No regrets in leaving Cambodia, particularly after the bus company we, and several other tourists, hired to take us to Nakasong, Laos dropped us at the border and promptly left with no explanation.
We exited Cambodian passport control, walked across the border, paid the $2 fee required to get into Laos (we had already paid $22 for a visa) and waited for about 45 minutes, trying to figure out what was going on which is challenging when you don’t speak the local language. Not wanting to stand at the border of Cambodia-Laos and wait for the bus company to remember we were there, John negotiated a taxi ride to Nakasong.
Part of our original ticket purchased from the bus company was a boat ride from Nakasong to Don Det and we were able to use that portion of the ticket, arriving just as the sun was setting.
Don Det is part of a number of small islands on the Me Kong River collectively known as the 4000 Islands. We spent three enjoyable days there.
We found nice accommodations at the Baba Guesthouse. The view from our balcony overlooked the river.
Imagine our surprise when our “garden view” featured our laundry.
Don Det has a laid back, hippie kind of vibe. This sign in one of the restaurants captures the essence of Don Det from the tourist’s perspective.
To get a feel for how the Laotians live on this big river, we took a boat tour of the islands.
Agriculture and tourism drive the local economy. The mix still leans more heavily toward agriculture.
No matter how poor the village, the temple was the most ornate structure around.
Pagodas were plentiful.
As was livestock!
The villagers, particularly the children, were very friendly. They waved to us as we passed their schoolyard or homes. They took great delight in John when he stopped to shake their hands.
Yesterday, we went to see the dolphins that inhabit a small area of the river. No dolphins in sight, but we did have a wonderful time with some village children who enjoyed practicing their English with us and teaching us a few words in Laotian.
Then it was onto the massive Khonephapheng Waterfall.
A beautiful park and shrine to a sacred tree, which had been removed from the top of the waterfall, were part of the sight-seeing.
Life is hard on the river, but the people seem happy. I am not sure how long their lives will remain unchanged as more and more tourists seem to be discovering the 4000 Islands.