Archive for the ‘4000 Islands’ Category

  • Don Det and Don Khone, the smaller islands


    Unexpected things are the most rewardable things that may happen while travelling and we didn’t expect Don Det to be so laid back and beautiful, so it was really pleasant to stay there for almost a week. The accommodation offer in Don Det consists in many similar wooden bungalows overlooking the river. They all look the same but there are little aspects that make big differences. We found our place in Vixai Guest House on the sunset side of the island, a family run Guest House in which the ambience was really peaceful and from where it felt very difficult to leave on the last day. The Vixai family were great hosts –always with a smile and ready to help- and it was real fun to interact with them, share a ride on their long-tail boat along the archipelago, play with their son Sitta and try to make bamboo instruments with Vixai. The room was pretty basic –mattress, mosquito net and no power or light, just candles-. The attached shared terrace/balcony outside the room worked out as a living room –with hammocks, table and chairs- and was less than 2 metres above the Mekong water, so you could almost wash your feet from there. The view was superb: water, islands, birds, vegetation and the wonderful sky with its blue colour and its amazing cloud shapes and colours.

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    Most of the time we just explored the island, walked among the rice paddies while the farmers where planting the rice, interacted with the locals in rain-calling ceremonies (so much fun!), played with the kids and mostly just chilled out. We also rented a bike and visited on a day trip Don Khone island, further south and linked to Don Det by an old bridge. We saw the beautiful Li Phi waterfalls, visited villages, tried to spot the Irrawady dolphins with no luck and refreshed in a couple of nice beaches formed in the river island. The journey was great but hard, since the bicycles were pretty bad and the paths were full of stones, plus the path was sometimes an adventure like when we had to cross a rudimentary bridge made out of a couple of wood planks and an old and rusty railway line from the french colonial times pushing our bikes and maintaining the equilibrium as good as we could. The many hours we spent riding around ended up with aching bums but admiring a great sunrise from the hammock in our room balcony with an ice coffee, the perfect way to finish the day.


  • Si Phan Don, the 4000 Islands


    Si Phan Don is a vast area just north of the Laos-Cambodia border, where the Mekong river opens out forming an intrincate network of channels, rocks, sandbars and islets 14 km wide. During the rainy season this section of the Mekong river fills out and covers up most of the islets. The largest of the permanent islands are inhabited all year round and offer fascinating glimpses of tranquil river village life: the fishermen in their long-tail boats, water buffaloes wading in the water, families planting the rice in the paddies, women washing the clothes or weaving textiles and children swiming in the river.


    Is the perfect place to just sit down and relax doing nothing, although there are also several things to do if you feel active: few interesting old temples, some rapids and waterfalls, where the Mekong suddenly drops in elevation at the Cambodian border, and try to spot a rare species of freshwater dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin.