Why was it so nice? For starters, when our taxi boat first pulled up on the shores of Don Det and we watched our packs being unloaded, we prepared to be accosted, as we often are upon arriving in a new place as a tourist, but as we stepped into the water with our trusty flip flops and onto shore there was no, "Hello!", "Taxi?", "Where are you going?", "I make good price for you!" . . . Instead, there was just quiet - island - silence. Even the main strip was quiet . . . No cars. No hawkers. No hum and buzz of city life to be found. And as we smiled to each other, we instantly knew that we'd be staying a bit longer than initially planned. And that's just what happened.
Island life on Don Det offers a friendly, laid-back, meet-everyone-in-a-day backpacker vibe with all the fun water activities you'd hope for in a small island town. This combination along with the cheap cost of Laos travel, makes it very easy to watch days slowly slip by.
Along with the typical activities of island life (reading in hammocks, lounging at cafes on the water, etc), we also met loads of interesting fellow travelers, took a sunset boat ride, went out to a secluded, sunny beach for a BBQ, which turned out to be pretty hilarious (see video) and enjoyed cooling off with swims in the Mekong. Our bungalow was on the "main drag" with a porch and two hammocks looking out over the water. During our stay on the island some powerful tropical storms gave us all on Don Det some screams, thrills, and power outages.
On our third day there we signed up for a full-day kayaking trip around the islands. It was highly recommended and we were not disappointed. We explored the surrounding area with our local guide and fun couple from the UK, Tom and Aneliese. The "rapids" weren't much more than a few ripples (even though Tom and Analiese managed to topple over, hee hee), but the local waterfalls were impressive and we did see some Irrawaddy dolphins. It was a great day being out on the water, kayaking, swimming, and starting water fights every 20 minutes.
In total, we spent five full days on Don Det and could have easily stayed longer - as many of our new friends were also finding themselves sucked into the Don Det vortex. If we are ever back in the area, we'll be sure to plan some extra time for this special place.
Ahhhhh Don Det. What a fun place to relax and have a great time! It was exactly what we needed and happily turned out to be one of our favorite places in South East Asia.