Sunday, May 02, 2010

Thai Lao Friendship Bridge

Some of the things I find interesting must seem odd to you.

I remember when this bridge opened in 1994 and at the time, I felt some pride that it was an Australian initiative and that we paid for it. I don't actually know if it has benefited Laos but it must make life easier for the locals, but perhaps the nefarious too. (hey, doesn't using the word nefarious make me sound smart. I just need to slip paradigm in somewhere soon. I better find out what it means first) It is now called the First Thai Lao Friendship Bridge, as I think number four is presently being constructed.

Now, who was it who insisted it was strongly constructed so that a train could travel across it? I can't recall, but someone did, against those who wanted a cheaper version. Guess what? A train track has now been added and trains use it too. Cars have to stop.

The King of Thailand left his country for something like the first time in fifty years for the opening of the bridge, and has never left since.

It may well have been ABC radio's The World Today that alerted me to the construction of the bridge. I recall asking workmates from the respective countries about it but none knew of it. What I did glean at the time was that Thailand drives on left, as we do, and Laos, an former French colony, drives on the right. I suppose it is not the only place it happens in the world, but how do the drivers change sides? I imagined an overpass of some type but a simpler system of traffic lights was used. I am so disappointed to learn this. I imagined some sort of flyover that changes the traffic from right to left.

Sister has driven on the wrong side of the road in the US. Very brave, not sure that I could do it.

But wouldn't it be very weird switching from one side of the road to the other?

As is said in chatrooms, 'stats?'

Over one kilometre long, 12.7 metres wide and high enough for a 13 metre variation in the height of the Mekong River.

Here is a very flattering photo from the designer's website, AECOM.


  1. I know an aid worker who was at the opening. he said fabulous food and flowers were flown from australia for the reception, and that right after the whole shebang, barricades went up at each end.
    Getting there, my friend shared a car with a big govt representative, who was 'all over' the young boy who accompanied him. (just sayin).

    I saw item in Weekend Austn showing Ian Meldrum in Thailand reporting on news of some 'unrest', and it said he had a business there, which I thought was a bar in Bangkok. nice of them to blur the grimy detail for him.

    Did an Aus journo recently go to prison there for dissing the king?

  2. Are those safety rails I can spy along the bridge? Nice to know we can fund them on bridges other than the Westgate.

  3. A good nurse friend of mine says her family live near said bridge. It is true barricades went up as soon as reception was over.. it took quite some time for them to open them up to the public. And then.. they were happy to be able to use it.
    Nice pic of the bridge

  4. I remember sometime last year Tonga or Fiji changed from driving on the right to the left. They said it was going to cause widespread chaos, but as it typical of news, they never followed up on what it was like after the change over.

  5. Very cheap to put on lavish openings in places like Thailand. Re Meldrum Ann, he had an Asian born boyfriend for a long time, possibly still does. I saw something about him reporting for seven about the unrest. He is now a journalist? It was an author who was sent to gaol. Only seven copies of his book sold. It was all pretty silly.

    Jayne, installing safety barriers on the West Gate Bridge is the largest engineering task ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Cazzie, I wonder if it was quite finished when it opened. Maybe only after the opening did they start realising border control might be an issue.

    Hi Yak Sox. I recall that too. I think ABC had a journalist there the day it happened and it was uneventful.

  6. 'stats' - hehehe....

    It has been so long since I entered a chat room I had forgotten about that peculiarity of gay life.

  7. Same here Victor. I hated if someone just said 'stats' without some preliminaries. Mind you, it does save wasting time.