Seventy-two hours after leaving Cleveland, I slipped away from Christmas Eve dinner with my family, walked down a dimly lighted path and crossed a rickety bamboo bridge to an island. I knelt down and dipped my hand into the Mekong River.
Actually, in the dark I misjudged the distance to the water’s surface and wound up putting my arm in up to the elbow. It felt like … warm water. As if I’d stuck my arm into my son’s aquarium back home, 10,000 miles away.
Party music thumped from the hotel across the river, with a spotlight dancing through the dark tropical sky. It wasn’t quite the Mekong but rather the Kok River, one of its tributaries in northern Thailand.
Dramatic beginnings aside, I was grateful to finally be in the Mekong’s basin.