River Island...Not the Shop!

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Dec 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Sala Done Khone

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, December 11, 2010

Well the bus ride to Si Phan Don certainly lived up to my expectations...what few I had. We were basically rammed into a tuk tuk that had some wooden boards down the middle and forced to sit between about 30 or so local people as literally the only white people anywhere near the bus. And you know, although we could have taken the swanky tourist bus I feel it was a lot more enjoyable and interesting to see how the locals do these journeys. Anywho, upon arriving in the small hub town we chartered a little boat and set off out into the tangled web of islands that make this river paradise up. It's a really odd place as you feel like you are in the middle of some tropical islands, but in fact you are just floating down a river. We eventually touched down on Don Khon, the smaller and less touristy of the islands.

After finding an incredibly expensive (well comparatively) hotel to treat ourselves after the shite last few days, we walked about the tiny village on the island and discovered it was the weekend of the boat racing festival. If you have ever been to a regatta in England where all the yobs turn up and have drinking contests, you will be somewhat amazed by the Laos version of events. It was all very innocent really, with highlights including throwing darts at balloons and the local Karaoke club. Very entertaining to watch and I dare say we sank a few beers to join in the celebrations.

To fill our days in Si Phan Don, we mainly just relaxed in the ambience of the river, sunsets and peacefulness of the whole place. One day we decided to hire bikes and explore the island a bit more which turned out to be a fun if not rather painful experience as the terrain is akin to volcanic rock field and the bikes don't come with suspension as standard! Sights on the island include an old train that was installed by the crafty French, a random beach and then out of nowhere, an amazing collection of waterfalls. It really was the weirdest thing to see waterfalls on a small island in the middle of the Mekong. How did they get there? Why on a small island? And what was weirder still was that they were fairly spectacular with falls all over the shop of various size and shape. Well worth the trip down here alone in my humble opinion.

And really that was all we did. As I said, this is definitely a place to come with a few books where you sit by the rivers edge, enjoy a bottle of local beer and take in the sunsets. Truly a lovely place to be.
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