There is a place in southern Laos called the 4000 islands. Maybe you know that Laos isn’t connected to the sea, but some parts of the Mekong river are huge and there are big islands, like Don Det and Don Khon. On our way to the small village where we can cross the river to Don Khon our mini bus is really overcrowded. It’s going to become an interesting ride. The road isn’t in good condition and after stopping at a market some of the locals we share the place with are buying fried meat and eating roasted beetles. Seven tries one of the beetles and likes it. After spending the night in the bus coming from Kong Lor cave we are quite tired and happy that it’s just a 2.5 hours ride.
Most of the backpackers prefer to stay on Don Det. And that’s why just Seven and me are left on the boat that brings people to the other islands after stopping there. Guesthouses are almost all along the riverside and we get a cheap bungalow with nice view on Mekong and the beautiful sunsets every evening. In off season there are just a few tourists and travelers. We rent two bicycles to explore the island and find a quite beach for swimming and spending the hot daytime the next day. It’s a nice quite place and only a few boats are passing by from time to time. Around all 15 minutes we need to go into the water to cool down our bodies. Along Don Khons southern tip is a protected area and the habitat of the Irrawaddy dolphins. Unfortunately what protection means in our understanding seems not to be the same here. Boats with noisy engines following the rare animals are used to bring people into watching distance and so we quit our plan to join one of these tours. But one day later we get one more chance. As Marita and Patrick tell us the evening we met again, smaller boats are starting from the beach where we have been for swimming. They use another more quite kind of engine and change to rowing the boat after arriving at the restricted area. You can hear the dolphins coming up to the surface and spraying out water through their breathing hole. We are lucky to see them several times. Amazing! Spending the evening on the balcony of our bungalow we get in contact with our “neighbour”, a Swiss guy living in Laos almost 25 years. The things he tells about the country and especially the changes within the last 5 years are sadly corresponding with the impression we sometimes had concerning different things. At the end we feel really pensive.
Another neighbor of us is a french guy and travelling for 3 years now with his bicycle through the world. A really interesting person to talk to. If you are interested in his trips, have a look at http://wheelbeback.com/.
After a tour around Don Det and visiting another waterfall, we take our last day to go on working on some projects we started while our journey. Traveling is changing and some ideas are coming up…. let’s see if it’s more than “just” ideas….