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Published: March 13th 2017
Si Phan Don, or The Four Thousand Islands as it is known, lies on a very wide section of the Mekong River just North of the Cambodian border. With its many islands of land rising up from the river's waters (hence the name) and the relaxed friendly nature of the fisherman and farmers that inhabit them, little goes on here. It was just the place I needed to unwind for a bit after a couple of hard days on the road and an even harder sixteen hour journey on the bus I took to get here. Showing up around 10am my first order of business was securing a bungalow ($50,000kip) on the river's edge and getting some well needed rest.
My days here were spent doing as little as possible. The family that ran the bungalows where I stayed were exceptionally friendly and I enjoyed eating at the little restaurant that was attached to the humble complex. Looking right out over the lazy river flowing by, it was easy to get mesmerized by the life giving waters as the hours of the day passed away. I spent a lot of time laying in my hammock, reading, listening to music, and
thinking about where I wanted to go next and how I was going to get there. Naturally with Cambodia being just to the South, that would be the next destination.
I did manage to leave the nexus that was my hammock to book a full day out on the river paddling my way down on a kayak. Really a fun activity to do and I got to see a lot of the river here I would not have otherwise had access too. This stretch of the Mekong is also home to the super endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. It is estimated only 50 or so are alive on the planet and a small pod lives here. We were lucky enough to spot them during our journey downriver. Again I was reminded of my time on the Amazon River when I would spot the pink dolphins of that region. At the end of our kayak journey, we loaded up our boats onto a tuk tuk and were taken to what is billed as SE Asia's largest waterfall. A nice scene, but after you have been to Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil, no waterfall stands up to the grandeur.
Whilst swinging in my
hammock I had a lot of time to reflect and remember. I thought about the places I have been and the people I have met. When I think of the whole picture it seems like only yesterday I began. But when I think about individual experiences, there are so many it seems like a lifetime. I have been very fortunate and it is a good life. For reasons I cannot explain, I have led a charmed one. I also had time to think and plot my next moves and I've come up with a framework that is eventually going to lead me back home. It is time for my return. I am ready. The decision and commitments have been made. Moves have been enacted. The wheels are turning and it is now only a matter of time.
Laos as a country has been a great experience for me. I really loved it here. The warmth and smiles of the people and their welcoming nature is something I will forever remember and be thankful for. But for me it was time to get out of my hammock and onto yet another 16 hour bus ride. This time from 8am until
I rolled into Siem Reap, Cambodia at midnight. The Mighty Wats of Angkor are before me.
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