Who knew?


 

In my mis-spent youth I was a bit of a gad-about, in my travels, among other places, I went to Southeast Asia twice, once to Laos and once to Vietnam.  They were very different countries culturally and my experiences were very different in each, although superficially the circumstances were the same; I really like Laos, I spoke Lao reasonably and had some charming romantic adventures wandering around; Vietnam did not feel sympathetic to me and the time weighted much more heavily on me and my companions.

In both cases I was with a small group of like-minded men, we lived in very isolated areas in both countries and for about the same length of time – six months.  In both cases we relied on the local army regiment for our ultimate security and for American helicopter pilots for supplies.  I ate a great deal of rice, drank as much whiskey as I could get my hands on and tried to make up for my deficient knowledge of literature by reading when something disruptive was not happening or when we were not out wandering around looking for people with whom we had serious philosophical differences.  The time passed and I came back to the United States safely both times, somewhat addicted to excitement, exotic places and peoples, but other wise unhurt.

Given my background, I am always amused – if that is the right word – when a gaming story from Southeast Asia comes my way.  Today in Vietnam the government has decided to legalize sports betting – because all Vietnamese love football (soccer) and gambling.  If I had known that all those years ago we could have ended our disagreements and set down to a couple of good sporting contests and some friendly wagers.

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