Paradise - 4000 Islands

Trip Start Jan 10, 2010
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Trip End Apr 16, 2010


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Where I stayed
Tena Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The long ride from Champasak to Don Det was evidently an interesting one, like any travels in Laos. It involved a two Km walk to the boat landing, that's cool, one river crossing in a VIP boat, shoot! got gipped here: 10,000kip instead of 3000kip by regular ferry..., a 10 min motorbike ride from the village to the highway 10,000kip negotiated down from 30,000kip but still expensive, Sangtaw to Ban.... 20,000kip almost 25,000kip (when got dropped off he just gave me less change. I hate these constant attempts to rip me off!!! Is quite sad you know, it really takes a lot from the joy of traveling and give the good people of Laos a bad name.) Then another motorbike taxi to the next ferry 20,000kip, this one fare and square, Ferry to Don Det (my intended destination) 15,000kip. You add up the thousands of kip and dived it by 8000 to find out the US Dollars it costs. At the ferry I met this Dutch couple coming from Cambodia and they had more horror stories about their bus ride and lies, money extortion and good stuff like this... So I felt quite lucky today...

So my last stop in Laos is this amazing place in the south where the Mekong splits in hundreds and hundreds of ways and literary creates thousands of islands, from 2 square meeter to few square KM wide, two of which are inhabited. I don't know if somebody really took the time to count them all but apparently there are 4000...
I took residence on Don Det, on the Sunset Boulevard in this nice bamboo hut equipped with a bed, a fan, a mosquito net and a hammock, overlooking the river and some spectacular sunsets (Sunset Blvd... !!! got it?) Love it! This is the place where I'm going to chill out, maybe catch up with my blog... but first lets check out the river. Sweet!! The water is fantastic, surprisingly clean, I swam between little islands for a couple of hours, always looking back trying to keep the bungalow in site. The fish here are very friendly and got a fish spa treatment for free :) OK here is what that means: if you stay still little fish will come and nibble at you feet eating the dead skin. It's weird and ticklish in the beginning but fun after you get used to it. In Siem Rieap you pay good money for same treatment on the side of the busy streets.

Meeting people when you travel is not hard at all, and 9 times out of 10 the ones you meet are wonderful like minded people that you connect to instantly. It happened to me countless times already, you meet someone you hear their travel and life stories, you tell yours and after many hours of amazing conversation you find out their names more like an afterthought. Conversations are intense in a sense that people open up quite easily and in now time you get to discuss things that back home you would probably get to after weeks or even months of knowing someone. It is probably the fact that almost all the people you meet are people that are interested and like same things like you, they are there to do the same travels as you, to discover and enjoy same experiences as you, there's a sense of community and it's fantastic!
So on these lines it took a about 20 minutes to assemble an awesome group of people in the 4000 Islands paradise. A wonderful Dutch couple and another British one, a Swede and later on another Dutch couple and yours truly. Very soon Johakim, the Swede, introduced us to "Lion King" - Government distilled LaoLao. For an exorbitant price of $1 a bottle and an additional 80cents for a 1.5L Pepsi bottle (free ice!) it became the preferred conversational lubricant and fun inducing potion for the next few days. So much so that on the second night I believe we exhausted the guesthouse owner's supply to his delight and to our misery the next morning :). In all fairness the party included a bigger group, few Aussies and a Canadian lesbian, and it took place both on land and in the water until the wee hours of the morning.
With a mild hangover we rented bicycles the next day and we went around the island to see one of the waterfalls, swam against the current of it, and chartered boats to take us out to see the famous and elusive Irawady Dolphins. The boat ride to the spot for dolphins was awesome. With the Mekong in the dry season, the waterways around these islands are shallow, very often narrow with hairpin turns and the banks are rocky and dangerous looking with these strange trees leaning down river and balancing huge drift wood trunks some 6 meters above the water line. That's how high and powerful the Mekong seems to be in the rainy season. To me that boat ride was worth my money to actually see the Irawady Dolphins... was a fantastic bonus! Shy and nose-less fresh water creatures these dolphins are an endangered species with only few dozens of pairs left. They used to be the object of entertainment for the Khmer Rouge who were throwing grenades in the water to kill them as well as hunted to the brink of extinction by the hungry locals during the same dark times of Cambodian civil war. Nowadays they are protected and a major tourism attraction which definitely contributed to their increased numbers.
As intended, these few days on Don Det were super-relaxing, and having all these great friends around, priceless. But the time came to get my self out of this blissful "dolce far niente" and move along to the next country on my route: Cambodia.
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Comments

peter and cecilia on

Beautifull!!!! And interesting!!!! We are waiting for the next travelreport!!!

Radu on

Draga Tony,

Ma bucur de ceea ce vezi acolo, e superb si foarte diferit de tot ce am vazut eu prin America de Sud , sau Centrala, sau prin Caraibe.

sa ne vedem cu bine, ai de gand sa ramai pe acolo?

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