A Travellerspoint blog

Been there Don Det

4000 Islands

The next day in Don Det we woke up early to the sound of many cockerels and first checked the bed to make sure we hadn't been bitten by bed bugs having heard that this had been a downside to the cheaper guest houses. Thankfully we dodged that inconvenience and were able to take stock of our surroundings as we had not seen what was in front of our room due to darkness. The view from our room was fantastic and allowed us to take in sights of the Mekong that surrounds these islands.

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Unfortunately the owners of our guesthouse were not very welcoming and therefore we decided not to have breakfast there and walked a couple of mins up the path to the restaurants that are near the 'port'. The standard eggs and baguette were consumed and we decided today would be a good day to cycle the island. The cycle hire was opposite the restaurant so after a quick stroll to check prices we opted for the last two bikes they had (despite the dodgy/lack of brakes) and off we went down the path past our guesthouse heading south.

It was a quaint little pathway dotted with guesthouses along way that were a little more upmarket than ours, we kicked ourselves for a second having only ventured a short while down the path the night before but soon realised ours was perfect because it was cheap! The sun was shining and the bike ride was really pleasant and we made it to the edge of the island fairly soon. There was a bridge that we could take over to Don Khon Island which offered a waterfall to visit but we decided as we were kayaking the next day that we would see plenty of waterfalls and plus there was a 'foreigner' toll to cross which seemed a bit daft as we were paying to visit it the next day, so we rode back taking in the rest of the road that runs through Don Det. We passed a herd of cows which Sarah decided to photo as well as a couple of guys chopping down a tree, we waited for it to fall but as it was taking a while we decided to head back to a guesthouse to chill and decide next steps, only for the tree to topple just as we turned our backs. Rats!!

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As you have probably seen from previous posts we have a knack for making feline friends and it wasn't long after stopping at Mama's Guesthouse for a drink that we found another. Don't know his name but he was keen to lie by me and doze.

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We knew we needed to head back to book our Kayak tour and we wanted to have enough time to see the sunset on the other side of the island, so we said goodbye to the cat and headed back to the 'centre' as it were. We booked our trip with Wonderful tours having scoped out a few places and realised that they all were pretty much doing the same thing for the same price. That left us plenty of time to go chill at Little Eden to watch the sunset and even enjoy a glass of white wine which had been so hard to come by for a long time during our last few weeks across Cambodia and Vietnam.

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An early start was part of the itinerary for our kayaking and we made our way to the restaurant for complimentary breakfast and met up with a nice couple from Perth, which is quite uncanny considering we had only just left Chris and Nicole. Gerard and Mascha were really friendly and we thought that it was a nice bonus to have some people to hang out with during the trip. After bagging up in dry bags and collecting oars and life jackets we made our way to the shore to set off down the river. The first leg was relatively easy but we did hit a few snags along the way when the river turned our boat and we ended up going into a bush that sat along the river. After that little mishap we came ashore and took a sort walk to the first waterfall. At first glance the view point wasn't that great but luckily there was a makeshift path down the small hillside to the base of the waterfall where we were able to get better photos and I even managed to cool off at a nearby smaller waterfall.

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Having chilled out there for a while we walked again to our next 'dock' and the kayaks had been carried to the destination ready for us to get on the river again. It gave us a chance to chat with Gerard and Mascha again which was nice and soon we were off. We had been told that the next part involved a slightly more difficult route but it wasn't really explained exactly. The rapids for the next section were a little bit more difficult and we didn't quite get the knack of it the whole way but managed to get through it without too much bother. It wasn't until we approached the next rapids that everyone had to stop, which isn't easy when you are on a moving river, in order to allow each kayak to go down one by one. We ended up volunteering ourselves to go first due to mainly me not directing the kayak very well and so we approached the turn and stuck to the orders by the guide to stay to the left only to then be told to go right to divert past a fishing dam that was built across the water. We went so off course that the local guide had to grab our kayak and literally swing us in the right direction. After the readjustment it was plain sailing from there.

The next spot for us to relax after paddling was out amongst the Irrawaddy Dolphins that were native to that part of the river. We had seen them in Kratie but it was still good to be part of the group trying to scope them out, we even got to see them pop out of the water a few times. The slightly bizarre part of the trip was that was went for lunch in Cambodia having crossed the border line to go ashore. It was bizarre because no passports or visas were required. The lunch was basic but it filled a hole and it was needed as the next leg of the kayaking was pretty intense. We paddled for at least 25 mins against the current and poor Sarah was struggling as it aggravated her hip problem, but she did really well to make it to the end.

The end was a small beach where we found kids playing footie and it was the groups job to get the kayaks up the hill to the trucks for them to be ferried back to next location, which wasn't exactly what you needed after a long slog with the paddles. The trucks that came to pick us up left much to be desired in terms of size and we watched the guides, with the help of a few large guys get the kayaks chucked on and tied up, it was then left to the rest of us to cram in. I had gotten on last and ended up standing at the back which I kind of liked as I wasn't crammed, and two I got to stick my head out in the wind like an excited dog.

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We ventured onwards to our next stop which was Khone Pha Pheng, the largest cascading waterfall in South East Asia. The rock formation along the river scales 15m high and 1km in width meaning the water comes crushing down at a fast rate. It was pretty cool to look upon but by no means on par with the likes of Victoria or Niagara but a nice stop nonetheless. Upon leaving the waterfall we drove back to Nakasang village to kayak back to Don Det. A slight snag occurred when the driver pulled up before the turn off only to be revealed by Gerard that we had run out of petrol. Seeing as we weren't far away we laughed it off and soon enough we were on our way and back at the rivers edge to see a little bit of the sunset again as we kayaked back to Don Det.

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During our trip we had been able to meet another couple from Ireland, Karyn and Kieran who we befriended with Masha and Gererd and we all decided to have dinner together. We popped back to the bungalow first and had the 'incident of 1000 flies', as the door was slightly ajar when the light was on loads of tiny flies came in and it wasn't until they started falling to the floor like rain from dying against the hot light that we noticed. They were everywhere! Sarah couldn't keep up with sweeping them out the room so we turned the lights off and headed to a bar to escape them hoping they would be gone when we got back. The bungalow next door had left their porch light on and literally had millions outside their door!

We tried our first Lao dish, Lao Laap at dinner and we shared recommendations on places to go and stay as we were travelling in opposite directions. Karyn and Kieran then joined us for few more drinks and we took them to the restaurant with the puppies, and Karyn revealed to us that she also doesn't eat fruit and was so pleased to hear that Sarah didn't either! And I thought she was the only one!

It was a fun night taking in more stories of travels. All in all a good day.

The next day we would leave early for Pakse.

Stay tuned for more tales .....

Dan

Posted by doyledan 06:53 Archived in Laos

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