Don Det – March 2011
This being my first trip to SEA and not yet understanding that honest advertising is a flexible position we decided to book a “sleeper bus” to Don Det (four thousand islands) in Laos. We were told that the bus would leave at midnight and would arrive at 8am in Don Det, which sounded fine to me! I pay $15 and arrive in a river paradise after sleeping my way there? Sure thing! Wrong. After being told our trip would be overnight on a sleeper bus arriving the next morning at 8am, we ended up having a sleeper bus for a few hours before transferring between several buses and finally arriving at the Laos border around four pm later that day. By the time we did finally make it to Don Det (via a further car and boat trip) it was nightfall.
We found a room for the night for about $10 and passed out after a long a dusty journey. Although the journey was arduous we woke up in the middle of a gorgeous island surrounded by a picturesque lake and it was all worth it.
We woke up and devoured breakfast at one of the cute restaurants overlooking the lake. Laos food is very similar to Thai food and incredibly delicious. It was my introduction to iced coffee with condensed milk and my zeal for it has not diminished.
We hired bikes and cycled around the idyllic islands, stopping in to have lunch at local restaurants run out of locals homes. We met a lovely American couple who lived and worked out of one of the guest houses, having chosen to retire in Don Det who gave us some great recommendations on where to visit and eat. At night I lay on the hammock on the deck of my lakeside hut and sipped on beer lao or the local whisky lao lao.
Although there was definitely a strip of tourist spots at the entrance of Don Det the majority of the island is locals. As the island is quite out of the way, in addition to not having large hotels, or 24 hour power working, it keeps it pretty low key.
Although the island doesn’t have a party reputation they do have mystery milkshakes, and although we had been warned not to drink them my idiot of a bf at the time decided he would. I would say the milkshake was more mystery than milk, and needless to say he didn’t have a good time and I got to look after him while he freaked out.
Say no to mystery milkshakes.