The Mekong is the World’s 14th longest river, which I guess means it’s not all that long. But starting high in Tibet and ending at the southern tip of Vietnam, its waters do flow down through, and between, quite a number of disparate areas and countries. So on this trip through Yunnan and northern Southeast Asia, we have crossed / will cross it once each at Jinghong, Jingha, Houay Xai, and somewhere near Baoshan. That’s been the plan, anyway. That is, we sure didn’t plan to cross it more than once at Houay Xai, the border crossing from Laos into Thailand. Certainly not three times, each with our two big bags and one small toddler stacked precariously on a low-riding bamboo boat with a sputtering outboard. But thanks to the fact that we inattentively walked right past the dozing officials who were supposed to give us our Laos exit stamps, and the fact that the Thailand immigration official on the other side of the river cared, for some reason, whether his Lao counterparts on the other side were doing their job, we were directed to go back, wake up the exit-stampers, and thus make two extra crossings of that stinkin’ river. So while some parts of our trip have felt like we’re just rushing through, this little stretch of smelly water was one place we really savored. Any longer and we might have been able to figure what cut of our extra ferry tolls those border officials collected.