After we drove the loop, we hopped a bus 9 hours south to our last stop in Laos. There is a pretty worn tourist trail that starts in Luang Prabang, and ends here at the 4000 islands area of the Mekong River. This is right on the boarder of Cambodia, and many travelers hold up here while they get thier Cambodian visa squared away. Scotty and I headed down to this area just to chill and do nothing, which is about all there is to do there anyway.
There are a few larger Islands that are inhabited on the river. We decided to go to Don Det, the second largest island, and a spot that has been set up primarily for travelers. There are multiple hut style guest houses on the island, all very cheap, around $2-4 USD depending on negotiation and season. The islands accommodation is set up on both sides and are referred to as the sunrise or sunset side of the island.
We arrived in the morning after the bus ride, and took a van taxi an hour more south from the bus station to the river boat ferry that was taking us to the island. Once on Don Det we headed to the sunset side, and looked at about 10 places before finally settling on one place with wooden walls, and a fan and power outside of the hut on the porch.
Their really isn’t much to do on the islands. Our days where filled with book reading, swimming in the river, eating, taking short bike rides around the island, which is about 7K in perimeter, and generally being very lazy. In the morning, we would bathe in the river, and then usually get breakfast which consisted of eggs and fresh juice or a smoothy all for around $1.50 USD. After that we might head out for a swim or rent a tube and float on the river. There was a small sand island directly across from our bungalow and we would swim the 300 meters to it each day. We nicknamed it shelter island.
We also rented push bikes for $1 a day to get around the island, and to head over to the sunrise side for internet, or go shopping, as that is the more “developed” side of the island. It was about a 3 min bike ride.
We took a few walks around the island, and the southern end was less populated and covered with bone dry rice patty fields.
Usually for dinner, we would head to our favorite place. The owner really pinned his business. He was a bit cheaper than anywhere else, played fun music but didn’t blare it, and had cold beer. We probably ate 90% of our meals here, and by the end of our 4 day stay, we knew us by sight. After dinner, on most of the nights we where there we headed down to the sunrise side, to the beach where the ferry lands, and after collecting bamboo, or anything that would burn, we would have a bonfire with most of the other travelers on the island, usually around 30-40 people.
Obviously, staying on the sunset side of the island, we got to sit out either in our restaurant, or on our bungalow porch and watch a great colorful sunset over the river.
This was pretty much it for our trip in Laos. From here, we would head across the boarder and take a night bus back to Bangkok. As we where planning to go, we heard from a few people that had just shown up on Don Det that Bangkok was having heavy rioting and conflict around the political protests that where happening all month I was in the region. Someone mentioned that the airport was closed and that Kauo San Road had been shut down due to danger of violence. Scotty and I where skeptical, and went online to see if there was any mention of this. Scott also emailed his friend Duncan that lived in Bangkok to get a first hand, accurate account of what the actual danger was.
After our research we where confident we would be fine, and 2 days later we where on a bus back to Bangkok.