We are now in Si Phan Don, also known as 4000 islands. It is a number of islands...i guess maybe 4000? which are surrounded buy the Mekong river. There are 3 main habitable Islands, we are at the largest called Don Khong. Although its the largest it is the quietest, made up of just a small number of villages, one being where all the guest houses and restraunts are. It is totally stunning here, even though the river is still a chocolate brown colour its beautiful. All the accomodation along one small street which made it really easy when finding somewhere to stay. It took 3 hours in a mini bus to get to the boat landing, where we saw the raft boat we were getting on. Our room was peanuts! it was the second one we looked at as the first was nothing special and 80,000 kip which is about £6.40, the next place was a really lovely room and was only 60,000 which is about £4.80!
This is a really sleep chilled island, its not somewhere you come to see and do its somewhere you sit by the river, drink a beer and reflect on what an amazing time your having. The most activity going on is from the fisherman who you can sit and watch cast thier nets and see what they find.
On the day we arrived we had been told about a hotel with a pool, so we went investigating and found it, the pool was tiny but there was no one there and it looked straight out onto the river, bliss! We had to pay to use it so it was a treat but it was well worth it just for a dip in that cool pool.
We hired some bicycles out the next day, old city bikes with no gears and cute pink baskets on the front. We had asked how long it would take to cylce the whole island as there is only one road and it goes right around the outside. Ok so we knew it would take at least 4 hours, so off we went at 9:30, by 11 we were feeling rather silly for thinking that taking on a 4 hour bike ride in the midday sun with no shade in sight would be a good idea...plonkers. We were nackered, and the majority of the road, although flat, was really straight and long with not all that much to look at, so we wern't enjoying our ride as much as we had hoped. We made it back, hot, smelly and a little burnt but treated ourselves to a well deserved beer and ice cream :)
Im not sure if there are more people or cows on this island! they are every where and they dont seem to have a set home, you see them wandering about in big groups going from field to field, and they dont care if your coming on your bike they just cross the road and you have to wait for them. They are the cutest dough eyed cows and every one of them wears a bell round its neck so they all make a really lovely sound, like wind chimes. And then theres the water buffalows, although they look big and mean they are super slow and dopey. We went to the ATM after dark and ended up walking with a whole herd for about 5 minutes down the road, little un-nurving but also kind of cool too.
The food out hear in Laos is really good, they do a lot of dishes using coconut milk, and not too spicy, although if you say you like chillies they will make it hot for you. The locals mainly eat sticky rice, now when i first orderd sticky rice i was expectng the kind of rice you might get at home..oh no its totally diferent. They steam it in wooden baskets and you can pick it up as a whole ball, the correct way of eating it is to pinch a small ball off and roll in into a walnut shape and then dip it into whatever else your eating it with. You see locals eating it for every meal, children walk around with big lumps in their hand like they are chomping on an apple, its really funny to see.
Off to Don Det next which is supposed to be a party island but we will see, another hour boat ride down the Mekong :)