Don Det (4,000 Islands) Laos: Don Det is an island that is part of the end of the Mekong river delta found near the border of Cambodia. It’s a great spot to finish your adventure and relax…. Or is it? Due to the bustling strong river delta, the water here is something that the blues musician Muddy Waters would be jealous of.
If you’ve been to the Gili islands in Indonesia like we’ve been I’d advice not to get your hopes up as the watercolor here can be compared to warm chocolate milk during a heat wave. However Don Det does provide the environment for kayaking adventures or to go tubing and even spot the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. Grab a bicycle and head on over to the other bigger island Don Khon and see the scenery there. I would even recommend to maybe book a hotel/guesthouse there as the facilities at Don Det are very minimal. We had planned on staying here a long week but I wouldn’t recommend this. Don Det is a miniature Vang Vieng, which means the locals aren’t always as pleased with the tourists. A big big big tip is to bring lots of cash when you head on over here. There are NO ATM’s and there are only a few untrustworthy places where you can get money but you also need to pay a high fee.
Must Eat 1
Jasmine: My oh My… this was like returning back to Agra India. The food here is authentic Indian and is due to its Indian owner that knows how to spice it up. The Chicken Tikka Masala is so good that you’ll end up swiping the bowl completely clean with your naan bread to enjoy each and last bite fully. The awkward this was that we ended up going here almost every night and created the cliché ‘walk into a place and shout I’ll have the usual’ scene. Go here and fill your tummy with goodness.
Must Eat 2
Ms. Ning: Having left Thailand I also thought to had left behind my love for papaya salad… well guess again. At this place you’ll find the best papaya salad and the people are really friendly here. There’s one waiter who also sells tickets across the street in his travel shop. We bought our ticket to Siem Reap Cambodia with him for $35 which included the bus and boat ride.
(Must) Sleep 1
Easy Go: This one is for the stony lovers. We walked about 30 minutes in the beating blistering heat to get to a hostel called The Last Resort all the way on the other side of the island because, it was described as tipi rooms and an into the wild feeling. Well, into the wild we certainly were! And also on the ground, dirty and with only 1 shower for 8 tipi huts. Being it as we were already so far we continued our walk further south and we ended up at this stoner ville called Easy Go. Although the decoration was really nice, like the colourful signs pointing in all directions, the huts were depressing. The main chill out area was also furnished really cozy and had a real backpacker vibe, but the rooms were so bare and basic that you almost might mistake them with a pig pen (also due to the fact that the pigs were literally walking under the bungalow you slept in and you could hear each oink as if he was cuddling next to you in bed underneath Easy Go’s plastic, thus impossible to wash, children’s bed cover). So one advice when you read in the Lonely Planet about The Last Resort’s Tipi Huts don’t walk all the way over there to be disappointed and then sleep at Easy Go as your only and last option, it’s not worth it unless you like the into the wild feeling and you’re sure it’s not going to be raining while you stay sleeping on the ground in the hut.
Must Sleep 2
Little Eden: This my friends is actually also a must dip. After having slept in a must not sleep hotel, this place was a warm reassurance that this island was enjoyable. Owned by a Belgium man, the hotel has two options to sleep in and both are comfortable, clean and luxurious. For $25 you can sleep in Don Det’s only really comfortable hotel and get full time access to their shining cool refreshing pool! Only two pools are found on the island and this is by far the cleanest and most relaxing pool there is. For those of you who only want to use the pool, you can for $5. Another big big plus point is that this hotel is located smack in the middle of the main street and extremely close to the harbor.
Bus & Boat ride: In order to get off the island and across the border you’ll experience a 08:00 am departure that will last until a 10:00 pm … oh my lord what a ride! It was $35 for a bus and boat to Siem Reap Cambodia. Big tip: watch out for the slick well sharpened and ironed shirt guy that will be waiting for you when entering the first bus: he will shout out “tickets” once you’ve arrived at the bus station near Don Det and will try to get you to pay 40$ and he’ll “arrange” your visa. Well, he gets a commission and don’t worry that you’ll be left behind, as you’re with a group even though he “arranges it”, everyone has to wait on each other. You pay extra with him so just get the papers he’s handing out and fill them in and keep them for yourself. Don’t let him do it or you’ll pay more well… it’s what you call more: we paid at the boarder 37$. Woohoo we saved 3$… Also Walk past the health inspection. This is not mandatory and it just takes up time. We noticed that going with a group was the best way to cross the boarder as a guy was stranded at the boarder with taxi hustlers asking ridiculous prices, since they knew you had no other options.
Must Find 1
Happy Drugs: Not that difficult to spot. In fact I’ve been truly shocked at the amount of drug dealing in this country. Since the moment we crossed the boarder into Laos we’ve constantly been offered all kinds of drugs. Not that it was something entirely new for us, as we’re from Amsterdam which also has it’s fair amount of drug dealing. But still, you wouldn’t be offered it this much and our coffee shops almost look primal compared to these Bob Marley colored shops with delicacies like happy cookies or happy smoke on their menu’s. The story goes that the restaurants will pay each month a certain amount of money to the police so their customers can enjoy their products without being bothered by an arrest. However, other stories also go around like that of a group of tourists that all got sent to jail because, one of them was smoking weed so they all were accomplices and each had to pay $500 to get out of jail: Yikes!
Must Find 2
Bump into the Same Peeps: Don’t be surprised to bump into some old acquaintances during your travel through this country especially the partying peeps. Recognise the group coming from Vang Vieng by the shirts they’re wearing and come across the same people you met during the Thakhek Motorbike loop and catch up on some missed stories and laughs.
Must Find 3
Mr. Piggelsworth: Aw isn’t he so cute?! Oinky-di-Oink-Oink! I just wanted to squeeze him to death and cuddle together in the mud. This definitely was our newest and most favorite friend during the trip. Found on the long road towards the Easy Go guesthouse, this little fatso loves to bath in the sun while relaxing in a mud pool. We stopped and gave him some leaves and then we petted him: aw I want a piggy too! We’ve decided that our cats Tony & Totoro wouldn’t mind this awesome new friend as an addition to the family. The only question is how are we going to keep him in Amsterdam?