We extended our visa for an extra week for some serious relaxation in the very south of Laos, a collection of 4000 islands in the Mekong - 'Si Phan Don'.
After a long tuktuk ride and short boat trip we arrived at the biggest island - Don Khong. continuing as we have in laos obystaying by the river - All the small villages on the largest island are on the outskirts of the island whilst the centre is reserved for rice paddies and farmlands. We hired a motorbike and set off to explore the island - we got two flat tyres in the poring rain so it wasnt a complete sucess! we also got lost numerous times but all the islanders are so friendly and helped us find our way (how we got lost when there was only one dirt track around the island ill never know!) I still cant get over the sheer size of the mekong to fit a 18km wide island in it! We took a lovely day trip with the local legend Mr Boumy "'bonjour miss, madames monsieurs!'' and explored two smaller islands and decided to spend the rest of the week on Don Det, the tiniest one! We found our paradise spot - wooden shack, mozzie net and two hammocks - what more could you ever need? And the cheapest yet - 30p each a night!! Run by the cutest family with a colletion of children that seemed to get bigger every day, and a very stern grandmother that we were both terrified of! she had no teeth but bright red gums from chewing a beetlenut (a 'natural high'that all then old south east asian people indulge in!) all day everyday. The island was full of animals - pigs piglets, goats, pink albino cows (very odd!) dogs, kittens, and of course buffalo and chickens! we loved them all especially a big fat pig that we cuddled everyday! The cockerel wasnt so popular - he started crowing (it was more like a scream) at 3am and stopped about 11am - so we had a lot of early mornings - i was so sure chris was going to assasinate it! As we explored the islands we found some great rapids the noise of them was incredible - they had very rickety and broken bridges crossing them which the fisherman braved with the 'help of the spirits'rather them than me!! We also saw the remains of the Frenh oupation - a tiny steam train and a railway used to transport goods and the rapids were a source of triumph for the laos people as the colonials could not pass them. The monsoon season has well and truly arried - albeit 2 months late! We watched some awesome storms and got caught in one - we had to face the battling wind and rain in the dark (no electricity on theses islands) luckily chris headtorch came to the rescue!! We cycled around the island most days and we stopped for a drink and who should i bump into by my friend joey ellston! i coludnt believe it - what are the chances in somewhere so remote?!! We spend the day and had dinner with joey and his girlfriend Emily and by the end of the night we had somehow turned into a group of 20 people it was a great night! We discovered the best bakery that had giant donuts filled with banana and chocolate mm! i know i keep saying this but this was definately our faourite place in Laos!! We spent 3 days just reading in hammocks i got through three books!! We will be back!