Stray Laos: Don Det And 3999 Islands
Just shy of the Cambodian border, lies Si Phan Don, idyllic islands where a bamboo bungalow goes for a buck and the stunning sunsets are free. Cycle around, see the dolphins, savour the atmosphere - a visit to Don Khong, Don Dhet and Don Khon is the highlight for many - don't miss them!
At last our journey with Stray Asia has come to the end. The last stop on the itinerary was Don Det - one of the 4000 islands in the Mekong delta on the border between Laos and Cambodia. After checking out Wat Phou, we drove back up to Pakse before heading south - once again Lao roads or, rather, the lack of the bridge, doubled the hour and a half trip otherwise to three hours.
My first impressions of Don Det were not that great. The main area around the north eastern beach/boat landing seemed to be overpriced (a fruit shake for over a dollar???), over-westernized and lacking any kind of local fair. Still, over the couple of days I spent there, it grew on me. The main area was same same, but once I took a walk along the eastern side of the island to the old boat landing, I saw much more local flavor along the way.
The next day we rented some bicycles, made our way to Don Khon, paid the 20,000 kip/$2.5 tourist fee upon crossing the bridge, and headed it all the way down south to the Irrawaddy dolphin spotting area. With the amount of spotting boats that also take people to the larger waterfall between two other islands, I could not see how any of the dolphins would show up here but maybe someone would get lucky. We turned around and after biking through some remote trails, found our way (thanks, CityMaps2Go!) to Somphamit waterfalls. While they are not the biggest waterfalls in the area, they still looked pretty awesome, even though we have seen plenty of waterfalls in the last few days.
After spending quite a bit of time by the waterfall, looking for the beach downstream of it, and getting some food, we headed back over to Don Det. It was our last night in Laos and we were leaving a few of our Stray mates behind, so we headed out to enjoy some delicious hog roast and a few buckets before I called it a night.