Hamockology on the 4000 Islands
Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
107Trip End Aug 19, 2011
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On the second day our first priority was to get another bungalow on the river, sunset side. We found one easily, two actually as they were only 30,000 kip. It was very basic consisting of a bed a light and a fan and nothing more, the toilet was a squat out house. The killer was the crappy hammocks and we decided almost immediately that we would be moving on the following day. Once we settled in, and spent enough time lazing in the hammocks we set out on foot to explore Don Det. It was nice that as you walk from the main village the guest houses and restaurants die out and it looks a bit more authentic. Even still I felt that the locals on this island had already seen far too many farrangs to care, so for the most part they were not all that friendly. We hung out in some hammocks sipping a Lao coffee for a while and watching the traffic go back and forth to Don Khon before heading onward to check out the King Kong place that the Belgium recommended. The place was run by an English guy who came here six years ago and just never left. There are quite a few farrang on the island who passed through and stopped dead, or returned soon after to settle. They have taken local brides and traded their western life for a much more chilled existence. Sure enough the food in the place was amazing and the guy was into poker. I was delighted to make a plan to come back and play later in the evening. On the way back we completed a loop of the islands coastline which took us through a totally non touristy looking village which was nice
The following days rolled by quickly. Not a lot was done apart from lounging in the hammock watching the fishing longtails slowly glug by in the day and watching thunderstorms brewing on the horizon by night. We did rent bikes one day and took off to explore the adjacent Don Kong Island. We checked out the old colonial locomotive, a Buddhist monastery and an especially cool waterfall. It was another mesmerizing spot where we could have chilled for hours. I was itching to go down in a kayak or a white water raft; it would be crazy fun although probably stupidly dangerous. After burning 30 minutes there we headed on following a sign to a beach. We found ourselves in a maze of bushes but a group of foreigners told us to follow the dog (and horribly mangy dog) and he would take us there. Sure enough the dog did actually lead us thread us there. We had a bit of a dip in the water but didn’t venture too far from the bank since the rapids upstream made for some serious undercurrents. On the way back one of the thunderstorms caught up with us and we took refuge in a small restaurant. The cutest kids ever we having fun playing in the rain and it was amusing to watch. There was a Danish guy having a beer there, so we joined him to ride out the storm. This guy had previously spent 6 months living on the island and had now returned to set up some kind of volunteer English teaching there. I was initially excited about it but after chatting for an hour I was convinced that this hippy guy had very little by way of an actual plan and didn’t really know what he was getting himself into. My Laos language was better than his and nothing about him made me eager to give him my contact details. That evening we checked out Reggae Bar where the menu had a whole range of 'Happy’ items… from the standard happy shakes to happy birthday cakes, happy pizzas and even happy mashed potatoes
For the last few days on the islands we moved to Paradise Bungalows on the sunrise side. I had met some girls in Malaysia who said I had to go there, so I dragged Tim. It was much the same as all the other bungalows but the Laos family was very nice and friendly. There was an old Canadian couple there who seemed to be running the show; I could only hope that the money was going into the Laos families pockets. Anyway after another lazy day there we got off our asses and booked onto a kayaking trip. We joined with about 6 more farrangs and two guides and launched onto the river at about 9 in the morning. The first few hours we paddled to Don Khon and covered many of the places we had already seen on our bike trip. In the afternoon we pedaled down stream from Don Khon a couple of kilometers where the river was flat and we could see far. We spent a good 30 minutes scouring the horizon for a shot of the famous Irrawaddy dolphins (highly endangered freshwater dolphins, only about 100 left in the world). We had no such luck in spotting one so we stopped to have lunch on a rock in the middle of the river. The guide told us that the west bank was Cambodia while the east was Laos