Don Det, 4000 Islands, Laos

4000 islands in Laos? Surely it’s land-locked right?

It is, but just over the Cambodian border in the far south sits Don Kong, Don Det and adjoining Don Kon, and 3997 other islands in the widest part of the Mekong. So technically there’s no sea, just river, but it’s all the same same.

Approx 2 hours walk in size, someone might just have invented the perfect island. No post office, no roads, no ATMs. Just hammocks, sunsets, bicycles & bungalow shacks. And wifi. I have two new playmates at the start of the week Albertine (French) and Vera (Germany) and then the originals arrive just before my birthday, Claire and Lindsay (off of Cambodia).

I’d blog about all 14 nights I’ve spent here, including a birthday and xmas, but I only really need to blog about one really for you to get the idea. All are a variation on this theme.

Dawn) Wake up early to the screeching cockerel calls, dogs barking and/or chickens clucking. It’s a regular animal farm around here. There are water buffalo everywhere too, but to be fair to them I’m not even sure what noise they make. Moo? You can’t get mad at the circus of noise as early morning is THE best time of day. I’d say it’s for the light, the serenity, but no, I mean for the wifi – early bird catches the decent Skype connection.

Morning) Hire pink bicycles for 10,000 kip, from the shop that sells everything next door, pick up some of their veggie samosas too for the ride.  Head to neighboring Don Kon island which is adjoined with old French bridge, with a man who sits like a friendly troll underneath collecting 20,000 Kip for your passage across. The two islands have miles of cycle tracks. It’s like a tropical centre parks treasure trail, with surprisingly stunning waterfalls, beaches, and dolphin look-out-points as prizes.

Midday) Since it’s too hot to do anything we sit in a hammock & read our books. However we can only really manage an hour or two of the horrific ‘They Killed My Father (Cambodian account of the Khmer Rouge) and ‘The Girl in the Picture’ (Vietnam account of the Agent Orange bombings.) Regular  light reading then! We alternate book club with downloads of Gossip Girl/Spooks just so that it doesn’t all get too bleak.

Lunch) Walk 20 mins along the dirt track to the organic veggie farm. Play French bowls and gorge on homegrown salads, balsamic vinegar, apple crumble, custard and other yummy ingredients.

Late afternoon) Now this is more often than not replaced with ‘go for a sundown beer by the river bars on sunset side of the island.’ However when I was being good I took my ass on a run. There are miles of hay fields that remind me of riding Daisy May up Apy Lane in late summer when it stays light till 9pm. Apart from the pain/hyperventilating/trying to train myself to run through a stitch, the paths at sunset are just gorgeous.

Evening) Pop to Shy’s bar bully him into our choice in movies for his 8pm nightly screening, lay on the bean bags and chill watching them. Pop to Alex’s bar to hustle at pool (Lindsey and I saw off three sets of boys) and eat their to die for pizza/red bean curry. Happy bar for Manny’s nice cookies… the clue is in the name.

Add to this a lovely a Xmas Eve dinner with 30 friends, THE BEST birthday hour of my life with a Lao masseuse, and cycling the full length of Sunrise side of the island singing Away in a Manger/Little Donkey at the top of our voices with Santa hats in the blazing sun.

All this and you can hopefully see why it wins the award for the longest I’ve stayed anywhere in 9 months.

Been there Don Det.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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