So after three total days of swimming from bar to bar in Van Vieng we decided it was time for a detox.
After a quick overnight stay in Ventiene, the capital, with a brief visit to a couple of beautiful temples, we headed on a very long journey down through Laos to the Four Thousand Islands.
After a sleeper bus whose beds were obviously not made to hold our overly tall Western frames a minibus the next morning and a boat ride, we found ourselves on Don Det island.
The Four Thousand Islands is right down in southern Laos just before the Cambodian border. I’m still unclear as to how many days I stayed there because time didn’t seem to move. While the islands are getting a little more popular, we managed to hit them at a pretty good time. There are a few guesthouses, mostly bungalow style which means a wooden hut by the water with just enough room for a double bed and nothing else. No, not even toilets, those are in another building.
We spent however many days hanging out in hammocks a LOT and occasionally jumping into the river for a quick swim.
If you are ever on Don Det, find the bakery if it doesn’t find you first. Darren, an Australian who has moved to the island runs a delicious bakery/resturant. On our first day there he rode to our guesthouse on his bike with his leftover pastries for the day. You HAVE to try a coconut slice or a caramel slice if you’re there and he’s making them. After he realized we were his goldmine we went there almost every day at noon when the fresh stuff came out of the oven, and then without fail he showed up on his bike after closing with leftovers.
There are no banks, ATMs, or anything on the islands which caused some entertainment. Two of our group made it to the mainland before finding out that it was a Sunday and therefore the one Western Union was closed. Then made it back the next day with some cash which was lucky because then we all started to run out…stupid Darren…
We finally decided to leave and bought a ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We got a boat to the mainland, then a bus to the border. We got dropped off and went through the departure process (which costs $1) then Claudia and I (we were ahead of everyone else) realised that our bus wasn’t there anymore….
The bus had driven across to the Cambodian side, dropped our bags on the side of the road and left. So Claudia (who was barefoot after losing her flip flops, well done…) and I walked the 200 metres of No Man’s Land in between the boarders to our bags. I should mention that this was an unofficial border, so the border offices were literally just wooden huts on the side of the dirt road with a wooden police station in between to apply for the Cambodian visa. We were in the middle of NOWHERE. We get our visas, ($21) then enter Cambodia (another $1).
I managed to get through this whole process with exactly $0. Remember the whole problem with no cash machines on the island…. Anyway I’m lucky enough to have friends who do bring dollars with them and my tip for you is to do so as well!!
After a long hot bus journey we arrived in a small Cambodian town where we stayed the night and celebrated St Patrick’s Day by drinking a bottle of Baileys after I had some wine!! My first wine and Baileys since leaving England, so it was a big deal. Then on to Siem Reap this morning.
Some tuk tuk driver tried to take advantage of us, but after getting out at a gas station and walking away we found another tuk tuk who took us to our hostel and here we are!
Cambodia, here we go.