Mong La Is The Mos Eisley Of Asia
If you were to name the world's most depraved city, most people would say Las Vegas. The all-day drinking, all-but-legal prostitution, and the fact that it calls itself "Sin City"? It must be a shoo-in. But that's the equivalent of that guy who sticks a roll of quarters down his pants -- all bluster, no muster. For a real city built on sin and broken dreams, you head to Mong La in Myanmar.
That's not hyperbole, either. While places like Las Vegas and Macau merely adapted to vice, Mong La was born in it. The city was built specifically as a gambling mecca to take advantage of the fact that it's right on the border with China, where gambling is illegal. At night, the city's stores are transformed into low-brow casinos where the stakes are high and millions of dollars change hands instantly, all thanks to the high-rollers in Beijing telephoning bids in and watching via webcam. Mong La is engineered to attract Chinese gamblers -- the official language is Chinese, the casinos and stores deal in Chinese currency, and they even set all the clocks to Beijing time. It's such an effective money trap that the Chinese Army occasionally has to stomp over the border and tear the casinos up to stop the corruption of their citizens. It never works, of course, because they're rebuilt almost immediately.
The house always wins.
After you've been gambling for two days straight, it's probably time for a pick-me-up, and we're not exactly talking about drugs. In Mong La, gamblers visit the poaching black market where they can score for some primo rare exotic animal bits by the cage-load. It's a horrific, sickening slaughterhouse, but sometimes you have to snort a pangolin to be hyper enough to win your daughter's college money back. Or perhaps sir would like to relax with a glass of "tiger wine," an alcoholic spirit available in restaurants all over the city. They're easy to find. They're the ones with the massive glass tank containing gallons of booze and a liquefied tiger.