4000 Islands


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Asia » Laos » South » Don Det
February 20th 2010
Published: February 27th 2010
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Escaping Vang Vieng proved no easy task. Within minutes I noticed that the aircon was non functional, we didn't even have any fans and the windows would not open. I believe it was around 35C or so. Sweat began to pour like a waterfall, everyone peeled away clothing, and we literally were all baking within the confines of that bus. A buddy of mine lamented, while gazing at his nearly empty water bottle, how he most likely would not be surviving the trip. Luckily the driver pulled over a few moments later and then toiled away at something before the fans kicked in and at least created some airflow. The fun didn't end there however as the road to the capital city, Ventiane, consisted of zig-zags and ups and downs. I was just passing through Ventiane as I had a sleeper bus to catch to Pakse, a town in southern Laos. I got paired up with an old Korean man who snored, great luck. We arrived in Pakse at about seven in the AM.

From there I was to head to the very south of Laos, a place called 4000 islands. I met a few people on the mini bus there, we arrived and crossed over with a small boat to Don Det. A very peaceful place this was, even more so than the typical laid backness of Laos. When ordering food at a restaurant the typical wait was generally an hour or two, for even things like rice dishes, but I would grow used to this. Electricity had only reached the island about two years ago and tended to be spotty, I made sure to use as little as possible, instead opting for candles in the night.

Upon arriving we noticed the quiet scenic beauty of the area, obviously it was dry season as many small islands poked out of the Mekong. I walked up the road after arriving with Andy, who was from New Zealand, and Marissa from Germany. Andy and myself found some accommodation with Mr. Sadi. I got a single room with double bed for around 2.50$ a night, not too bad. Unfortunately there was no fan so I was gonna roast but I could deal with that. There was a nice hammock on the balcony to use when it did get unbearably hot. There was a monkey next to our bungalows that one of the locals kept as a pet. I dreaded the hair on its back and it looked much better.

Initially we wanted to do some kayaking but were repeatedly told that, being dry season, the river was too low for many areas. We were told that Mr. Ang's shop still offered it so we went there and literally sat down behind his desk for about an hour while waiting for him to show. He never did show that day but we did give Andy the nickname of Mr. Ang cuz he had seemingly taken over that little shop for a while and provided people with random info.

We ended up canoeing to some nearby islands with Andy the following day. The canoe was shit, we kept paddling around in circles for a while until we worked out a system where Andy would sit in the rear and be the rudder man, whereas I would sit up front and paddle like mad. Luckily we got some good speed with this method. Also decent exercise, for me at least. Ran into a few people I had met in Vang Vieng ( Maitraye, Isabella, Claire, Holly) while canoeing and seeing the boat coming in as well. We also biked to the next island on another day, found a secluded beach, array of waterfalls, and biked the most treacherous and bumpy paths yet with our half decent mountain bikes we rented for about two bucks. Andy did a poor job of applying sunscreen to his back and had a hilarious tan by the end of the day. Did a hell of a lot of swimming almost everyday there too.

The night life of the island consisted of everyone massing to the smallish arrival beach and drinking or smoking weed, which was plentiful there. Inevitably a drunk fire would be started in the evening, this was a fire that would have plastic, bricks, and other crap thrown in, looked dodgy at best. People were quite nice here and it was nice meeting old and new friends as well as some island locals that truly displayed the stress free way that life should be lived. I met a few kids while biking around and gave one a pen I had in my bag. He was ecstatic. Such simple joys are quite nice to see coming from a society that values materialism and status far more than need be. In the evening there was a bungalow party one of the guests set up. And then I went to pass out, making sure I'd get up early to move on.


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