INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - They drink, they smoke, they gamble, they laugh, they have one merry hell of a good time. These are the Chinese who visit Nevada. Of course, this is a snapshot. I'm not condoning drinking, smoking and gambling, but if you are going to do these things, there's no better place to do them than Nevada.You know why the Chinese tend to smoke their skulls off? The answer is simple. China joined the World Health Organization almost seven years ago, and watched as cigarette sales soared. This dichotomy is the result of one government agency in China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. They are in charge of both sales and control. Talk about the fox watching the henhouse! "Sir, you should know that smoking is really, really bad for your health. Can I offer you a light?"Government regulations and health hazards aside, these folks know how to put it all together for fun in the short run. As an example, a group of Chinese visitors boarded the M.S. Dixie last summer for the "Great Sternwheeler Race" between the Dixie and the Tahoe Queen. Two gentlemen in this group were drinking champagne like it was Tahoe tap, all the while placing higher and higher bets on the race, causing many to look on with keen interest. These two gentlemen started dancing around like a couple of banty roosters, piling up renminbi on the table like they were planning to build a bonfire to warm their hands. They had captured the attention of the entire house when the canon sounded.Kaboom!The Queen started off slow as a turtle swimming in molasses, like she always does, because she is short the two screws the Dixie has under her hull. So the Dixie took a commanding lead, causing one of the Chinese gentlemen to laugh himself into an asthma attack. But when the Queen turned the corner like a crab and grabbed the lead from the Dixie, this same gentleman recovered from his asthma attack in time to go apoplectic, and shout at the top of his smoke damaged lungs, "Dwayboochi! Dwayboochi!" or some such thing. The other gentleman, meanwhile, took to shouting, "Qui! Qui!," or something to that effect. The gauntlet was down and you'd have thought these two gentlemen were betting their farms back home on who would win that sternwheeler race. It was one of the most intense scenes I've witnessed in 20 years of racing those boats on the Lake of the Sky.I tried to stay calm myself, but got caught up in the excitement of it all and started shouting, "Dwayboochi! Dwayboochi!," having no idea what it was I was saying, but not really caring either.When the Queen crossed the line ahead of us, one of the gentlemen gleefully swept the pile of currency off the table into a duffle bag while the other marched over to me. He smiled a toothy smile, which showed off a gold cap in the front, stuck his index finger into my chest, and chastised me for being on the crew of the slower vessel.The Chinese people love life and live life as fully as any culture I've seen out there on the lake in the summertime. I love those people.- Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.com.
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