Off to “4000 islands”! Where?!

I’ve arrived at Don Det in 4000 islands and now sitting watching the sun set on the sunset side of the headland where most tourist bungalows lie, or to the sunrise side for morning sun. 

Bungalow sounds grander than they are, just small huts on the river edge with shared bathrooms (where?) or like mine, rooms with en-suite (again ‘grander’) and just a fan.  Oh so hot, will I cope or move off the water for air con at double the price?

I’ve walked half way around the area – found Don Det village with school children of all ages walking home or to school, bikes of course, plus water buffalo everywhere down south, cows and pigs too, and the requisite chickens and cocks.

Dirt track took me past bungalows and restaurants – might try the Aussies bar on the other side for BBQ meats he called to tell me as I walked by – some homes nice, cement or poorer and wooden, some dirtier yards than others but all muddy.

A Londoner owns or runs this ‘hotel’ and bits of chat, not much. 

Ate my chicken sandwich by the water, sun shimmering on the steadily flowing river, as the sun slowly sets at 5pm, small motor boats passing to and fro, drinking my cold pineapple shake. Yum. Didn’t eat today getting up early and thinking I’d last until lunch but ended up being 2pm with prawn fried rice. 

My last shower didn’t cool me so see how it is tonight.

Oh and did I mention that I spent the afternoon swinging slowly in a hammock by the waterside lodges?  It was lovely, and I just lay there, dozed off, woke and swayed some more, watching clouds change, dragon flies buzz around, boats pass and the never ending river flow by, thinking of nothing very much…

Been here two days now, off to waterfall and dolphins with Rebecca from the sunshine coast in Aus.  Nice woman, storm chaser, traveller.   Met nice people, dinner with Amanda from America, just out of Cambodia after a year living and a bit of work as English teacher.  Arranged to meet for Indian after kayaking (her not me) but didn’t catch up, so just Rebecca and I went, then Sonja and Chris joined us and talked of conspiracy theories and other stuff…

Yesterday I walked up the Sunset path to Don Khone, and apparently almost made the small waterfall, but you never know what’s around the next corner, something or nothing – and it was sooo hot!!  Met Rebecca on way back so mentioned trip and sorted later.

went on to reggae bar after with Sonia, chilled, chatted with beer, saw pups and met Manny there again…

Breakfast here at Happy Bar (didn’t get that inference before but here I am) and listed to some guys planning a swim across the Mekong!!! crazy, as so rapid and three metres higher in wet season, but moving island to island – not set off yet though… 

Young hippy types, smoke and drink, risk and fun.   And then me…

Two young German boys next door to me, cute looking and bodies!!!  A bit shy and awkward around me.  

Don Det to Don Khong – A mini adventure!

On Saturday, we went to see the Irrawaddy dolphins at Don Khone, the next island across from Don Det where we are staying.    We being the Australian girl, Bex, that I met as we arrived by boat, and I had sat next to her.  She offered me her hand, along with the three young French guys (I found out later) as I struggled on to the boat with my rucksack, over all the bags already dumped by the others on before me.

We went out, just us two, on a motor launch with the guide and driver, and had about nine sightings, here and there, heads turning side to side, jumping up, shouting “there!” and then quietly waiting for the next appearance.

We had arrived at the boat jetty bike tuk tuk!!! Neither of us small girls, we fitted on the side seats, bouncing and bumping over narrow muddy tracks, through villages, one with a metal base for concrete being set as we drove over it!  Through trees and fields, over the bridge above a raging river, laughing and bracing, then on to the river bank to catch the boat.  Through the islands and then by boat out onto the brown river, to find the right spot for our viewings.   

On the way back, as it was moving to dusk, and with fun and adventure behind us, we broke down on the way back!   We started to drift as the engine cut, caught in a floating grass bed that should have been spotted maybe, and the two older guys grabbing oar and wood to get us back to the shore and out of the strong river current taking us who knows where!  (Well, later on we found out where we may have ended up at a huge, strong and noisy waterfall downriver that looked pretty scary as we continued our adventurous day out!)

We managed to get the boat to shore – or they did, and we jumped out into the jungle.  As we walked through a small holding of a house and family tending around the smallholding and outhouses, looking curiously at these wanderers!   We were near enough to walk back to the landing jetty, through the village and forest, once rowed us through heavy currents to shore, and then back into to tuk tuk. 

We had a brief rest back at the village where we picked up the trip, across the island (minutes away!) from out hostels, before our local guide readied his little motor boat (love it!) and took us over to the mainland!   A squeeze and balancing act to get in and stay in, it was lovely to actually ride one, not just watch them motoring regularly up and across the river with locals going about their business!

On we went then, arriving and struggling out onto the bank, sent ahead down the avenue between stalls of all kinds, where we’d arrived days before.   He would wait for us and take us back later.

We found the transport to the next leg of the trip to the waterfall we wanted to see.

It was another bike, and this time, I was put on the back and Bex in the seated car next to it!

We set off down the dusty path and as we drove, and the driver skilfully avoided the many, many holes and dips in the road, the trees and obstacles, as he went – it got darker and dimmer.   A storm – a real storm! – was brewing quickly and there we were on a bike, no shelter, no waterproofs or anything but the clothes on our backs, and our bags on our shoulder!  

Bex was getting so excited!   She told me, over the wind pounding us as we drove at speed, and built as the storm built up too, that she was, back in Aus, a storm chaser!

So out she got her go-pro head band, professional camera at the ready and watching the gathering storm clouds!!!!   I was not quite so excited …

Even a little scared, I watched it build as we actually drove into it!   It was intense winds, noisy and buffeting, and darker and darker.  The driver was looking at us worried and I think, hoping we would ask to turn back.  But no, we soldiered on in our adventure!

As we arrived at the waterfall, got entrance and arranged where to meet the driver two hours later the rain started slowly… then heavier and heavier as we dragged our waterproofs out of bags, covered electricals in bags or covers and walked on down and around the pathways, viewing the falls and raging river as we went toward the ultimate viewing platform.

It was intense watching the water flow urgently and heavily along the river bed, still wide but much faster and stronger than we had seen upriver, where it just flowed steadily and lazily along, a steady strong current, but calm and tranquil as it flowed by.

This impressive if daunting storm hit as we arrived at the last platform, luckily covered with many others there taking cover from the now pouring rain!

Here, the waterfall was really impressive!  So powerful and raging, gallons of water flowing over the various sheer cliffs and huge rocks, cutting away weak rock to make separate flows into the turmoil of water and spray about 200 meters below us!

Bex took photo after photo, and offered to share them with me as I couldn’t use my iPad for the water and spray around!  She loved it, the drama, noise, excitement fo the river and the storm!  It was exciting and I enjoyed every second too, driving, riding, walking, watching!  This waterfall at Don Khong and our dolphin excursion earlier was not expensive to us, but was for Asia.   But it was worth every kip of the price we paid for the fun, laughter, mishaps and adventure we had that day!

On the way back we drove steadily, the storm now passed but roads wet, yet we never faltered around the holes, puddles or no doubt slippery surfaces, and he got us back to the boat in time.

As we got to the boat, with its carpet laid out for us for comfort, we sat down… and realised it was left out in the storm and was wet through!   Uh Oh, wet bottoms abounded here!  But we just laughed, and sat there, enjoying the view and the memories, chatting excitedly about our adventurous day out and fun we’d had!

Out of the boat at the other end, walking back to the hostels, we met two guys we know, Jacob and Jack, and told them where we’d been and how it went.  I turned to show off my wet butt, and as the rest of us must have also looked pretty dishevelled, there was little point in trying to hide it all so we just laughed it off!   From their faces I think they thought we were a bit crazy and giddy!

Well, we probably were!

It was such great memories and good company, Bex was fun to travel with and was up for anything (me, almost anything!).  I loved Don Det from relaxing hammocks and sleepy afternoons, to fun filled storm ridden trips to other islands, Laos was a great visit!

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