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Published: January 16th 2013
Don Det, one of the islands in the Four Thousand Islands. We arrived by bus from Pakse to the main land of 4,000 islands and took a boat across the Mekong river to Don Det. As soon as we arrived to water buffalo swimming in the river and sunbathing on the beach next to people I knew I was going to like this place.
we met a fellow traveller on the bus ride down, Cassie, and together went in search for some cheap accommodation, not difficult given Don Det is quite small and its just one pathway that leads all way round the island. We found some little riverside bungalows which were dirt cheap (£3 per night) so me and Pete decided this was the place.
We went for an explore of the island on foot walking along the pathway and coming across roaming chickens, ducks, pigs and dogs. Plus many Laotians sleeping the day away under trees and on their doorsteps (a life i think Pete would quite like) Or for the more awake, playing Patank. Pete really wanted to do a fishing trip so we found a man that said he would take us later that afternoon
once the weather had cooled down slightly.
We arrived later for our fishing trip and found there were 3 others joing us which was good. We were presented with some bamboo rods with a bit of fishing wire attached which made us all laugh and realise it was unlikely we would catch anything with these. We grabbed some beers as thought we might need some other entertainment.
We set off in the long boat across the river and stopped on a bank where Joe helped the local (Su) dig for worms as baite. We then set off again to another bank where we were given the rods and told to stand and fish from the beach. We were in hysterics by this point as Chris (the Belgian) was moaning about how we had been ripped off and there was no way we would catch anything.
We stood for about half an hour dangling our bamboo rods into the river with not even a nibble from a fish. Manuel, who had his own rod, suddenly said he had something and reeled in a rather small fish, but hey at least it was a fish. Not long after Chris
got excited as he had something too. When he reeled it in, even the locals didn't know what type of fish it was, all we knew was that it was tiny and very ugly.
We stood for another 30-40 mins drinking a few beers and watching the beautiful sun setting over the hills. Needless to say, as expected, we caught no fish and so were invited to have a free BBQ with Su the following day. Despite not catching anything, we had a great laugh, met some nice people and got to see probably the best sunset I've ever seen.
The following day we decided to chill out and do the local Laotian past-time of tubing. Now for any English people reading this you may also be confused at what this is and will be none the wiser if you google it or read the description in the lonely planet. Basically tubing is sitting in a big rubber ring and floating down the river, usually with a few beer Lao's if you want to follow tradition. This truly is the most relaxing way to spend a few hours - something the Laotians seem to be very used to.
Pete trying to fish with a bamboo rod
One thing to note is its quite far to the bridge (which links Don Det to Don Khon) so be patient and stay on the tubes until you reach this point as we got off far too early.
After a couple of hours we had lunch and chilled out by laying in hammocks on the balcony of the bungalows. In the evening we set off for our free fish BBQ hoping the others would also turn up. after waiting a few minutes Chris turned up so went and sat on a rug next to a fire with Su and his family. Soon after Joe also came over and we served a lovely fish (apparently catfish but I don't think it was) with sticky rice and spicy sauce. We sat there eating the fish with our fingers and chatting away. It was really nice to get to see the way the locals have dinner.
Afterwards we headed to a bar for a few drinks as it was our last night in Laos before heading to Cambodia. We really enjoyed Laos, especially Don Det purely for the relaxed and carefree vibe and the really friendly locals who could not have
been nicer. Traveller Tips: If your heading to south Laos, skip Pakse and spend more time in four thousand islands, it's far nicer and there is more to do. If possible stay for a while so you get to see all the main islands as opposed to one, especially as here seemed to be one of the cheapest places we've encountered on our entire travels so a good place to keep within budget. Bring cash as there isn't an ATM on Don Det. There is one on the mainland (only a few minutes across the river by boat) but the ATM charges you for use. No need to book accommodation beforehand there are loads of places available and are all of similar price (Between 40,000-50,000kip per night for a room). Do as the Laostians do - relax with a beer. although there are trips if you want a bit more activity e.g. Kayaking to see waterfalls and dolphins, fishing and of course tubing.
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