seamless travel is an almost unimaginable leap from the bumpy bus rides they currently endure. Some are hopeful that a railroad means new customers to buy their farm goods, though they're not sure where the train will stop. "It's good to build a railroad. I want to see the train coming here because it can improve our lives," says Bundi Pinlabong, a villager whose house isn't on the route.

 

Could Laos be relegated to a transit country?

But critics point out that Laos could be relegated to a transit country for fast trains bound for Bangkok and Singapore, which have far more to offer China. Others warn that Laos may award Chinese companies mineral concessions in return for the railroad, adding to the social and environmental disruption from the project.

 

Chinese investors have already caused a stir here with their casino complex, which was built on land where villagers once farmed corn and vegetables. Known as Golden City, the casino attracted thousands of Chinese gamblers and created jobs for local residents, but ran into trouble last year after casino operators refused to let indebted gamblers return home. Most gaming operators have since shut down under pressure from China's government, leaving hundreds of Laotian croupiers out of work.

 

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PS: I have seen a report about the failed casino complex in northern Laos. The Chinese had completely taken over the city making their own rules. The Laotian were just servants to them. Hopefully this taught a lesson to the government of Laos, but if they are as corrupt as the Khmer, they will happily sell their land and their people to the Chinese.

 

It might be strange twist, but in regard to China, Thai nationalism might play a powerful role in keeping the Chinese (but not the Thai-Chinese of course) from taking over parts of LOS. This of course applies even more to Vietnam.

 

 

 

 

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Chiang Rai locals are convinced the train to China will go through here, cross the Mekong at Chiang Khong and head for Kunming through Laos from there.

We even have a railway museum with a real train in it so there must be some truth in it. B)

 

Land is still a good investment, large new houses are going up everywhere outside the city.

The locals say "Bangkok people".

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last i heard the chinese wants 'free land' around the rail line in laos & them not agreeing so whats the chance like of such a rail line ever being completed lol?

 

well go ahead buy up land, but only if you like udon as of today ;)

 

 

---------

 

Over the past ten months the two sides conducted feasibility and social/environmental impact studies on the 421-kilometre rail route, which would run from Boten, Luang Namtha province to Vientiane, the capital.

 

The studies proved insufficient in details, particularly on the social impact of the route which will displace hundreds of families and run through important tourist destinationssuch as the ancient capital of Luang Prabang, a World Heritage Site.

 

'The on-site survey didn't meet our expectations,' Somsavat said. 'But the two sides have decided to pursue their (impact-study) efforts so we can launch this project within the year,' he added.

 

The Laos-China rail route would provide a 120-kilometres-per-hour freight and 200-kilometres-per-hour passenger train link from Kunming, the capital of China's Yunnan province to the China-Lao border and then on to Vientiane and Thailand, where another high-speed track is planned between Nong Khai, just across the border from Vientiane, and Bangkok.

 

Laos' current rail network consists of a 3.5-kilometre link over the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge between Nong Khai and Vientiane. It is popular mainly among foreign tourists.

 

The giant railway expansion plan is not without its detractors.

 

'This is a landmark project for the government, but how much poverty will be reduced by a train link between China and Thailand,' asked one international aid official. 'The real benefits of the project go to China and Thailand; Laos is just a transit point.'

 

Laos is one of the world's poorest countries, with few export industries other than minerals and hydro-electricity, neither of which require high-speed train transport.

 

Another question is how Laos will pay for the project.

 

Under the MOU signed last year, China and Laos will set up a joint venture state enterprise in which China will hold 70 per cent and Laos 30 per cent.

 

China will provide the finance, construct the rail link with 50,000 labourers (presumably Chinese), and provide the trains, equipment and technology.

 

Laos' contribution, other than the land on which the track is built, remains unclear.

 

Somsavat discounted reports that Laos would provide China with land concessions extending 10 kilometres on both sides of the rail link.

 

'The Lao government has decided to use one of our mineral resources to pay back the money we have borrowed from the Chinese,' Somsavat said.

 

That will require a lot of minerals. Laos' gross domestic product is estimated at 6.5 billion dollars, just shy of the 7 billion that the rail link would cost.

 

Total mineral exports, mainly copper and gold, over the past six months amounted to about 800 million dollars, all from foreign-run mines.

 

There have been reports in the state-run local press, usually not known for its criticisms of the government, of people whose properties will be affected by the project openly objecting to it.

 

'I think if you took an opinion poll, some 60 to 70 per cent of the Lao people would be against the project,' said one professor at the National University of Laos, who asked to remain anonymous.

 

But in Laos, the final decision on such landmark projects lies with the communist party chiefs.

 

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