I’m here to tell you about the most relaxing place I have ever been! After my 3 days of zip lining, abseiling, hiking and rock climbing, I couldn’t think of anything better to do then chill out. My body hurt in places it’s never hurt before, I was physically fried and slightly broke from my last excursion. I needed desperately to work on my blog and edit the 3 hours of footage from my Green Discovery adventure. I couldn’t have picked a better spot than the 4,000 Islands of southern Laos. Si Phan Don, which means 4,000 islands, is a riverine archipelago, characterized of several islands. During the monsoon season many of the islands become submerged. In the hotter seasons more islands can be seen. Only about 4 of the islands are populated, whereas, many islands remain untouched.
I first arrived with Audrey the day after our Green Discovery adventure. She was only staying for one night and leaving early the next morning. I planned to stay for a week, so I let her call the shots with it being her only day there. We rented some bikes and went exploring. We found a beach with a baby chick that wanted to come home with me. The baby chick climbed into my hand and when I put it down it followed me. Adorable!! We then biked to the other end of the island and got ourselves some smoothies and snapped a few photos of the old French locomotive that rests on the island.
After enjoying our smoothies and relaxing for a bit we hired a boat to take us to see the endangered Irawaddy dolphins. There is a family of three living here in the Mekong, a Mom, Dad and baby dolphin. They are three of the remaining 90ish left on earth. The boat ride out was beautiful. The little islands of green shrubbery lifting out of the Mekong are truly spectacular. They look like large arrangements of plants in a pond. Our driver was an expert at swerving in between the little islands and avoiding the floating bottles tethered to warn you of the small islands living just under the surface. He knew right where the dolphins would be and we parked on a little beach and killed the engine so they would surface. We stayed for less than an hour. They did come to the surface and made that fountain sound from their blow holes, but they never came out of the water. I was hoping for a little sea world show of acrobatics but I was sadly disappointed. However, now I can say I saw an Irrawaddy dolphin and die happy as well as have bragging rights.
We slowly biked back to our guesthouse because I was so sore and my muscles were screaming profanities at me. We took much needed showers and relaxed a bit before heading into town to chase a sunset and get some dinner. We found a cute little spot on the waterfront with great views of the Mekong and sunset. We ordered some spring rolls which were so fantastic that we had a second order. They made a fabulous sweet and spicy peanut sauce for dipping. It was amazing! We ordered dinner there as well, after the sunset, but it was nothing to write home about!
After dinner we decided we needed dessert so we went to another little restaurant called the Garden and had fried bananas with honey and some mango sticky rice. I LOVED the Garden. It’s owned by an adorable family. Their outdoor kitchen is tiny and at the front of the restaurant. Everyone cooks and the food is hands down best in town. They also have a massage room and after dessert, Audrey and I had hour long Lao massages. Mine was weak, Audrey’s was good. They had 3 little adorable, mischievous, playful puppies running around and constantly hiding under the tables and licking our toes. We returned together the next morning to have breakfast before Audrey left. I then returned everyday of my stay for at least one meal. They make the best mango sticky rice I have ever had! I ordered it several times.
After Audrey left I was pretty lonely. I don’t typically get lonely, I actually love being on my own. I don’t enjoy many people’s company for long periods of time. I’m actually an introvert in that sense. But when I do meet people I connect with, I come out of that little shell and I miss them when they are gone. Anyways, to fill Audrey’s void, I decided to dive right into my work. I had the daunting, time consuming project of my Green Discovery blog and countless hours of footage to edit. I’ve also been researching and learning a ton about building my business online in hopes to be able to eventually make money from blogging and social media influencing so I can continue to travel full time.
My little bungalow was fantastic for a digital oasis. I spent all my time working, researching and editing. My patio deck had a hammock and two lounge beds as well as a table and chair. In the mornings I would work on the patio until it got too hot then escape back inside and crank the AC until the sun went down. I only left a few times a day to get food. Besides eating at the Garden I tried almost every other restaurant that was open. Many are closed during the slow season. There was one restaurant with decent enough WiFi to upload my videos when I finished editing them. The videos would take almost 3 hours to upload because of how slow the WiFi was. A few times they cancelled at the last minute after waiting hours for them. So frustrating!!
When I had finally completed my zip line blog and videos I decided to reward myself by renting a motorbike for a day to get out and see the rest of Don Khon as well as visit the party island of Don Det right across the Mekong. It had rained something fierce the night prior so the roads had all turned into pond cities, making it a messy and muddy ride all day. I didn’t care though I had an amazing time scootin around town. I visited two waterfalls. The first one was much smaller, with a dodgey wooden bridge to cross, lots of trails to explore around the falls and a little beach.
The second falls were much bigger or I guess a better word is massive. The Somphamit Falls is a cascade of falls that showcases the power of the Mekong in a picturesque setting of rocks and water. The grounds of the park are quite large with a beach and bungalow restaurant/bar as well as a café. Several different lookout points along the falls for countless photo opts. A children’s center with water park structures and swings into the water as well as a zipline. Throughout the entire park there are tons of places to stop and sit or lounge and rest. I was there in mid afternoon and wished I had come later because I’m absolutely positive that it’s an amazing spot for the sunset.
There truly wasn’t much else to do in the village. My bungalow was so well equipped with the hammock and AC that I didn’t really want to leave. I, for the most part, have only stayed in hostels with bunks and several other people so the solitude of my own space was intoxicating. After having my own pad for a week it sure was hard to go back to hostel life!
My favorite part about the sleepy little island of Don Khon were the people. The kids were so happy and always smiled, waved and said hello when they saw me. The people were always kind, helpful and patient with me when I couldn’t communicate. Many people asked me about my life, where I come from and genuinely wanted to get to know me. I made several friends in the village and after a few days began to feel a part of the culture and people greeted me as if I was one of them. I loved how many animals I saw, a lot of which were domestic house pets, which you don’t see a lot of in Asia. I saw cows, buffalo, ducks, goats, tons of dogs, cats and chickens. I loved watching small children riding around on adult sized bikes because that’s all they have, it’s so cute. The community seems to work together as one. If you go to a restaurant and order a coconut but they don’t have any, they just walk to the neighbors and get one. The island felt more like a giant family.
I loved Don Khon and I wanted to stay forever but I eventually had to move on because I have so much more ahead of me. But I didn’t say goodbye, I just said see you next time. I fully intend on returning one day! I’ll leave you with a few sunsets…
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