Adventures in Laos!
The writing of this post was put on hold due to some other adventures in Europe. I’ll try to recount as much as possible.
We took a bus ride from Siem Reap to Don Det. The border crossing was an adventure in and of itself. Not only do you have to pay for the Visa but on the bus you also have to pay a stamp fee for both countries and then you have to pay for the bus attendant to get the stamps for you. If you offer to do it yourself they will either, not wait for you, or you can save yourself a dollar with a lot of walking and waiting between border buildings.
Don Det is part of 4,000 Islands (who actually counted these…I have no idea). It’s definitely an island culture. We arrived very late in the night and it was very dark. You arrive by boat to a very small town and have to find accommodations just by seeing who’s awake or who has signs that say they have rooms. There are no cars, just bikes and motorbikes. We ended up in a bungalow that was very close to the water with one king bed for the three of us but we also had our own bathroom. This was actually a really good deal, as most places in Don Det do not have their own toilet attached to the room, much less a shower. And hot water was a premium we did not experience but we heard it was possible.
In Don Det you can rent bicycles and ride around the whole Island in about 30 minutes or walk it in less than two. You can also ride over a bridge to Don Khon. You can take a boat ride around the islands for a wonderful sunset view and a great viewing of the Don Khon waterfalls. Living in Oregon, I have seen many waterfalls but this is unlike anything I have ever seen in any of my travels around Oregon and beyond. It was very rocky and wide and the water was rushing and gushing. It’s always so hard to explain these things in words. It’s something you have to see for yourself to completely experience the magnificence.
Don Det is a great place to go and relax. There are many restaurants around the island where you just go and lay around for hours and of course, eat and drink. If you want to stay connected to the outside world you may or may not find wifi. If the restaurant does have wifi you will find that the connection is very slow (can we say dial-up?). I guess this is a message, that says, you should be relaxing instead of checking in back home.
Another thing to do in Don Det, for those that wish, is to indulge in happy shakes or space cookies. There are many places that sell this experience. It’s even more relaxing than just lying around and enjoying the quiet. If that’s not your scene (as it was not mine) you can also enjoy some Lao Lao. This is the local spirit. It’s something like a white whiskey but not as rough. It’s very delicious, especially mixed with Coke or Orange Juice. It’s also very cheap. If you are in the know, you can go to a local establishment “Paradise” and fill up your water bottle with Lao Lao for just a couple dollars. This can keep your group going for hours. Talk about a budget friendly island.
If sitting in hammocks or laying down in restaurants is not your thing you can also go to Don Khon is to see the endangered Irawaddy dolphins of which there are less than 20 left. Caution: This is another one of those relaxing experiences as you have to sit and wait for awhile before you see them. If you are lucky you will see one less than 10 feet from your boat. They are tough to get pictures of but it’s more than that, it’s an experience. One that may not be something you can do in the future. So, if this is for you, do it today! Don’t wait.
To me, life is not about the money in your bank account but the experiences you have along the way.