Sweltering heat, long bicycle rides, hundreds of bugs, relaxing river swims, more waterfalls, inconspicuous river dolphins, chilled out locals, more Friends, hammocks and, of course, gluten free beer: a recipe for paradise, minus the bugs that is.
After an overnight bus trip from Vientiane to Pakse, a shorter bus trip to Nakasong and a short boat ride we arrived safely on Don Det island, amongst the 4000 Islands.
In terms of overnight sleeper buses, this was the best yet! We had a whole lie flat bed to ourselves. We stuffed our faces full with candy while watching a movie, before having a great sleep. All that was missing was a glass of wine.
We hadn’t booked accommodation, so when we got off the boat we were desperate to find somewhere to drop our bags and fill our grumbling stomachs.
There were bungalows everywhere! We found a dodgy looking one with a hole in the ground toilet and cold shower, it would do for the first night – I was getting “hangry” so couldn’t be bothered looking around!
Don Det is split in two: sunset and sunrise. Being a clever cookie, Neil realised that morning sun would mean waking up in a pool of sweat, so we opted for the sunset side since a lie in is essential! The whole place is run on big diesel generators. For most bungalows there is electricity only in the evening, between 6pm to 11pm, after that it’s candles, torches and mozzies.
Now, I can’t actually remember what this place was called, but it was very similar to most other places on the island. It had wifi, a double bed, a mosquito net (totally essential), and a basic bathroom all for 40,000 Kip ($7NZ).
The second night we tried to move, but everywhere half decent seemed full so we waited till our third night and got a better place – Sunset Bungalows.
This was a sweet get up, right on the river with the best sunset view. It cost 70,000 Kip for a double bed bungalow with a basic bathroom (this one had an actual toilet and a hot shower) and wifi. It made for a good last night in Laos.
Doing nothing sure is exhausting – bring me another beer please! The feeling of absolute bliss never left us once.
SWIMMING, BIKING, WATERFALLS, DOLPHINS AND SUNSETS:
Don Det was such a chilled out stop, it was nice to be back living the island life again – ode to the Philippines.
It was so nice to be able to swim in the river everyday, we even got free fish spas from the little hungry nibblers in the water!
We spent two days cycling around this and the neighbouring island, Don Khon. It only cost 10,000 Kip for a bicycle for the day and we never had to cycle more than 15km a day so it was very easy to get around.
On our adventures we made our way across the bridge to Don Khon to see the famous waterfalls there: Li Phi Waterfalls. It cost 35,000 Kip to get over the bridge, but that included entrance to the waterfalls as well.
It was a super hot day so we were looking forward to a swim when we got to the falls. Unfortunately there was limited swimming at the top as the river was flowing very fast.
The waterfalls were more like massive rocky rapids that continued for a long time coming from all different angles along the walk down to the bottom beach area.
We swam for a bit in the river beach, but it was so hot in the sun we went up to the bar area and had a cold shower – the beach had such a cool bar set up! After our cold showers in the shade we lay in a couple of hammocks and grabbed lunch before jumping back on our bikes to go dolphin spotting.
On our way to the southern point of Don Khon we decided to take a short cut and ended up riding through the jungle! Such fun!
When we got to the ferry port we caught a boat with two other travelers and went out to see the super rare Irrawaddy dolphins. These creatures are almost extinct because local fishermen used gunpowder and electricity to fish, killing most of the dolphins. They don’t eat the dolphins and they try not to kill them anymore, as they believe they are humans reincarnated. We were lucky enough to see two, but they only surfaced briefly and were quite far away.
The sunsets here were incredible, best we saw in Laos.
On our last night Neil spent a bit of time taking photos while we drank a few BeerLao – did I mention these are gluten free? It’s not very often I come across a good gluten free beer, but this one was top notch at the end of a hot day.
The 4000 Islands is an awesome place to simply chill out and read in a hammock, go for a bicycle ride or a swim. There’s not heaps to do here, but I think that’s the beauty and appeal of the place, plus it’s cheap! What an awesome end to our trip throughout Laos – next up we have a brief stop in Cambodia before we head to Thailand for two months! Check in again soon for more updates.