Don Det – a very relaxed last week in Laos

When we arrived in Nakasong we had to walk a bit to the ferry, exchange our ticket and wait for the boat. Ferry is a bit too much, it´s basically a slightly bigger long tail boat which they pack to the rim. Didn´t feel very safe, but all made it over to the island of Don Det dry and safely eventually. I hadn´t booked any accommodation only looked for some tips in travel blogs. So I started walking. There are no cars on the island and also no real streets, either sand or dirt paths is all there is. Beautiful but a bit unpractical with the luggage. I dragged my bag along for a while. It was very hot and I was drenched in sweat, hungry and thirsty. So I only walked about 1 km out of the main area where the ferry lands and got myself a small room to myself with bathroom for one night just next to the river with a hammock in front of the room for 50000 Kip (~4,90 €) at Mama Mon´s & Papa´s Restaurant and Bungalows. I only booked one night since I intended to look for a nicer place without my luggage after I had lunch and something to drink. While I was walking around to get to the place I had in mind I ran into Carole (the French girl I had met while trekking in Luang Namtha about 2 weeks earlier). She already had a nice bungalow at Mr Tho´s and she offered me that we could share. She was happy with 30000 Kip per night from my side. I happily accepted her offer from the next day on. I got my clothes to the laundry, walked around

read in the hammock and got some stuff done. For dinner I went to Mama Thanon and had a lovely pumpkin burger there with French fries and Beerlao. Watched a movie on my laptop that night and had a very good sleep in a room alone first time for quite a while. The light switch was outside the room which was quite impractical, the bathroom door wouldn´t close, I had to block it with my backpack and I also had to ask for a new fan since mine would constantly stop working in this wobbly socket even if I taped it. After several tries and complaints I finally got another one that worked better. Couldn´t charge anything in the room though since as soon as I touched the plug the fan would stop. It was pretty annoying, especially since it was way too hot without the airflow and all my stuff was out of power. The next morning after breakfast IMAG3710 (FILEminimizer)I moved to Mr Tho´s. It was a lazy day with lots of reading, bit offline work on my blog, a very nice fruit shake and snack at Vai-Sai and dinner at the Crazy Gecko. IMAG3713 (FILEminimizer)The latter is a Swiss owned restaurant thus a bit more expensive. The food was really nice though. We coulnd´t lock the door from the inside in our bungalow which worried me a bit in the beginning, but eventually I drifted off to sleep. You could feel every single steel feather in this mattress. The bungalows here were a lot more expensive, but the beds less comfortable. Next day after breakfast Carole and I rented bicycles for 10000 Kip a day and drove in the direction of Don Khone. The bikes were pretty bad; Carole´s bike constantly dropped the chain. We crossed the bridge to the other island

and followed the signs to the waterfall. We must have missed one since we ended up at Bo Hu Beach. We had a look around and drank a coconut.

We also checked out the little waterfall close bye. We drove back to the missed turn and finally made it to the Don Khone Somphamit Waterfalls Park. They charge 35000 Kip entry fee. The Lei Phi waterfalls are very beautiful, not very high but broad. At the bottom of the waterfall we went for a short swim then we chilled in hammocks they had put up in sort of bungalows there.

We met Claudia and Jodok there as well – the Swiss couple from the zip-lining. Later we got back on our bikes and rode the path in the middle of the island until we reached the south tip. From there you can see Cambodia and theoretically also the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.

We enjoyed a fruit shake and cycled back. We wanted to take another route, but got to a broken bridge which was impossible to pass, so we had to go back the same way we came from. When we reached the bridge that connects Don Det and Don Khone we saw a nice sunset.

We returned the bikes and had dinner at the Smiling Bar. The food was ok, the service pretty bad. We booked a kayak tour for Sunday and went to bed. The next morning I went to Vai-Sai for breakfast with a book and my diary. IMAG3728 (FILEminimizer)I had realized that I didn´t bring enough cash for the next 4 days. There is no ATM on Don Det, only in Nakasong. They do have ATM service in a few hostels though. They charge quite high fees plus it only works with credit card, not with the Maestro Card which (for my bank at least) also charges a high fee for cash withdrawal. Paying the boat to Nakasong and back to get to an ATM wouldn´t have been much cheaper though. When I had this sorted I got my laptop and went to the only bar on this island that had proper WiFi – the Wat bar – and worked on my blog. A few hours later I intended to walk to a beach at the south end of the island where Carole was supposed to be, but I couldn´t find her.IMAG3732 (FILEminimizer)

I had a nice homemade ice cream at the ShangrilaIMAG3741 (FILEminimizer) then went to The Garden of Nang, got a coconut and enjoyed the little beach there.IMAG3745 (FILEminimizer) When the sun was about to set, I walked back to Mr Tho´s having some nice glimpses of the sunset.

Next day we were doing a full day kayak trip we had booked at Mr Mo. It started with breakfast at Mr Mo. It was a huge group with 25 to 30 people and only 4 guides. The only introduction we got was “have you kayaked before, if not do say so then we put you in the boat with a guide”. I had a bit of experience and was very happy about that, since we didn´t go down the main stream but through several side arms with strong currents, loads of obstacles like rocks, trees and branches in the water and rapids. I was in the kayak with Carole, me being in the back doing the main steering part. It was a lot of fun, but when you have only been paddling on a lake before once or something like that (and there were many people with that little experience) it was rather tough to steer. Given that we had quite a few people capsizing. We also did once, because directly in front of us two French guys got stuck on a tree trunk and turned 90 degrees blocking the way. I could have easily avoided the tree trunk but not a full sized double kayak cross way less than one meter ahead of us. Due to the strong current both kayaks were flipped over. Got a few bruises and cuts until we managed to get into our kayak again, but we were fine and didn´t lose anything. Other people lost clothes, glasses, ripped off toe nails and such. After that bit it got even more demanding, but the guides gave a few more tips and took a bit better care so fewer people capsized. Carole and I didn´t capsize anymore for the rest of the day.

After about one hour of paddling we landed and had to walk almost one hour

to get to the Khonephapheng waterfalls. They are supposed to be the biggest waterfalls in SEA.

It was not the best way to walk in sandals. We walked back and got lunch then we paddled again for about one hour. From there we were transferred by truck to a motorboat near the Cambodian border and went out for dolphin watching. GOPR2792 (FILEminimizer)We saw 2 Irrawaddy Dolphins. They were too far away to take a pic with the GoPro though. Then we drove by bus over the mainland to Nakasang. If I would have known that before I would have taken my bank card and withdrawal cash there for a lot less money. But well, I already had my money. We boarded the kayaks again and paddled back to Don Det.

About 5:30 pm the tour was over. It was really nice and worth it, the only thing I didn´t like was the size of the group, the carelessness of the guides and missing instructions for non-experienced paddlers. We had dinner at the Green Buffalo and also enjoyed the happy hour there. We both were pretty tired and went to bed rather early. Next morning we went for breakfast to Paradise 2/ Restaurant Naly. Later I spent a few hours at the Wat Bar again to work on my blog. When I returned to Mr Tho´s Silver and Tony (the English couple I had met in Pakse) were sitting there talking to Carole and Dan. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the terrace chatting away and went to Mama Piang for dinner together. The food was ok. Carole was leaving the next day. So after my breakfast at Miss Sai, I packed my stuff, said goodbye and walked to Mama Mon´s were I had reserved and already paid for one of the bungalows. When I arrived they didn´t know anything about the reservation and all the bungalows were full. Great! Took me quite a while to at least getting my money back. This place definitely sucks! So I walked on looking for a place to stay and ended up at Mr Nois where I got a bungalow with working sockets for the same price. I chilled in the hammock until the room was ready and I could check in. I went to the Wat bar again with my laptop. Later two older German guys were coming and invited me for some beers. Later I went tubing with Hendrik and Günther.

After I went back to my bungalow and had a shower to wash the Mekong water off. I met Hendrik for dinner at Mama Thanon. Then I got my stuff organized and went to bed. My neighbors – a French couple- had the feeling they would be alone in the world and were super loud just in front of my door until very late. The next day it was time to leave the island and get on with my travels. I got the ferry back to Nakasang and took the bus to Kratie. We were transported to the boarder to Cambodia in 5 minivans, put our luggage in a big bus and walk over the border. IMAG3778 (FILEminimizer)Goodbye Laos!!!

When I arrived in Laos I first didn´t like it at all since I didn´t like the first two destinations. Coming from Myanmar the people here where super unfriendly. But after Vientiane and Vang Vieng I started really liking it. People got friendlier and the places I visited got nicer. I definitely had some very nice experiences in Laos. Khop Chai!

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