THE “4000 ISLANDS”

After spending two days in Champassak, we took the minivan this time to reach the 4000 islands and more particularly the island of Don Khone. Arrived in Nakasang, we take the long boat for a 40 min crossing. Our boat had a little trouble leaving because it wasn’t full, while there were already 2 boats for Don Det that had left and considering the population inside, we thought we had chosen our island well! As always, we went around a bit to find an inn at a price that suited us, and we’ll change along the way.

The island of Don Khone aspires to tranquility. At the same time, at first glance there is not much to do about it. The “centre” is limited to a single road along the Mekong River where restaurants and guest-houses are linked. Very quickly we find Jonathan, a Quebecer we had already met on the Bolivian loop and Adèle, a Belgian girl we met on the long boat. We decide to go and see the waterfall which is a little further south but when we get there, we will give up because of the price and the late hour. According to other travellers, we tried to bypass the ticket office by going through the river a little further but a lady was waiting for us on the other side to make us pay for the entrance… so we turned around like nothing (“no no I didn’t want to cross, I just soaked my feet!”).

In the evening we will admire the sunset over the Mekong from our hammock, the foot!

A DAY IN A KAYAK

We heard that this day was really nice and worth it. So we motivated Adèle and Jo and here we are registered for the next day. Departure at 8am from Don Khone, we quickly meet up on Don Det after 10min of long boat to have breakfast and join the rest of the group for the day. Breakfast lasted forever, we thought we were never going to leave but around 10:15 am we were finally on our kayaks. Ariane, Annes and John are a perfectly synchronized team while Martin is on his own on his kayak. And here we go, we advance slowly on the Mekong River between the islets and the buffaloes that are cooling down. The band is moving slowly, we have some nice balls in the lot but it makes us laugh (although Adèle complains because we have to stop all the time to wait for them ^^).

After a good hour of “paddling”, we set foot ashore in a small village. The opportunity to greet a small game monkey by the side of the road and we start a small walk to the Khonepasoi waterfall.

We barely have time to take a picture on the suspension bridge before we continue walking to another waterfall where there are pontoons for fishermen. Our guide sets an example and throws himself into the water: he gets carried away by the current for about 50 metres, two seconds later, everyone is in the water and doing the same thing! We’ll enjoy the place for a while before we start walking again.

We then find our kayaks but especially the lunch to regain some strength. Then we go back to the water to take a few rapids, some of which will be fatal (several times!) for the least stretched kayaks. As for Ariane, Anne and John, bad luck after hitting a rock a little too close, our kayak takes the water! Everyone has already left but a guide will empty it and tinker with an ephemeral paste (a kind of melted wax) so that our kayak can take us to the end of the trip.

A few hundred meters further on we find the whole group looking at the pink dolphins. Well, we don’t really know if they’re pink, but there were dolphins, that’s something! We saw them from afar but some of them still showed themselves well and it’s still a beautiful show even if it’s fast.

No time to rest, we still have a good hour to go (which will have seemed like an eternity to us!) to reach the mainland. It was straight, flat and very wide so we had the impression we were not moving forward but our famous cannonballs will still have turned over an umpteenth time!

From there we take a songteo and head towards the famous Phapheng waterfall. Indeed it is very big and noisy! Good from there to compare it to Niagara Falls maybe not but they are still very nice to look at.

Our day ends there, we will have enjoyed it well and we didn’t expect to do so many things, let’s say we were delighted! If you have the opportunity to do this day trip do not hesitate, on the other hand do not expect to be alone on your kayak, we were 40 in our group!

A BIKE RIDE

After working on the arms with the kayak, we decide to make the legs go and the next day we rent bicycles. We start by going for a ride on Don Det. The island is similar to Don Khone but seems a little more empty and rural (at least in the south). The objective was to arrive at noon at a restaurant that John had spotted to taste the Canadian poutine: a treat!

We continue our journey by finishing Don Det’s tour and returning to Don Khone. By the way, we had no problem crossing the bridge, we were never asked to pay when they had arrested other people who had to pay the toll. We made a brief stop in front of the old locomotive, reminiscent of an old railway that connected the two islands, and headed south. The idea was to go back to see the dolphins but that day they never pointed to the end of their fins. We turned back and stopped by a small beach just to dip into the Mekong one last time.

We spent the evening with Ariane, Jonathan and other French people with whom we played at Time’s Up. We had a great time, we had a really good laugh and despite our team we didn’t lose! :-p

The next day was supposed to be a day of rest and fortunately since Anne was sick all night and was unable to get up all day. So it is lying in bed that we will spend our last day in Laos!