HO CHI MINH CITY -- On a recent Friday in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, friends kissed hello as they entered the Racha Room, a tunnel-shaped bar lit by warm, ochre lamps. Inside, patrons shouted over booming classic rock and sipped from each other's Old-Fashioneds.
It was a scene to strike a chill into the hearts of the COVID-conscious. A standing-room-only venue, windows clamped shut against the night air, and not a mask in sight. It might have been a glimpse into an eerie alternative reality -- a 2021 that could have existed had the coronavirus never broken out.