Our three hour commute from Pakse to Si Phan Don (literally translates to “4000 Islands”) went fairly quick, thank goodness. After those sleeper buses, I was in no mood for drawn out transportation. Before long we had reached Nakasang, a small jumping off point to catch a boat to the islands. We chose to visit Don Det because it is said to be a little more happening than some of the others. Now having experienced it, it’s safe to say that none of them are really “happening.” Sleepy and content, it’s a charming island that can give you a great glimpse into local life if you seek it out and allow it to.
Upon stepping foot on its dusty shores, we trekked to the right of the boat launch, eager to find a decent enough place to drop our bags and rest our heads. The direction we waddled had no road so we had hoped we would stumble upon an appealing one quickly. I had read about some in our guidebook and was stoked when we actually ran into one – the Don Det Bungalows. I definitely recommend staying there! They have great food, cute pets, happy staff, mosquito nets, and really great accommodation. The cafe sits over the Mekong River, and hammocks happily sway side to side on each bungalow’s front porch. At $8/night we were sold! Only wish we could have stayed longer.
Eager to make the most of our short stay we borrowed bikes and set off. Turning down a local path at one point we came across a family fishing in the irrigation ditches with wicker baskets and their hands. I helped them grab one that got away in the dirt and they seemed so grateful and friendly. We were truly interested in what was happening but of course didn’t want to stare so we continued riding through the rice paddies until eventually turning around to continue down the road we would have walked had we turned left off the boat launch (we made the right choice – no guesthouses to the left).
My bike’s seat was unable to adjust so I worked really hard to pedal, sitting low on the barbie pink frame. I was exhausted but we persevered onward all the way to the neighboring island of Don Khon, where we visited the largest southeast Asian waterfall by volume, known as the Khone Phapheng Falls. Both very beautiful and very terrifying, as many powerful things are, and totally worth a visit.
Tired and sweaty, we headed back to our bungalow along the bumpy path. Rob traded bikes with me so the return trip was a breeze! He struggled but at least he understood what was taking me so long the whole way there. Getting back seemed much quicker! We washed up, had dinner, and repacked our bags for an early breakfast and departure back to Nakasang where we were to catch VIP bus to Kratie, Cambodia the following morning.
Now that’s a story worth waiting for…