Although virtually everyone has a mobile phone or tablet these days with internet (and Facebook access), Internet shops are still popular in Vientiane, not only for tourists but many young Lao women and men 'video-chatting' with friends at home and overseas.
Some are looking for more than friendship with visiting foreigners. With the help of relatively cheap cosmetic surgery available in nearby Thailand, young men can be transformed into the women they already feel they are 'inside' and wanted to be from an early age.
Babies and young children are often at home, being taken care of by parents or grandparents. Like their parents (and school teachers for that matter) are mostly badly educated, with few real skills. The families turn a blind eye, sex is never discussed openly of course, and everyone 'saves face'.These are the places where you can see young Lao people enjoying themselves to the full.By contrast, family celebrations (except for formal wedding receptions for the wealthy) are almost always held at home with the extended family, friends and neighbours and their friends, accompanied by extremely loud blasting pop and traditional music, recorded and live.Karaoke is everywhere.college and university students as well as the many unemployed being supported by the family (another strong Lao tradition).Most will have money enough to buy a couple of drinks. Local families often rely on regular support from relatives living overseas, mainly in the USA; this seems to give many young Vientiane people little incentive to work or even consider looking for jobs.The 60 km north of Vientiane, has an international standard golf course, 185-room hotel and casino with 150 slots and 60 table games.English is spoken, but most of the customers are Chinese Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.The easiest way to meet a pretty (poo sao ngam) Lao girl, handsome (poo sai law) Lao man or 'katoey' is by experiencing the Vientiane night scene.Lao people still tend to label without malice anyone from gay male or tom (lesbian) to transvestite or transgender 'shemale' as kathoey.With the right connections, a transformed katoey can have his passport gender changed to her, avoiding potential problems when applying for a visa or entering a different country.It is believed that a future kathoey is predetermined by the 'powers that be' at birth; a young boy who is effeminate will be discussed by the family as a possible kathoey.