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Relaxing turned into tension

Don Det Travel Blog

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A view of Don Khon from Don Det

People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia), Jim (England), Chris (Holland)

We caught a mini bus from the Laos border to a small village, from where we caught a motorised canoe to the island of Don Det. It is situated in Si Phan Don, which translates to 4000 islands, due to the many islands and sand banks littering the Mekong in this region. We spent the first day trying to relax in the sun by the small beach, but small flies made this pretty hard to do.

It wasn't until the following day that we really went out to explore the area. Julia and I took a walk around the island, following the river until it came to an old railway bridge, built during the French occupation.

The run off from Tat Somphamit waterfall on Don Khon
We crossed over, thus entering the island of Don Khon.

On Don Khon we went to visit the impressive Tat Somphamit waterfall, a disused French locomotive and some old French channels that were built to guide logs down stream. We also passed through some nice local villages and received some cheery sabadiy's (hello's) from the locals. After a couple of hours we began to make our way back to the bridge when the sky turned pitch black and the wind speed picked up dramatically. Within seconds coconuts, palm leaves and bananas were crashing to the ground around us from great heights. It became a little scary and we ran over the bridge, through a dust storm and light rain and into a nearby cafe, where we bumped into Jim.

An hour or so later and the worst of the weather seemed to have passed, the only problem was that it was now dark.

Tat Somphamit waterfall on Don Khon
The island has no electricity and only generators provide electricity to the restaurants and hotels that are sparsely populated around the island. We therefore had to rely on the light from my phone to guide us home, which took us around 40 minutes.

The following day was much cooler and this seemed to have put off all of the flies and mosquitos, so we were able to sit in some restaurants by the river and relax. We met a nice Dutch girl called Chris and chatted the day and night away with her. We ended up in a bar for Dinner and followed our meal with a few drinks. Around 11pm when we were brought the bill, we told the waitress that the bill was incorrect and we had drunk some tea so owed her $14 instead of $13 that was written down. She went and got her list and within seconds said we actually owed her $18.

Julia with an old French Locomotive on Don Khon
She said we had to pay for everything on our table, which included some empty beer bottles of some guys who had come in to buy some take outs. We asked to see the manager and a few seconds later a loud mouthed English bloke came storming from a bungalow shouting for us to pay the bill. We tried to explain it was an honest mistake and wanted to explain the situation calmly. He just got more aggitated when we tried to stand up to show him our tab, which was on another table, by the exit of the restaurant. Before we knew what was happening he was going crazy and even pushed Julia, shouting to sit down. By this stage some of his Lao friends had come to see what all the fuss was about. We told them that we just wanted to pay the bill and go. The next thing we knew, the guy was telling him that the bill was now over $20.
A view of Don Khon from Don Det as the storm brews
We left the money with little other options and walked out, completely forgetting my rucksack with all my valuables in!

The following day, Julia went back to the restaurant to retrieve our bag, as i was feeling sick. We had expected that the guy may apologise for going over the top the previous night, but instead he carried on his rant. He told Julia that we could have been arrested!?, he said he used to work for the police force (take it he played the bad cop in interrogations), their restaurant is great and always looks after the customers (yeah right). He then made her check what was in the bag and had the cheek to say they would never steal - even though they stole about $10 from us the previous night! It was a pretty disappointing end to our stay on the island and left a sour taste in our mouths, not with the Laos people, but with foreigners ruining what is otherwise a beautiful area. I guess he had moved there as that kind of behaviour in other countries would see him getting into a lot of trouble.

We caught a canoe off the island the following day, excited to be heading to somewhere with electricity and therefore fans, to help cope with the baking heat.

bluemarbletreader says:
You probably ought to mention the name of the bar, as a warning to future travelers!
Posted on: May 29, 2008
Deats says:
Yeah, he was the big man when he had his little entourage of Laos guys stood behind him, prick. That was the only bad time i had in Laos and it was with an English bloke, oh well!
Posted on: Apr 21, 2008
James1985 says:
tosser,id of lamped him one!
Posted on: Apr 21, 2008
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A view of Don Khon from Don Det
A view of Don Khon from Don Det
The run off from Tat Somphamit wat…
The run off from Tat Somphamit wa…
Tat Somphamit waterfall on Don Khon
Tat Somphamit waterfall on Don Khon
Julia with an old French Locomotiv…
Julia with an old French Locomoti…
A view of Don Khon from Don Det as…
A view of Don Khon from Don Det a…
A toad on the island
A toad on the island
Nightlife on Don Det - ants and fl…
Nightlife on Don Det - ants and f…
A view of Don Khon from Don Det
A view of Don Khon from Don Det
Looking down the river with Don De…
Looking down the river with Don D…
A Wat on Don Khon
A Wat on Don Khon
Don Det
photo by: Stevie_Wes