Destination: 4,000 Islands - Don Det & Don Khon
Number of Days there: 5 (3 days Don Det, 2 days Don Khon)
One thing unexpected:
Times we took the: Boat: 3; Bus/Minivan: 2; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 0; Bike: 1
Estimated KM walked: 3-4 km
Where we stayed: Souksan - 50,000 kip/$6 on Don Det & Somphamith on Don Khon for 40,000 kip/$5
Favorite Restaurant: Mrs. Noi's on Don Det - beautiful sunset view, tasty lao lao with fresh orange juice & amazing banana fritters; Salaphae on Don Khon - yummy green curry lunches for 10,000 kip each ($1.20)!
Best of: Swinging the day away in a hammock just catching up on our reading.
Worst of: SUPER slow Internet (powered by car batteries)!
The hotel manager at Anouxa in Champasak hooked us up with a transfer to the 4,000 islands. It started with a ferry across the river with what can only be described as a couple of boards laid across two wooden fishing boats (which by the way were made of 5 boards each...it's amazing what a little bit of ingenuity will come up with). The "ferry" took us across the river where we picked up a van to Nakasang and then took a boat to our ultimate destination, Don Det. After tramping through all of the hotels on the sunset side we finally settled on the Souksan as it was the nicest and cleanest of the bunch (Mrs. Noi's was full but it is also to be recommended). We settled in and spent the next few days doing absolutely nothing but reading, swinging away in our hammocks and gearing up for the nightly sunsets which were stunning to say the least and always accompanied by lao lau and BeerLao!
After a few days of hammock swinging we decided to check out Don Khon so we woke up early and gathered up our backpacks (which seem to be growing heavier by the week) and started the one hour hike across the island to the bridge to the other island. At the entry to Don Khon we were met by what we referred to as the "bridge nazis," apparently you must pay a fee to enter the town which is also good for the waterfall. After working so hard to get across the island we felt we needed a break so we spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading in our riverside hammocks. On our second day we decided that it was time to do something touristy so we rented bicycles and after being stopped once again by the "bridge nazis," we biked out to the edge of the island to hire a boat to take us to see the Irrawaddy dolphins (90,000 kip). We were warned that it's difficult to see the dolphins from the Laos side of the river but when we arrived the boat man told us that we could go into Cambodia to see them. We thought this was a little bit strange but being a SEA nation, a little bit of corruption is really expected so after some debate we were off to Cambodia where we paid $1 for the privilege of watching the dolphins on Cambodian soil. We were lucky and saw several of them but there were too quick for pictures :-( I did however get a nice one of our fancy boat, complete with a bamboo mat for seats. Nice... After returning safely to Laos we continued on our bike journey to the Somphamit Waterfall. The next day we headed back north to Pakse and the Bolaven Plateau.