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Day 17: Don Khone and The Four Thousand Islands

Just Sit Back and Relax

Don Khone is the much more relaxed neighbour to Don Det. It’s easy just to sit here, watching the Mekong and be slowly caressed by the gently blowing breeze. It’s so laidback that even the waiters don’t bother you if you sit here for hours with just one drink. Not that they bother you on Don Det, but it’s just the general atmosphere here feels a lot more relaxed.

I started the day with some rather superb French toast (using baguettes, rather than a slice of bread). Then I made my sweaty way to Don Khone by walking the 5km there. I had meant to set off earlier so it wouldn’t be so hot, but I was a little tired after the night before. The guesthouse owners hosted a birthday party for one of their children that lasted until past midnight. Very loud and out of tune karaoke singing until late is rather off-putting for sleep when you can hear it all! Even the children were still singing songs that late! Surprising, but seems like they had a good time.

After just peacefully relaxing by the Mekong, I decided to set off by foot to find some waterfalls that a restaurateur in Pakse had advised me of (he even drew me a map, but none too detailed). It was a lovely stroll through the villages nearby to the waterfalls. Just watching the daily life of villagers was peaceful. I guess, because they themselves are peaceful. So many things I saw today that I’ve been seeing throughout my trip that I think I’ve taken for granted.

Like seeing the green vegetable patches that most people seem to have. There’s always chickens (baby ones too), at least one pig per yard sometimes buffalo and sometimes cows that just lazily wander about. I always wonder how people know whose chicken is whose.

Often there is smoke from people making charcoal for cooking. It really feels like an organic life. So it’s funny to see a sign for an organic farm when you walk around and the lifestyle seems very natural and organic! Aside from the incredible amount of dust, that is kicked up by passing motorbikes.

Then there are times during the day that families just gather together. There is a strong sense of family and community that you can feel and see when you walk into a village. The best act of recycling that I saw was 2 children with plastic bags and sticks remodeling into kites. They were happy running about trying to get the air underneath the bags. Very impressive and looked like fun!

After the villages, I continued on the path and found the Pa Soi waterfalls. Like Li Phi they have multiple cascades and parts that seem to snake around rocks. They were very interesting and pleasant to see. Being able to walk around the natural path and being free to wander about the area is very nice. It’s not too busy so you do get to have some time alone with the falls as you walk around. There was even a local man walking about the falls searching for fish I think as there were some large fish traps at the bottom of the falls. There were some bungalows set up, but not quite ready for operation. It would be a lovely spot to stay!

Coming back I walked into a small museum next to Sala Don Khone that documents the old French railway that ran through Don Khone. Quite interesting, had some good photos and actual pieces of the railway on display. Then – another stunning sunset….what a great day! Tomorrow will be an interesting travel day all the way back to Vientiane on a sleeping bus (mattresses instead of seats)! Looking forward to the experience!
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Posted by Teamworkz 04:10 Archived in Laos Tagged islands laos thousand don four southern khone champasak Comments (0)

Day 16: Don Det and The Four Thousand Islands

Don Det, Waterfalls and Dolphins

After an enjoyable hour long boat trip to Don Det, I arrived and was quietly shocked to find the place similar to Vang Vieng. It was a tourist haven with guesthouse and tourist services lined up side by side on the main strip.

So I quickly rented a bike and got out. The countryside was similar to Don Khong with empty rice fields creating a dry roadside scene. After half an hour of riding in the baking sun on a frequently rocky road, I arrived at the bridge to Don Khone. Don Khone was a much greener island with a lot more tracks to cycle down – however sometimes very rocky and more suited to walking or a proper mountain bike.

It was a fun experience to just cycle wherever the road led. There weren’t too many other cyclists or traffic on the roads, you could go for stretches without seeing anyone. However, turning up at the main port or Li Phi waterfalls there were quite a few others but we all seem to space our timing out that we never have to fight for space on the tiny roads.

Taking the boat trip to see the Irrawaddy dolphins was the highlight of the day. The Li Phi waterfalls were very pretty and impressive in its expanse as well as the strength of the water gushing over the rocks.

The boat trip down the Mekong was very scenic and being in a long-tail boat which just sits above the water made it feel like you were just flying across the surface.

Pleasantly we arrived at a large rock on the middle of the river that would be our viewing point. We stood on the rock and gazed around the river. Our driver was very good and spotted them almost immediately and stood pointing in the directions that he saw the dolphins. It took us a while to spot them, but then we got better and he didn’t need to point them out for us. Although they were specks and largish specks in the distance, it was marvelous seeing them pop up and sometimes even playing, a few times they’d splash about and we’d all be laughing with them at their enjoyment. I felt like I could have stayed there all day just watching the water for a fin or tail movement. Except, whenever a long tail boat passed through the area the dolphins were in, it was very sad that they left their engines on at full blast. It’d be nice if they either took a different route or if they killed their engines or slowed right down. Hurtling through this peaceful zone was so disruptive for us, I can’t imagine the impact on the dolphins. The engine sounds must be awful underwater!

Then a quick cycle back to Don Det to make it for the spectacular sunset. The sun blazed an orange hue and as time passed it turned deep pink and spread across the clouds and reflecting beautifully on the river. It was a wonderful end to a great day of cycling, wonderful waterfalls and being fortunate enough to see the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins!
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Posted by Teamworkz 04:05 Archived in Laos Tagged waterfalls islands laos thousand don four khon champasak liphii Comments (0)

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