We finally arrived on Don Det island at the end of the afternoon. Don Det is one of the 4000 islands that the south of Laos has to offer. I don’t know if there are literally 4000 islands but at this time of the year, when the Mekong river is lower, you do have a lot of small islands appearing in between the bigger ones. We chose Don Det due to the fact that it is a chill island with many backpacker accommodations.
First mission: find a guesthouse. Don Det structure is quite easy as there are mainly two roads, Sunrise street and Sunset street. As the naming goes, you get East or West side. We went with the later choice and picked up Sunset street. Many people on our boat had pre-booked online but we were not convinced by those options and knowing the place I knew it would be easy to negotiate, especially in this season. We ended up walking with Berit, a German girl that travelled with us from Siem Reap (we are now good friends 🙂 ). We all eventually opted for a guest-house that proposed private rooms with bathroom (including fan and hot shower, luxury!) by the river. After a quick negotiation that allowed me to try my Lao language skills we got 2 rooms, one for 60K and the other for 50K LAK (6 and 5 EUR). Yeah to us!
After enjoying the shower we decided to capture the last minutes of sunset and to celebrate my return to Laos with a fresh Beer Lao. Indeed I had lived in Laos for a year and it was my first time coming back since I left … 5 years ago. First surprise for Berit and Silviu: when you order a Beer Lao you get a 0.67L bottle!!
After some chill time, we went to the restaurant next door as I heard they had good Lao food. Let me spoil the article now: we spent most of our time on that island eating … and chilling!! Oh I had missed Lao food! For dinner we spoiled ourselves with the following: a yellow curry, yellow noodles, a laap (Lao specialty) and a papaya salad! It was … Soooo good!!!!
The next day we woke up with the rain! Our old friend had followed us once again! We went downstairs to have breakfast at our guesthouse restaurant and later decided to go for a quest: finding a good coffee! Well, we ended up trying a black Lao coffee and a cappuccino. The coffee came from the Boloven Plateau (a region in the South of Laos), but we were relatively disappointed by both…
We came back to our guest-house and worked for a bit while waiting for the rain to eventually stop. We then met with Berit and rented a bike for touring the 2 islands: Don Det island, where we stayed, and Don Khon island, in the South. The two islands are connected by a pretty bridge. We had a very nice ride, trying to avoid the mud puddles but getting dirty anyway. We reached the South of Don Khon and did a break by the river in order to enjoy the landscapes … very rocky there. We went back on Don Det through the Eastern path (Sunrise side if you follow) and really enjoyed passing by the villages. This is one of the cool things on this island: once out of the tourist part, you are directly in a typical Lao village.
We stopped by to watch some locals playing Sepak Takraw. This sport is played with a bamboo ball and is a mix of volley-ball (you have a net, 3 touch on each side allowed even though it can be by the same person) and football (no hands allowed). Pretty impressive! After a few minutes watching a guy tells us to come over and asks us if we want to play. Silviu is very tempted. We have to wait the end of the game and Silviu enters with a new team. Luckily the level is bit lower than the previous teams and Silviu gets used to it fast, even marking a few points for his team! Check the video below to see how good he was! Go Silviu … 🙂
Later we also saw some adults and kids playing petanque (boys only though). Both were really into the game, serious business here!
Silviu playing Sepak Takraw
We finally came back to the guest-house, buying some samoussas on the way to enjoy with a fresh beer. The sunset is beautiful tonight.
On our way down South we had previously spotted a little restaurant surrounded by a beautiful garden: all the ingredients used were organic from the garden! In the dark, with just one flashlight we decided to cycle back there for a lovely evening and… guess what … more food!!
Don’t blame us, we have no pictures from our last day on the island! Indeed the 3 of us decided to just chill, work and eat that day… take it easy, island style! So after breakfast, we bought our tickets to go to Vientiane the following day and just worked for a few hours. We later decided to go for lunch in a place recommended for its curries. It was a late lunch so people were not really ready to serve us and we had to wait quite some day. Whatever it was so good!!
We had some great plans for the afternoon but we ended with a full stomach past 4pm… it was time for a nap! Island style we told you! 🙂 While recovered for this feast we got ready for the next one starting by a BeerLao! We were lighter on the dinner not really by choice but the restaurants had run out of several options… in the end it was better for us!
The next day we had to be at the pier at 11am to head back to the mainland. As almost everyone is departing at the same time it gets quite crowded. Four full boat will do the cruise. On the other side we have to walked to the bus station where 2 buses are waiting to drive everyone towards Pakse. Of course there was not enough seats for everyone, especially that a few locals also hopped in on the way so the corridor gets quite crowded. The 2 hour trip ended being a 3 hour trip, with a break on the way plus several stops to drop off people.
In Pakse we sit with Berit in a restaurant as we have a few hours to wait before our night bus for Vientiane. The restaurant is pretty nice with a great customer service and we ended up having a good chatting time there. The daughter of the owner came to play with us: Berit got to play hangman and I got to play tic-tac-toe. It was finally time to head back to the ticket office where a super luxurious mini-van came to pick us up. We got dropped off around 8pm at a gas station with no more information. 45 minutes later our sleeping bus arrived. An approximative 12 hours pretty comfy ride later, we arrive in Vientiane!