On a backstreet in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, an old VW Beetle is parked in the rain. The scene is silent but for the noise of the torrential downpour clattering on nearby metal rooftops. I watch the rain coming down so hard it’s reduced visibility to not much beyond the end of the road. Then, just as I think it couldn’t rain any harder the noise increases as the rain pelts the surroundings with increased vigor. The street is lifeless and empty. Nobody goes outside when it rains like this.