The Riverflow

Trip Start Jun 12, 2011
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Trip End Oct 22, 2012


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Where I stayed
Senelhaven Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don Det is by far our favourite place we have been to so far and we would have easily got stuck there had our Laos visa not been about to run out.

An island in the Mekong River in the far south of Laos near the Cambodia border and part of what is know as the 4000 Islands, Don Det is a welcome change of pace. Sleepy riverside villages with sarong clad ladies and children playing in the mud or cying bikes that are twice their size.  The villagers  plough the fields with water buffalo and busily collect up the rice in the paddy fields.  In the villages the ladies grow spring onions on platforms and dry chillies in the sun while water buffalo munch on grass with bells clinking around their necks and chickens roam freely with the odd sound of a cockrell calling.  Its really peaceful with nothing but the sounds of the river and a distant waterfall or the odd tinkle of a passing bicycle bell chiming. 

Needless to say we did a lot of relaxing in Don Det.  Lying in hammocks watching life pass by on the river.  The long wooden long-tail boats carrying their wares  to and from the mainland, the water man delivering fresh bottled water, another delivering bags of potatoes and fruit, even the odd motorbike precariously balanced on a wooden platform strung over two boats side by side.  We had a lovely bungalow which is one of the few on the island to have a private bathroom with a river water shower and a big balcony complete with a hammock and bamboo deck chair overlooking the river on sunset side, all for 3.20/night.  The food at our guesthouse was Laos home cooking and was the best food we had eaten in Laos hands down and cheap as chips.

As its rainy season there are no beaches as the water levels rise at this time of year but many of the guesthouses have platforms over the river so you can sit on low cushions over the water sipping beer laos and watching the sunset. We ate a lot and drank a lot in Don Det, and had a good excuse as we were trying to use all our kip before leaving Laos but thats harder to do than you think in the islands as they are so cheap!  The most active we were was hiring bikes to cycle around the island and the neighbouring Don Kon accessed over an old railway bridge built by the French.  We did try to charter a boat to see the rare fresh water Irrawaddy dolphins but didn't like the idea of crossing the border to Cambodia so resolved to see them in Cambodia instead.

After dragging ourselves away from Don Det on the last day of our visa we headed into Cambodia and found ourselves in Kratie.  Described as a town with old indo-china colonial charm we found that it was far from it.  Very run down and dirty with what was obviously once a nice river front , now is a rubbish dump.  We stayed 2 nights which was long enough to take a trip out to see the dolphins and then hopped on an early bus to Phnom Penh the next day.
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