After a pretty painless 2 hour minibus ride we arrived at Ban Nampasak and promptly hopped on a small boat out to the islands. The trip out to the islands was breathtaking. The area, as the name suggests, is made up of around 4,000 islands in the Mekong river. The two main places that people go to are Don Det and Don Khone. Don Det is where all the cheapest places are and is renowned as a party island (especially now that the tubing in Vang Vieng now has no drinking attached to it). Don Khone on the other hand is slightly more expensive, but frequented mainly by those looking to quietly relax. Needless to say, we choose Don Khone!
As booking systems don’t exist, we turned up, struggled up the muddy bank and then looked for somewhere to stay. The accommodation area on the island is concentrated in a 1km stretch along the northern banks, and we eventually found a hut that sat above the river with a hammock providing the most exquisite views. Suffice it to say that we spent the whole afternoon and evening just reading, relaxing and soaking up the views (plus there was a guesthouse cat which took a liking to Sam and decided to sleep on her for several hours! It turns out Don Khone is a cat island with cats everywhere!)
The next day, due to a rather cramped room and uncomfy bed, we decided to move huts and moved into one up the road with attached restaurant that would either bring your order to your room or to its tables overlooking the Mekong. Another day of full relaxing ensued.
The next day we decided that we should probably do something, and so set out to properly explore the island. Outside of the small village the island is essentially unmolested Laos…several pockets of village huts with villagers, completely untouched by developers or anything else. Our walk took us around the perimeter of the island, through forests, huts and buffalo. Several cyclists passed us, but other than that we saw no one else other than villagers. Perfect!
When we reached the end of the island we found a viewing point that looked out to Cambodia. Quite a spectacular spot. There was also a small rusty train engine from Laos’ only railway (long since dismantled) which used to transport steam boats across the island, saving them the impossible journey through the waterfalls which surround the island. We walked back down the road which was once the railway and jumped in the river to cool off when we were back at our hut. 11kms of walking in 37 degrees made up for a couple of slothful days!
Other than relaxing, the only other thing we did was head to the waterfalls. With the largest water flow of any falls in Asia, they seemed unimpressive at first…until we realised that they kept going, and going, and going. They were huge, with over 20 separate falls making up the area as a whole.
Fully relaxed, we were then ready to head to Cambodia to start our next adventure. Can’t wait!