16 August 2005

Sipping a few on the Mekong

This is likely of little or no interest to most, but this piece reminded me of my early military days. Excuse some ol' Sarge nostalgia, here.

In 1967, one of my Southeast Asia stops was at Udorn, Thailand. On my day off (our heavy equipment repair shop went 7 days a week, 12 hrs a day, so we all had different days off) I would occasionally join up with Smitty, a buddy who was an equipment operator and had the same day off as me. We would hop on his Honda 250 (?) motorcycle and cruise up the road to Nong Khai which was right on the Mekong River.

Laos was just across the river and only 25 klicks or so further north was its capital, Vientiane. But US military rules strictly forbade us from entering that country. So we'd go to a local restaurant overlooking the Mekong, sip the local brew (Singhai), maybe have some lunch, and watch the water taxiis crossing back and forth between Nong Khai and the small town on the Laotian side. I always remember thinking how close it was, how much I'd like to go that short distance to another country, but it may well have been on another continent. I was tempted a few times, but no thanks, I liked my few stripes too well to take a chance on losing 'em.

Now, I understand they've built a bridge across the Mekong at Nong Khai and the town has become somewhat of a tourist trap. Lots of Ozzies go there, I guess. I don't think I'd much care to visit it anymore.

"Change, the only constant in life."
- Diogenes (or Pliny the Elder, I forget which)

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