I knew I should have bought that plot of land in Chiang Khong back in 1994 when funding for the bridge was first announced. Then the Asian economic crisis hit in '97 and the baht plummeted and the bridge project was shelved. Now nearly 20 years later it's just about finished and will open "later" this year. How will it affect the local economy and tourism? Since the bridge is actually about 10 km away from the two towns will they benefit or suffer as a result? Will those "slow boats" still seem like such a novelty when the first thing they do is pass under a brand spanking new bridge? And about those crazy Chinese truck drivers (only thing that makes driving in Laos dangerous). The region will be getting a wakeup.