One, Two, Three...... ok we take your word for it.
15.06.2012 - 18.06.2012 28 °C
The island of Don Det was our intended destination amongst the other 3999 islands that sit in this part of the Mekong river. The journey from Thakhek was on a sleeper bus but what welcomed us at the bus station at 11pm was more of a freight bus than a passenger bus. It seemed like there were a few tonnes of goods being transported where humans should have been. The back of the bus was filled with a jumble of boxes and the aisle was completely full with more boxes and everyone’s bags. On the roof of the bus was a scooter, some whitegoods and more unidentifiable boxes.
Somehow we slept in between stops whereby the bus lights would come on and a bunch of the goods would be unloaded, many times requiring us to pass down a box or two from the back. James and Ruben left the bus a couple of hours before the end of the journey as they were heading somewhere else. At around 5am Tanya, Stevie, Paul, Niels and I were woken up as we pulled into Pakse. There was transport waiting at the bus station that was going over to the islands, but it left at 7am, so we packed our bags on it and then waited around. The journey to the Islands was going to be 3 hours so we expected a proper bus. Nope, just a big truck like tuk tuk for 3 hours!
It held around 20 people and we were at capacity when we left the bus station. Two and a half hours passed without any problems but then we heard a distinct metal on metal clash and it ground to a halt. We all got out to stretch our legs as the front seats were removed and the driver got to work trying to fix the problem. As we were waiting, we got out a ball and threw it around with one of the kids and entertained a younger one with a few games. We ended up waiting for an hour before another tuk tuk bus passed. We were told to hop on this one, but the problem was it was also at capacity itself. Never fear, this is Asia, nothing is ever at capacity! We ended up having 10 of us hanging from the back and everyone else squeezed inside.
We got to the end of the road and then hopped into a longboat for a quick ride over to Don Det. There were lots of islands around which obviously give the place its Western name of 4000 islands. We found a guesthouse right where the boat dropped us and after a quick shower we headed out for some food and some wifi. Afterwards we rented some bikes from our guesthouse to go for a ride over to one of the other islands to try and see some of the freshwater dolphins that are in the area. These bikes hardly had any brakes and wouldn’t have seen a drop of oil in their lives, but luckily the track was flat. Within a few minutes cycling through the town we bumped into Chris, Valentina, Claude, Freddie and Corinne from Konglor cave. They had been for the bike ride already and said that it was a fair distance away. We agreed to meet up for some drinks later and continued on. 2 minutes later Niels had a flat tyre! It was the motorbike ride all over again.
We decided to stop at the bridge between the two islands and meet Niels there while he went back to change bikes. We had a cheeky beverage and continued on again when he was back. Down at the end of the road we looked but didn’t see any of the river dolphins playing around in the water, there is only a group of 20 of them, so not surprising I guess. We headed back and got to the bridge again and decided to get some food there. It meant that we would be riding back to town in the dark, but we figured that would bring back some more fond memories from our motorbike loop. All that we had for a light was our mobile phones and we ended up back in town without any mishaps.
We met the others and ended up having a really drunken night until being kicked out of the bar after closing time. It turned out to be a great night with lots of laughs over a fair few BeerLaos
The boxing kangaroos
The next day it lashed down rain all day, which was lucky as none of us had the energy to do anything anyway. Instead we recovered from the big night with greasy food and movies paying at one of the pubs. We had an afternoon sleep before staying up late to support Holland for Niels in the 1.45am kickoff in the last group game of Euro 2012. It started well but then went downhill from there.
These kids all know how to use an iphone
We got an early morning boat the following day to take us all to the Cambodian border.
Daniel – To be honest, there isn’t much to do in the 4000 islands. But if you are crossing to Cambodia by land, it makes a good enough stop off point for a day or two to break up the journey. Thankfully we were here with a good crew to make it memorable!
Tanya – Our little bike ride a great start to our enjoyment on the island, shame about the rain on the last day, but glad it held off till now.