A Non-Christmas-y but relaxing start to Laos
Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
38Trip End Jun 12, 2009
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Starting off in the 4000 islands... Don Det being the island of choice.
We had been told that one of the largest waterfalls in Asia could be found on a day trip from Don Det. We asked around the different tour companies on the island, and after a reluctance from the companies to haggle with us we decided to attempt the trip on our own as almost a challenge to beat the best tour price we had found. There was not much haggling at all on the island actually.... we decided it was due to island price fixing.
Anyways ... the start of our waterfall challenge began on Don Dets beach, where many of the boats drop off passengers or locals. "Our" being Me, Zoe and Mike who we had met crossing the border from Cambodia. We attempted to hitch a ride on a couple of boats but with not much success, then a boat arrived carrying a local on a moped. We waited for the passenger to leave the said boat (if you can call it a boat, basically some planks of wood with a motor attached) and set about haggling with the skipper. He was not having any of it and after 5 Min's of haggling he shouted out to one of the tour companies on the beach who attempted to make a sale on the waterfall tour. We stood our ground and hung around on the beach some more, around 30 Min's later and a couple more failed attempts at hitching a ride the same guy returned and we hassled him some more... this time he gave in and we agreed a reasonable price. On the mainland the next task was to find someone willing to drive us to the waterfall at a good price, wait for us to have a gander and take us back to the boats. As soon as we set foot on the mainland, and as expected we were approached by a driver but the price he was offering would have resulted in a failure of the challenge, so after a failed haggling attempt we walked on (walking on being the best haggling method, as you know they will soon be following you with a better price). 5 minutes on he caught up with us and offered a slightly better price, we did not accept and decided between us that if we did not get the price we wanted w we would walk 45 minutes to the main road and attempt to hitch hike. The same guy caught up with us again (this happened four times) and we decided on a price we were happy with, jumped in the back of the truck and made it to the waterfall :) Challenge complete.
The waterfall was a stunning sight and it was good to see the Mekong looking powerful as opposed to the lazy, placid Mekong we were used to. It is called Kone Phapheng Falls and is said to be one of the largest waterfalls in Asia based on volume. It only has a total height of 69 Feet but it stretches out for over 6 miles of the rivers length in segments. On average this powerful waterfall sheds 3 million gallons of water a second, but the highest recorded output was 13 million gallons a second. Another little fact for you... these falls are one of the main reasons that you can not navigate from Laos into China via the Mekong.
We jumped back into the truck of our awaiting driver and picked up a decent price for a boat back to Don Det :)
After another relaxing afternoon on the island we booked up a bus and jumped on heading for Pakse (after an extremely overloaded boat from the island!). That is where i am writing this from now. Not much in this town but it is more of a travel hub for the rest of Laos. We had planned to meet Tom Mills here and travel Laos together as well as northern Thailand, but plans change and we are just going to meet him for a week in the north of Laos.
So what to do from here? Well its not feeling very Christmasy at all and i know it is only 5 sleeps away!!! I have a feeling this year Christmas is just going to be another day ..... so we have decided to complete a four day motorbike trip...Me, Zoe and Mike. We are going to set off tomorrow, so tonight we will take a look at a map and plan out a route. We are hoping to find home stay accommodation in some remote villages but that will have to wait until we arrive at each location.
We are only planning to be on the road for four days so we will be arriving back in Pakse on Christmas Eve and then jumping on a bus heading north. So i might not make it back onto the PC before Christmas...sooooo MERRY Christmas every one, enjoy your roast dinners and all the other lovely food I'm sure you will be eating over the next few days.
The next date to look out for is NYE i guess and we plan to be in Vang Vieng for that (tubing down a river from bar to bar) with Tom Mills but we will see.
Have a good one, merry Christmas and lots of love
Tom x x x
......... Annnnnnnnnd we have just got back from the motorbike trip...I'm knackered and dirty and waiting to get on a bus to go up north.. going to write about the trip in another blog on another day.... just wanted to send this one out.
Have a good Christmas all.
P.s Noticed the photos lately have been grainy on travel pod....so if you wanna see the descent version you can on the ol flickr page mentioned in previous blogs.
p.p.s may be having a very Ozzy Christmas this year as i bumped into an Ozzy guy living in Laos...him and a load of other Ozzy peeps are playing cricket, football and drinking beer this crimbo....so we may be joining them :)