NONG KHAI, THAILAND - The men arrived in dark jackets, and the women in fine woven silk skirts. They filed into the gleaming railway station under a red sign that said "Vientiane" in Lao and Chinese.
Then they set off. Laotian lawmakers took a test ride on their country's first railway network to the karst-ringed tourist town of Vang Vieng. What would have been a four-hour road trip from the capital took under one hour on Nov 17 on the Lane Xang, a bullet train named after an ancient Laotian kingdom.