This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the Golden Triangle as part of a class excursion. The Golden Triangle, where Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet at the junction of the Ruak River and Mekong River, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Thailand.
The Mekong River has a significant meaning to me. As a child, my parents would always tell me stories about the horrors and dangers of crossing the Mekong River as teenagers. Living through ethnic persecution, my parents along with many others, instinctively crossed the Mekong River as communist soldiers shot and killed hundreds of Hmong people searching for asylum in Thailand. Many people floated on hand-made bamboo rafts while the river around them filled up with dead bodies. Those who did not know how to swim, jumped in the water regardless. Children who could not fend for themselves held on to tight to whatever and whoever they can. The Mekong River represented hope for the future.
Being on the shore of the Mekong River gave life to the stories that my parents told. I always thought the river was shorter, but it was twice the length of a football field, five times longer than I ever imagined. As I rode a ferry across the fast-moving waters of the Mekong River, emotions filled my mind. I was mad, frustrated, and confused. I thought about the struggles and fears of all the refugees who was left with no choice but to escape their homes after the Vietnam War. I thought about the thousands of people who died on that exact river that I was traveling on. I thought about the trauma that those who survived has to live through everyday. I can never imagine what my parents went through, but I hope that one day they will get a chance to come back and make peace with the Mekong River.