Friday, June 30, 2006

Quy Nhon, Vietnam - Vientiane/Pakxe, Laos Direct Bus

Nhan Dan-Travel reports 30 June 06: "The Binh Dinh [Vietnam] Trade and Transportation Joint- Stock Company (VATACO) will open a 600 kilometre-long bus route from Binh Dinh province to Pakse of Laos on July 4.

update: Buses will depart from Quy Nhon city in Binh Dinh province every Monday and Thursday and from Pakse city in Champassak province every Wednesday and Saturday.

They go through Pleiku city (Gia Lai province), Kontum province, Bo Y border gate, and Lao provinces of Attapu, Sekong and Champasak. It takes 12 hours and the fare costs US $16 (160,000 KIP).
Besides, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has also allowed the Quy Nhon-Vientiane 1,300 kilometre-long bus route to start operation. There will be eight trips a month at the one way fare of VND 390, 000 for one person.

The bus routes target 1,500 people, who are working in Laos and 500 Laotian students in Quy Nhon. ..."
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Schedule & Fares for China-Tibet Rail Link

China Daily reports 27 June 06:
"...fares and schedules for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway were unveiled yesterday the service begins on July 1 and it will take 48 hours and a minimum of 389 yuan (US$49) by hard seat to get to Lhasa from Beijing.

A hard sleeper (bottom berth) will cost 813 yuan (US$102), and a soft sleeper (bottom berth) 1,262 yuan (US$158). The most expensive ticket is priced at about half the fare of an air ticket, 2,540 yuan (US$318).

Trains will run between Lhasa and cities in three directions Beijing, Chengdu/Chongqing and Xining/Lanzhou...

The train from Beijing to Lhasa, T27, will leave Beijing's Western Railway Station at 9:30 pm, and arrive in Lhasa at 8:58 pm on the third day, taking 47 hours and 28 minutes.

The train from Lhasa to Beijing, T28, will leave at 8 am and arrive at 8 am of the third day, taking exactly 48 hours.

The ministry did not say whether trains would run daily.

The trains will stop at six stations: Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, Xi'an in Shaanxi Province, Lanzhou in Gansu Province, Xining and Golmud in Qinghai Province and Nagqu in Tibet Autonomous Region.

Passengers can get on the train at any of the six cities along the 4,064-kilometre rail line of which 1,110 kilometres is new track, mostly at least 4,000 metres above sea level.

Trains will also link Lhasa to Chongqing and Chengdu in Southwest China; and Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province; and Xining in Qinghai Province in Northwest China."
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Vietnam, Cambodia sign agreement on Highway 78

Viet Nam News reports 29 June 06: "Viet Nam and Cambodia agreed to working conditions for the construction of a section of Highway 78 from Ban Lung to O Yadav in the Ratanakiri Province of Cambodia...

The two sides worked on the upgrade of Highway 78 and on the construction of Long Binh-Chrey Thom bridge, which will link Viet Nam’s southern An Giang province with Cambodia’s Kandal province.

Discussions also focused on the implementation of the Agreement on Land Transport signed by the two governments in October 2005, including opening four border gates to traffic between the two countries."
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Lao Airlines Adds Flights to Cambodia

People's Daily Online reports 29 June 06:
Lao Airlines...will offer two additional flights per week starting in October from Phnom Penh via Pakse, Laos, to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. [The] company plans to fly daily from Siem Reap via Pakse to Vientiane.

Laos Airline previously flew three times a week from Vientiane to Siem Reap during the dry season. The airline started flights to Cambodia in 2001.
Cambodia's tourism industry developed rapidly in recent years. In 1999, Cambodia welcomed 367,734 tourists, but the number rose to 1,421,000 in 2005. Tourist arrivals have increased by 286.41 percent.
Source: Xinhua
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Attopeu, Laos -- Bo Y, Vietnam Road Completed

Nhan Dan ---Business reports 6 June 06: "Road 18B from Laos' southern Attopeu city to the Vietnam-Laos border, built at a cost of US $48 million in soft loans provided by the Vietnamese Government to the Lao Government, was inaugurated on June 5.

At the inaugural ceremony held in Attopeu city of the Lao southern province of the same name, the 111km-long road linking Attopeu city and Bo Y border gate in the Vietnamese province of Kon Tum was handed over to Laos and opened to traffic by the project contractor, the Vietnamese Construction Joint Venture Corporation 18 (CEI-18).

The construction of the project, including three major bridges and 16 small and medium bridges, began in December 2001 and was completed on April 15, 2006."
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Cambodia Rebuilding Sihanoukville and Kratie Airports

The Standard - China's Business Newspaper reports 13 June 06:
"Cambodia has approved plans for an international airport in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, hoping that rebuilding the facility will boost tourism.

Soy Sokhan, an undersecretary of state for civil aviation, said a rebuilt airport would be able to take direct flights from neighboring countries, allowing visitors to head for the country's beaches and have a quick link to the Angkor temple town of Siem Reap.

Like many of Cambodia's smaller airports that were once part of an extensive domestic network, the facility in Sihanoukville, 230 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh, is closed.

The government hopes to reopen it to domestic flights by the end of the year and later introduce international routes, said Soy Sokhan.

There are also plans to reopen the airport in the northeastern town of Kratie, near a stretch of the Mekong river home to endangered Irrawaddy dolphins that Cambodia hopes to preserve as a tourist attraction."

Southeast Asia Road and Rail Construction

Xinhua - English reports 10 June 2006: "China, the Laos and Thailand have agreed to build a 1,818 km international highway which will start from Kunming, capital of Yunnan, and end at Bangkok of Thailand.

And construction has completed on 60 percent of this international highway's Chinese section that starts from Kunming and stops at Mohan, an important trade port on the Sino-Laotian border. The remainder of the section will be finished by late 2007.

The Chinese parts of two more highways connecting Kunming to Hanoi of Vietnam and to Yangon of Myanmar will be finished by late 2007 and will be upgraded to freeways in 2010.

[Pan Pearl River Delta Region] PPRDR highway network can be expanded into ASEAN via the three main international highways: the Sino-Myanmar highway (Yangon-Mandalay-Kunming), the Thailand-the Laos-China highway, and the Sino-Vietnamese highway (Hai Phone-Hanoi-Kunming), according to Xu Rongkai, governor of Yunnan.

In the meantime, China is also stepping up construction of a railway scheme that link up China and ASEAN via Yunnan.

A feasibility study has completed for construction of the China section of the proposed Pan-Asian Railway that will run from Singapore, through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar before reaching China's Yunnan Province.

The new 340-km railway section will connect Dali, a well-known scenic site in Yunnan Province, southwest China, to Ruili, another Yunnan town on the Sino-Myanmar border.

The feasibility study calls for a construction budget for Dali-Ruili railway section of 10 billion yuan (about 1.23 billion U.S. dollars), said Bai Enpei, secretary of Yunnan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China. He said construction work on the section could begin soon.

The proposed 2,600 km-long Pan-Asian Railway will start in Singapore, pass through Kuala Lumpua in Malaysia, Thailand's capital Bangkok, Yangon in Myanmar, and terminate in Kunming, capital of Yunnan.

Highways linking up Nanning, capital of Guangxi, Yunnan's close neighbor, to Guangxi's land border ports and seaports with Vietnam have also been under swift construction."

Presumably the Lao portions of the links would have to be sponsored from a foreign donor.

Monday, June 26, 2006

String Theory in Physics: Ideas and Frameworks; Predictions and Consequences

Sharon Begley in her Science Journal column in the Wall Street Journal, 23 Jun 06, writes that physics string theory is an "idea or framework" rather than a theory composed of a "concise solvable equations describing the behavior of the physical world." So, presumably a framework might consist of ideas or theories or both. (I suppose these comments may be less on what was said than on how it was said. I'm certainly not able to comment authoritatively on the details of string theory validation.)

It's not clear that a theory necessarily consists of concise equations, though I suppose one would expect the minimum set of necessary and sufficient factors to be used in the mathematical descriptors, the equations, of a compact theory. A complete, though noisy, theory might have extraneous descriptors, not necessarily apparent at the early stages of the theory's validation. What if the results of a theory could be validated though, for some reason, some of the equations weren't compact or concise? Would the theory be invalid or just inelegant?

Also, "solvable equations" as a criterion leads one to ask at what point the equations must be solvable to be valid parts of the theory. Should the criterion be solved rather than solvable? If the equations can be shown to be solvable, but aren't solved, how can one be sure of the results, especially as applied to the physical world, where validating experiments may be difficult or impossible given a current state of technology (or ever). Of course, I'm to lazy to look into the details of theory theory to validate these ideas.

Ms. Begley also says, in describing a success of string theory that seemingly describes correctly the number of quarks and leptons found in nature, "is less a prediction of string theory than a consequence."

It's really unclear how the result of a theoretical prediction is different than a theoretical consequence. Or, coupling this with the thought earlier, how a result of a prediction consistent with a framework is different than a consequence of the set of ideas in a framework. Regardless of whether the predictor of the result is a theory or a framework, there seems to be no difference between a result or a consequence, unless there's some jargon usage I'm missing. (Of course, there's a trivial difference in meaning between a consequence and a prediction, but I can't think that's what's meant.)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mobile Subscribers in Laos

In a news release 20 Jun 06 announcing a contract to improve GSM mobile phone coverage in central Laos, Ericsson said there are about 561,000 mobile subscribers in Laos today, equivalent to 9% of the population.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

All mobile phones in Thailand to have 10-digit numbers in September, 2006

MCOT : TNA English News :: "BANGKOK, June 16 (TNA) - Holders of all mobile phones in Thailand will have their numbers adjusted to become 10-digit ones in September, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) announced here on Friday.

An NTC expert, Mr. Direk Charoenphol, told TNA that NTC had ordered all service providers to turn all domestic mobile phones, both previously and newly registered, to be the 10-digit phones from September 1, 2006.

'Under the plan, which will result in sufficient numbers to be offered to increasing mobile phone holders over the next 30 years, the number '8' will be added after '0' of each number,' he noted.

'This means that the existing number, '09-1234567', for example, will become '089-1234567' then', he revealed.

All local moblie phone service providers will launch the 10-digit phone service on a trial basis in July."