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4000 Islands

It's early evening when we reach Don Det, but due to our long journey it feels like it's very late in the night. Having no map of the place and only the name of two guest houses on the island we're a bit lost as to where to stay. We soon realise we won't find the recommended two places and just search around till we find a decent place to crash. Our journey from Savannakhet turned out to be an interesting one, although quite exhausting. We started off with a local bus from Savannakhet to Pakse - nothing odd in itself, just the same standard as our way from Vientiane to Savannakhet with the usual storage of goods along the middle of the bus and people on plastic stools filling the gaps between the bags of rice, or whatever the content was, stacked in the isle. Getting out of the bus at breaks is like the assault course of a military training camp... When we arrive at Pakse we have to find a means of transport to the bus depot on the other side of town 15 kilometres away, and the tuc-tuc driver's eyes lights up when he see a bunch of tourists coming off the bus of course. We decide not to join the crown of tourists cooped up in the tiny vehicle and go outside of the bus depot and flag down a tuc-tuc for ourselves (turns out to be cheaper, and without being crammed full).

As we’re passing by the outskirts and centre of Pakse we notice this place is quite a lot dirtier than the places we’ve visited in Laos, with rubbish everywhere and everything caked in dust. The bus stations were really grotty, especially the northern station where we arrived at coming down from Savannakhet. Here the cows were eating rubbish from a heap behind the really disgusting toilets – it’s like we'd been thrown back to India again. It looks like this area is very poor compared to the places we’ve visited so far in Laos.

At the opposite end of town we learn the rest of the journey will be by large tuc-tuc and not a bus as our guide was indicating. Sitting in an open truck on dusty roads doesn't particularly appeal to us, but we don't have much of a choice. With us on the journey was mix of what looked like poor manual labourers and more well-to-do people, a piglet in a bag (only the snout sticking out) and lots of bags of cement, armouring rods snaked around and strapped to the roof and the sides, pig-fodder, and something that were leaking tons of dust that almost choked every one and all on the truck. We had the pleasure of a three and a half hours journey at these conditions stopping off everywhere picking up and delivering goods of various descriptions. If it hadn't been so extremely dusty at the back it wouldn't have been such a bad way of travelling - sure beats the way our fellow passenger, the piglet, was travelling though stuffed in a bag and squashed under a seat... When we arrived at the Ban Nakasan village, from where we would get our boat to the island, we were in luck as a bus had just arrived from the Cambodian border, this meant there were enough people to get a boat at a decent price, and also that we didn't have to wait for long before departure. The boat-trip was a little bit crammed, but quite pleasant as we were gliding on the water in the moonshine with a sprinkle of stars above. Many of the other passengers acted as they've never seen a starry sky before so there was a lot of aaah ooooh woooow going on.

Don Det is a tranquil haven after a long dusty and noisy journey from Savannakhet and we were happy to just take it very easy and not do too much. We did however go dolphin-spotting and had a visit to one of Asia’s largest waterfalls as a half day trip. We managed to see some dolphins in the distance, but none came close to our boat really. The boat-ride in itself was really calming, especially just floating around on the river waiting for the dolphins to appear.

[caption id="attachment_1613" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1614" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1615" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1616" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1617" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1618" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1619" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1620" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1621" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1622" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1623" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1624" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands. Khon Phapheng Falls, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1625" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ban Nakasang Village, 4000 Islands. Ban Nakasang Village, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1626" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Ban Nakasang Village, 4000 Islands. Ban Nakasang Village, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1627" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1628" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1629" align="aligncenter" width="545"]4000 Islands. 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1630" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1631" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1632" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1633" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1634" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1635" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1636" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1637" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1638" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1639" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1640" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1641" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1642" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Don Det, 4000 Islands. Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1643" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands. Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1644" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands. Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1645" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands. Impromptu beach party, Don Det, 4000 Islands.[/caption]

We book our further travel to Siem Reap from one of the travel agent’s on the island and it’s advertised as a ten hour journey, but this is clearly a big lie as we were to discover later on. We leave early in the morning only to spend hours waiting for the bus to take us to the Cambodian border. We then have another two hours wait there before we can finally get onto the bus taking us further towards Siem Reap. With one more change of busses (we were told the journey would be direct...) we finally get to Siem Reap four hours later than advertised - which meant in the middle of the night of course... The organiser of this less than perfect journey was of course trying to sell everyone a place at his chosen hotel. Needless to say he got no takers from a mob of angry, fed up and tired travellers.