Pakse - Nakasang - Don Det, by bus, 26th - 29th of March 2017
Pakse to Don Det Island by bus and boat
We left Pakse in the morning. The journey to Don Det was a quick one - just a couple of hours and we got to Nakasang to catch the boat across to the island. We strolled down this little town consisting of one main street and a dirt road. We didn't really know where to head to get 'the ferry' but we followed the direction everyone walked to. We got into the crowd, showed our tickets to some lady in a little window and she pointed us to the wooden platform floating on the water.
The ferry boat turned out to be a wobbly old wooden canoe.
One by one, together with other people, we unsurely sat ourselves on the small wooden benches. The 'captain' threw our bags in one heap at the end of the canoe. After 20mins of the ride, we got to the beach in Don Det. The sun was fryingly hot and we were dripping in sweat, only to find out that the accommodation we booked was at the other end of the island, about 3km away...
The island reminded us a bit of the one in Thailand, Koh Phangan. The street we arrived to was filled with bars and full of expats. There weren't many locals around.
Don Det Island
We asked around about tuk tuks because we couldn't be bothered walking with our bags in this heat but a guy, who we talked to, suggested a bicycle. With my big backpack and the smaller one filled with 4 cameras, I could already visualise how I get on the bicycle and tip backwards.
We kept asking until we found an expat with a motorbike, who offered to take us one by one to our bungalow, if we buy beer at his bar.
So... to be kind, we ordered a big lunch and three beers at his bar.
After that we decided that Zach with his backpacks will go first. The tiny guy got on his bike, Zach and his big and small backpacks beside him and they took off. The guy came back about a minute later:
"Your husband's too heavy! I can't drive like that! My bike will break! Let's try with you."
So I got on. And these were probably the most uncomfortable 3 kilometres of my life. The bike was so small and my big backpack was pulling me to the back so much that I could hardly hold on to the bike. On the way we passed Zach but I didn't even get a chance to tell him anything. We also passed chickens running for their life in front of the bike's wheels and the locals waving to the expat-guy and laughing at him - not sure what were their thoughts on him driving a girl on a bike...
We got to the end of the island and I asked the guy whether he knew what was the deal with Zach. He answered that Zach will walk up here and he will go and pick up his big bag now.
He came back 5mins later with Zach's backpack and I thanked him, to which he answered (as if he just did the biggest job ever):
"Maybe you shouldn't let your husband eat kebabs, haha! And no worries - you just buy me another beer!"
Excuse me? We just spent our three meal budget for one meal at your bar and you still want more even though you didn't get Zach here? I see.
Swimming in the Mekong
Zach eventually got here and to cool down we went to the little nearby beach and jumped into refreshing Mekong River! The river was flowing fast so you had to have your wits about you, but the shore was sandy and clear. The water was freezing! But there was nothing better than a cold dip on this extremely hot day.
Our time in Don Det was quite lovely. The island didn't have any asphalt roads, and in fact it really only had two roads - one on 'the sunset side' and one on 'the sunrise side'. There were plenty of water buffalos, cows and chickens. Our bungalow, Nang's Garden, was full of geckos and insects - we booked it through AirBnB because we had a £25 voucher and it was definitely not like the photos and description but oh well, we swam a lot in the river, rode around the island on the bicycles, had beers on the beach and watched beautiful sunsets and experienced huge rains.
When we passed the expat guy's bar later on he shouted to us 'Where is my beer?!' in a kinda jokingly, but not-really, way. We went to the shop and bought him a bottle of beer. It was sold by a 12 year old sitting behind the counter who was watching cartoons on her iPhone. When I accidentally bumped the counter and her iPhone fell flat on it, she gave me a killer look.
We stayed on the island for four days and it was enough for us to relax before we headed to the busy Cambodian cities. Next stop was Stung Treng on the Cambodian side of the border...