Don Det Island - Laos
12.12.2008 - 15.12.2008 29 °C
In the most southern depths of Laos lies Si Phan Don, more commonly known as the 4000 Islands. After travelling at quite a constant pace for the last 3 wks in Laos, we couldn't wait to get to the remote 4000 Islands to kick back and relax.
As dreamy as the 4000 Islands sound, in reality they are very different to the white sandy beaches and crystal blue water you imagine. Instead, this is where the Mekong River breaks up into many intricate waterways weaving its way around marsh like islands of all sorts of shapes & sizes. Because of it's unique formation and isolated location, the 4000 Islands are just as idyllic and serene.
The only form of transport to these islands is by wooden longtail boats which are chartered by the local fisherman for a small negotiable fee. We set out for Don Det Island, one of the bigger islands known for it's chilled out atmosphere and backpacker scene. As we glided through the murky Mekong water, we passed a row of charming wooden bungalows which were perched on the banks of the river shaded by a beautiful collection of palm trees. Without hesitation we asked our captain to anchor up so we leap onto solid ground and book one of the bungalows for our stay.
Boun Tip bungalows on the banks of Don Det Island
View of sunset from our bungalow
A painted picture of island life on Don Det would feature coconut palm trees swaying by the waters edge, wooden stilt houses built inland on the sunburnt yellow and green grass fields with water buffalos shimmering in pools of mud. Crowing roosters proudly parading the islands grounds with women washing their clothes whilst their children play in the river. Men playing cards along the dusty riverside walkway and a handful of colourful cafes keeping travellers happy with an array of local Lao cuisine and western fare.
A restaurant on the waters edge of Don Det
Don Det was the answer we'd be looking for. If it were any more chilled we would have frozen.
There is a limited supply of electricity between 5pm-midnight which only reinforces the simplistic way of life on the island.
Relaxing on our bungalow porch
The only time we ventured away from our slice of heaven was to explore Don Det's neighbouring island Don Khong. We hired bicycles and rode along the scenic river path and used the old connecting French built railway bridge to reach Don Khong. The landscape varied only slightly. There is a river which runs through Don Khong with an agressive waterfall which cascades over sharp and rugged rocks. The island also has small beach coves, well the closest thing you can call a beach however the current was far too strong to swim in and the sand felt like it could melt the soles of your feet. It was great to just cycle around the island, observing the locals daily routine and appreciate the natural wonders under the warmth of the sun.
Nathan on beach Don Khong
Kate on beach Don Khong
After 4 of our most favourite nights whilst travelling, we had to force ourselves to check out and catch a boat back to the mainland. The 4000 Islands is a well kept secret, well until now that is.