© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated Don Det Laos

Laos – Don Det – 12th/13th February

The journey from Kratie to the border crossing was very smooth indeed. We chose the option of a mini-van ticket for $14 each, this picked us up at 8am along with a few other passengers and continued onto Stung Treng for an hour and a half where we were picking up the bigger bus to the border. We only had one hiccup in the form of a flat tyre which occurred due to a big wooden stake going right through it! This delayed us by 20 minutes or so but to our surprise and relief the bus was waiting for us on the highway and so on we hopped and off to the border we went.

It took a further 45 minutes to get to the border crossing at Trabaeng Kriel and around an hour to get through an leave on the other side. The main problem we encountered was the request for extra dollars on exit and entry sides, they say its for the admin, some say its for the stamp so we had an extra 4$ each to pay on top of our visa fee. The visa fee is another thing to mention here, we previously thought we needed to get our visas issued in Cambodia as had read that there were no crossings from Cambodia to Laos where you can get a visa on arrival. Whilst in Phnom Penh we spent $45 each on a Loas visa, however this border does now issue visas on arrival and we could have saved around $8 each, it’s not too much in the whole scale of things but a little premature on our part all the same.

So after a few bribes we sat on the bus for around half an hour before setting off to Ban Nakasang where we picked up a boat over to Don Det Island part of the 4000 Islands. All transfers and boat trips were included in the bus ticket from Kratie, even though they don’t write anything on the ticket it’s like an unspoken deal, money just goes from one driver to the next with the last person being the boat driver. It only took 20 minutes if that to get to Don Det and then we were in Laos at the 4000 Islands. We walked down the sunrise side to start with as we’d read that it is a good option in the Lonely Planet but already bungalows were getting busy and the one’s we liked the best we already full. We opted for a cheap 30,000 kip bungalow which was pretty basic, wood, a window, a mosquito net and a very hard bed, the river below had seen better days too, so we decided we’d do one night here and later on go on a search for somewhere more comfortable and a little more of what we had in mind. This didn’t take very long as we found a lovely group of turquoise painted bungalows next door to Mr B’s sunset bungalow resort. They were full that night so we endeavored to come back the next morning and see what we could get.

So with that in our minds we went for some cake at the Australian Bakery on the sunrise side and then walked around the perimeter of the Island taking in the sunset as we did. It’s not that big an Island and it’s very easily navigated by bikes, the paths are dry and sandy and you get good views along the way. We made it back to our guesthouse and proceeded to head out for dinner choosing the Mama Tanon Cafe for a relatively well priced meal.

The next day we went back over to our choice of accommodation and as we got there two girls were checking out of a bungalow looking right over the Mekong river, this would be perfect. We managed to reserve the room, went back to collect our bags and then moved into the new shack. This was much better, with two hammocks, the bungalow itself was detached with a private balcony, the bed was much more comfortable and the mosquito net less scanty. We decided we’d stay an extra 2 nights on Don Det.

We rented a bike for the day from the guesthouse at 8000kip for a days rental, we set off for Don Khon and were surprised by the 20,000 kip fee to cross over the bridge from one Island to the other. A tourist fee…the locals only have to pay 5,000 kip each. We cycled the route most traveled by tourists in the area and made our way to the Li Phi waterfalls having to pay a further parking fee for the bikes, the ticket to the Island does cover the cost of getting into the waterfall though. The falls are impressive even during the dry season however you cannot get that close to them, for safety reasons, but it would be nice to feel some watery fury. We stopped for some lunch, a rest from the sun and had ordered some fresh spring rolls with sticky rice as we were rather low on money. They tasted really good and we were both equally impressed.

After collecting the bikes from the makeshift car park we headed towards the beach. You can head towards an area where you can get a boat to go dolphin spotting or as we decided, ride to the end of the island and see what was there. A great view across of the Mekong greeted us. We rode back to Don Det and headed into the river for a cooling dip, swimming across to a sandbank island and then watch the sunset from our little bungalow. Evening meal was Indian cuisine at a cheap restaurant on the high street not far from the landing beach of the boats, make sure you are there before 6.30pm as it gets very busy and waiting times can be as long as 1.5hrs! The food was cheapish and fairly good value, portion sizes are modest with a good selection of naan breads.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

Related posts that may be of interest to you:

  1. New Zealand – Cape Reinga – 12th/13th November We left fairly early and started on our drive to to top of North Island. We had to make a few stops along the way,...
  2. Laos – Don Det – chill out day! – 14th February We stayed in a lovely, relaxing bungalow for more reasons that simply having somewhere nice to stay, it also meant we could take some time...
  3. Laos – Phu Hin Bun NPA Trekking – 17th February We were picked up at 8.30am or so from our guesthouse and much to our delight there were an extra 4 people booked on the...
  4. Laos – Phu Hin Bun NPA Trekking – 18th February We woke up early to the sound of eager cockerels the first going off at around 4.30am. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep with a...

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>