Sunsets from my hammock
Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
248Trip End Aug 15, 2008
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Si Phan Don, 'the 4,000 islands', occupies the region of the Mekong river immediately north of the border and, much as the name suggests, is an area of many, many little sandbars and islands. Though I guess '3,999 islands' would be more accurate, since one allegedly sank recently because there were too many people on it. Most of the islands aren't inhabited, and those that are have very few residents, and are mostly lacking in things we take for granted, such as cars and electricity. It was fantastic.
I was staying on the main 'budget-oriented' island, Don Det, and while it lacked a truly isolated feel, it was a great place to let the mind unwind for a while. Because I obviously haven't been doing enough of that recently :) Though there was electricity from 6 until 10 in the evening, for the most part it was a quiet and peaceful place. In the week I spent here, I once managed to get myself out onto a bike and explore the waterfalls and beaches of the neighbouring Don Khon, though it was a substantial effort to force myself from out of my hammock for that. The general structure of my day seemed to be along the lines of: get up late, lie in my hammock reading/pondering the deeper meaning of life (dreaming of cheese)/vegetating until the sun got too hot (usually around 3), move over to the other side of the island for lunch and fruit shakes until early evening, move back to my hammock to enjoy a spectacular sunset, find a place for dinner, pass out by 11
And as for the sunsets, I'll refer you to the one time I actually attempted to get a description down on paper:
'Lying in my hammock on the porch of my bungalow, built on stilts over the river, I look out over dozens of small islands covered in thick, scrubby growth and occasionally connected by sandbars. As the sun fades into a cloud bank, the sky turns up a riot of colours, from the rapidly darkening blue up high through paler and paler shades, then yellows and oranges and reds as the sky descends to the horizon, until it appears almost indigo. The still water mirrors the sky, reflecting and amplifying the oil-slick rainbow beauty. Two narrow, motorised boats momentarily shatter the peace, but once passed, their intertwining wakes transform the mirrored surfaced into a geometric pattern both headache-inducing in it's complexity and stunningly beautiful. Peaks of bright reflected blue are interrupted by troughs of deep purple, then checkerboard and further mingle into something far beyond description. The sky gradually darkens and the colours intensify; red-gold beams shoot out into the night sky like searchlights. As these fade, a lone fisherman in a rowboat casts his net, silhouetted against the purple that is all that remains.'
Doesn't do it justice in the slightest, but it's as close as I could get. I hope it conveys enough that you understand why I spent almost a week here and did very little at all.