Saturday, 2 April 2011

The 4000 Islands


We eventually made it to Paske after yet another classic tuk tuk scam. Ok, so this time we pull into a petrol station and the driver opens the door and a tuk tuk driver shouts "Pakse", so now this becomes the northern bus station. After all the fellow falang and ourselves disembarked and collected our bags we then found out that the bus was continuing towards Paske. So we all got back on board? We got off just outside the centre and although we still had to get on a tuk tuk it was only for a few km to the town centre. We didn't really do much whilst in Paske but were able to get some proper food, which is always a good point. We only spent two nights there before setting off to our final destination of Laos, The 4000 Islands.

Don Khong

Although we had vowed never to willingly get in the back of a Toyota minivan again, we found this the best option for the short 120km journey south. It took about 2 hours for us to reach the ferry crossing to the largest of the islands Don Khong. We did the short crossing on a small long tail boat and checked into one of the few guest houses along the Mekong. Don Khong is the largest island in the 4000 islands and we were expecting quiet and chilled. Well after having a trip around the island on a scooter we soon realised although very peaceful and beautiful it was also a bit too quiet. The whole island is just tiny bamboo villages, with the complementary over sized sky dish of course. We spent one night in Don Khong and the following day decided to take a 2 hour boat trip down river to one of the busier islands to see if there was more to do and see.

Don Det

We made it to Don Det early in the morning after a lovely boat trip down the Mekong. The area known as the 4000 islands is the widest part of the Mekong with loads of small islands, mainly inhabited by local farmers and fishermen. We were expecting it to be chilled out and it really was. We found a good guest house and a fairly good room for 90,000 kip, which is about £8. The majority of accommodation on Don Det seems to be sheds on stilts and although very cheap are totally basic and consist of a bed in a shed. No windows, just bars and pretty unstable looking. We spent our first day chilling out and that evening bumped into a couple we had met earlier in Paske. The next day we met up with Emma & Charlie and went on bike ride to some waterfalls on the next island, Don Kon. The waterfalls were pretty impressive considering that it was currently dry season. 

The following day we decided to go on a Kayak trip down the Mekong. We set off in our double open top canoe early and after an hour or so we got out and had a 5 min walk to the waterfalls that we had been the previous day. We walked a bit further and eventually came to our kayaks which had been transported down river by locals. Back in the canoe and we continued downstream for a few mins. We stopped again, but this time it was to climb to the top of this massive rock and jump off into the river below. We were assured that the water was deep and the guide was first to go. It was high! Well, we all made it off safely and then back to the canoes. We continued on down stream though some mini rapids and after a little more than an hour we made it to our lunch spot, a small rock in the middle of the Mekong. This spot was also the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin viewing spot. We did manage to catch a far off glimpse of the dolphins but it was very far away. After lunch and a quick swim it was back in the canoes for another journey down river. After a hour or so we made it to the Laos main land near the boarder with Cambodia and got out of our canoes. After a short break we all got on a big tuk-tuk with our canoes strapped on the roof and headed off to the biggest waterfall in South East Asia. Now this was impressive, the sound was really loud and it was huge. The day finished with a trip further up river and then we canoed back to Don Det. We were shattered! A nice dinner and few drinks completed a really good day trip.

We decide to spend two more days in Laos before heading south to Cambodia. We went tubing one day, but this time we got taken upstream in a boat and left to float back, it was really peaceful. On our last day we just spent all morning lazing about in hammocks near the river. In the afternoon Chris had arranged a 3 hour fishing trip. He returned back about 5 hours later with no fish. The following day we were off to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

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