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running away Traveling south east asia, china, australia, new zealand and america. wherever the mood takes me!

4 thousand islands

LAOS | Thursday, 11 December 2008 | Views [2186] | Comments [1]

me and zach

me and zach


I got the bus to 4 thousand islands the next day. And then the boat to don det island. I wasn't sure where to stay and there was no one to hassle us as we got off the boat, which was great. Such a change from Vietnam already. I wandered down the track and pretty much stopped at the first bungalows. It wasn't bad so I dropped my bag and headed out again. I got myself a bike to go exploring the island and maybe go see the waterfall on the next island. I was cycling along when I saw a sign for a bakery and stopped for lunch. The bakery had no baked goods though. It was on Laos time and nothing was ready till after 12 in the afternoon. So I had noddles to eat and was hopeful that something would be ready by the time I was finished. I did get to taste the banana chocolate donuts, when were pretty good.

After lunch I was cycling along and I noticed that my back wheel was flat. I should have really turned around and got a new bike but I was feeling lazy and didn't. which was pretty stupid of me considering its harder to cycle with a flat tire. I was cycling along wasn't sure where I was going but I did find the bridge that brought me to the next island. When I got across, I had to pay to go to the waterfall. It was a great cycle and when I got to there the waterfall was really nice. I was hoping to go swimming in it but it was way to strong, there was no way. I heard somewhere that it was the widest waterfall in southeast Asia, which I could totally see as it just kept going. Someone I met said it was like the earth didn't match up at that point.

I was wondering along and sitting watching the falls and I came across a couple of stands and I got a coconut to drink. The lady I got it off told me to come back and she would open it up for me so I could eat the flesh. I hadn't tried eaten fresh coconut yet and I liked the juice so I was hoping it tasted different then at home.

The lady was really nice when she opened it up for me. She even helped me scrap the flesh so I could eat it. Its hard to explain the taste. But it definitely didn't taste like coconut from home. It was really nice. She ended up sitting with me and we were chatting away. Teaching me some Laos words, hello and thank you. When I was leaving she told me to come back the next day and she would teach me one to ten. I wasn't planning on going back as I was hoping to go kayaking the next day, if it wasn't to expensive. I half cycled, half walked back then as the bike was pretty mess-up at that stage. That's my fault for not bringing it back earlier.

I then refreshed myself and headed to the sunset side of the island to watch the sun go down. I didn't know when I got to the island earlier that day that there was a sunrise side and a sunset side, well all islands do! But when getting a bungalow, it was either a sunset view or sunrise. If I had known I would have gone for sunset but I didn't and I'm never up early enough to see the sunrise. I hung out at a restaurant there and watched the sun go down and afterwards I was wondering around looking at the different restaurants trying the find a busy one.

While I was walking a ran into a girl, Helen from Melbourne, that was in the same dorm room as me in paske. She was with a friend of hers, Melissa and they were heading out to find somewhere to eat also. So ended up going with them and having dinner. I was telling them I was hoping to go kayaking tomorrow but the place that did the tour wasn't sure if other people wanted to do it or not. And I didn't want to head off on my own.

Helen said that they were hoping to go kayaking to one of the days if I fancied doing it with them instead. I said I was only planning to stay one more day , so I really wanted to do it tomorrow. They said they didn't mind what day they did it so they could do it tomorrow too and it was all set. We arranged to meet up the next morning and see about getting kayaks for the day.

We met up for 11 the next morning, Helen and Melissa brought a friend with them to go kayaking, which was great as there was really only 2 person kayaks so I needed a partner. It was zach from California. I loved him he was so funny. He remembered me so much of nick even from the saying he had and I could see what he would been like when he was younger maybe? We went looking for kayaks we couldn't get any. The first place had we went to they were taken out already and the other place that had them,, the guy wasn't there, he went to the mainland and there wasn't anyone else to help us. So there was nothing we could do! I had been thinking about trying to stay longer the night before as I believed I could still get up north in time to do the gibbon experience, if I stayed an extra day. So we went cycling instead and booked the kayaks for the next morning.

Zach was so funny he had a mini ghetto blaster that he put in the front basket, so we had music playing out loud as we were cycling along. I have to say we definitely got some strange looks off people wondering were the music was coming from. We were cycling over to the waterfall that I had went to yesterday, which was fine went me as I heard the night before that if I had gone a bit further there was actually a beach where I could have gone swimming. I brought them the way I had cycled the day before which was quite rocky and bumpy but for me this time it was great as I didn't have a flat tire.

We arrived to the waterfall and I came across the same lady where I had my coconut the day before. I told her I brought friends this time and she was all excited. I guess because she was going to be selling 4 coconuts that day. We said we were going to go to the beach first and that we would have them on the way back. So we cycled down to the beach and it was really a beach with sand and everything. I never expected that on a river. It was really nice and quite a few people hanging out. We went down to the water edge and dipped our feet in.

zach was in first one in and Helen and I followed. In was freezing but refreshing. We lazed there for hours talking with the other travellers there. We found out there was going to be a bit of a get together at one of the bars later so we said we would join in. we met a Portuguese girl and she was leaving the same time us, so she joined us for a coconut on our way out.

After the coconut, she was heading back to our island but we were ready to go back yet so we decided to cycling that island don koine. We went following a sign saying dolphin viewing beach. The cycle was really nice, through all the trees and at the end we came to a bigger beach..

We were hoping to be able to see dolphins from the land but it seemed to be the wrong one as the water was still running to fast from the waterfall. But there was boats leaving from there to bring you out to see them. We didn't stay there. So back on our bikes and continued around the island. Along the way we came across a guy running and Helen and Melissa seemed to know him We didn't know where we were going. We stopped a couple of times and were going quite slowly, well we had to have been as the guy running caught up to us and passed us out, saying that he shouldn't be able to do that.

After awhile we came on a really bumpy road and it was a nightmare to cycle on it. And we didn't want to turn around and go back on it. At the end it split and again we came across the running guy again coming back. he told us there was a nice village ahead that we could go to. He was heading down the road away from the way we came. He said he didn't know where it would bring him but hopefully back towards the town on the island. We said goodbye and went towards the village. It was a really nice one and had a great view of the river. I think we found the French loading pier that was suppose to be on the south end of the island. So it was a big concrete platform with no safety railings and a good 50 M. drop down to the water. Zach by accident came across a couple of girls he met in paske, so he had a big reunion. Strange place to run into people. They were on a 3 day tour around the area.

It was getting quite late by then and we could see the beginning of the sunset and it looked so good we stayed a watched it. We even got lucky and saw a dolphin from our perch. The tour guide that was with zachs friends said that we were very lucky as the dolphins don't come this close to land very often. We didn't really see the dolphins as hear it as it surfaced for air. But it was still cool. And the sunset was amazing. Melissa was saying we needed to head as we still had to cycle back. Zach and I were saying, ah we will be fine as its nearly a full moon and it will be really bright. But we really didn't think it through though. After a great sunset, we set off with zach saying good bye. The first part was OK. We followed the path that the guy who was running took earlier. With me in the lead. After awhile when it got fully dark and the trees blocked the moonlight it was getting quite hard to see. But we had to keep going. Even at one stage it looked like there was rocks on the road and I expected it to get all bumpy but it was only leaves throwing shadows. It was a good thing I had my eyes looking ahead of us, as we came across what looked like a bridge but didn't at the same time. There was gaps everywhere. It turned out to be an old railway bridge but I wasn't sure what was keeping it together. The rails weren't even lined up properly together and there was these big planks going over it with gaps between. I think it was actually lucky that it was so dark we couldn't see how far down it went or see through the gaps or I think we would have all freaked out. I would have loved to have gone back during the day just to see what it looked like in daylight.

As we walked across we had our bikes on one plank and we walked across the one parallel to it but there was a good gap between them so we were reaching across. Not only that but the planks were nailed down so they were moving and lifting underneath us. After we got across I said its a good thing none of us are afraid of heights. Melissa said that she was! I'm surprised she made it.

After that it was then called the bridge of doom. I think we may be the only ones to navigate it in the dark. After that it was all pretty easy nothing could be as hard as that. It was actually surreal cycling in the moonlight through rice paddies on either side it. I think it would have made a great picture. When we got to the town on that island we actually ran into the running guy again. It was really funny. We were talking about the bridge of doom and he said he actually ran onto it without realizing what it was. He was really lucky. But it was a good laugh.

We still had to get to our island so we said good bye and found the bridge to get across. Talking to a couple people earlier that day, we found out there was a nicer cycle around our island that wasn't so bumpy. We just had to turn right after the bridge, which we did and it was a real nice cycle from then on. By all the bungalows and restaurants in the moonlight. Very pleasant.

When we arrived back to our village, and had dinner, afterwards I left them to take a shower saying I'll pop by later as we were going to see what was happening at the little get together.

I went by there place, zach decided to give a miss so me and the two girls went down. We found it at a bar. It was really quite quiet and they seemed to have formed groups already. So I felt a little left out at first. They were playing the guitar and singing songs. It turned out to be OK and the electricity and beer ran out at 11 O. clock which was later than normal. Most of them were ready to go to bed so they had the idea of lighting a fire on a beach. So we all walked off to find beach to hang out on but they were walking for ages. And since Helen, Melissa and I were to go kayaking tomorrow we decided to leave it and turned around to go back. Zach earlier had said “we got to get our shit together” (which reminded me of my brother) and get up for 7 in the morning. So I was definitely ready for bed.

The next morning, we were all a little late. We met at half 7 at the restaurant for breakfast and we were to get the kayaks for 9. after the best chocolate banana pancakes ever we split up to get food for lunch and were to meet back at the shop that was giving us our kayaks.

At 9 we got our kayaks and heading out on to the mekong. We were only allowed to go up river as there was waterfalls the down river. And we didn't want to try that one.

We started paddling away. I was inn the front of a kayak with zach while Melissa and Helen were in another one. Zach had to give me a few pointers when we first started out, as he could tell wasn't really good at kayaking. It was really hard work at first but as I got more used to the paddles and with zachs help I got better and my arms didn't hurt as much. Like duh, when pulling with one hand push with the other. Makes sense. We got up the river abit and we stopped for a second to talk to eachother and have a short break but we also noticed that we were moving back quite fast because the river flow was quite strong. We were trying to decided where to go and we decided in the end to end to the left abit where there seemed to be little islands dotted around. We paddled our way to the left, going by a few Laos people fishing in boats and zachs music playing behind me. It was all weird music too, not even sure what genre you would call it, electronic maybe and some reggae. Not something I would particularly pick to hear. But I went with it. Seemed to fit some how.

After awhile we started to notice that we were being pulled from the left side. The river current had changed. We took it as a bad sign, as the current was quite strong and by genius brains working we figured that there was probably a waterfall to the left somewhere so we decided to head back to the main river again and head up that way.

As we came towards the main river again. Helen and Melissa put their kayak into a bush, not sure if it was on purpose or not, but we noticed that they were going any where. We found a dead spot, you could say. So zach and I brought our kayak beside theirs and we just floated there, as we laid back and listen to what ever music zach was playing. It was really cool as the boat just pretty much stayed in the one spot, well other than turning around, but the river just flowed by us on either side. After a while we decided to find some beach where we could have lunch. So we head up the river against the current. The best thing about that was we knew when it came to coming back, we wouldn't have to do anything the current would brings us back for us.

As we were paddling zach and I saw what looked like a beach up ahead. We mentioned it to the girls, who thought it might be to far away but we convinced we would try for it.

We did make it but we were definitely ready for a rest by the time we did. The beach we saw from far away actually ended up being a little island. And on the island was someones vegatable patch. Which I thought was really funny, having an island veggie patch. So of course I had to take pictures.

We had our lunch there, and Helen went to wash the sand off her so she could put sun cream on. It took her awhile to dip down into the water and I didn't blame her. The water seemed quite filthy. There was this foam bubbles floating by her which she diverted around her by putting her fingers into a point into the water against the direction of the water, so as the water and bubbles came near her they would be push off to either side of her and go around. I had to go in a give it a try too. Quite disgusting really. You have an idea what its coming from but you don't really want to say it out loud when your standing waist deep in the water.

She did eventually dip down, which is a lot braver than I was. And by that stage we were all getting quite hot as there was one shade on our little veggie island oasis. So we got into our kayaks and headed up stream again, looking for shade. We didn't get very far as the current had gotten stronger and we could feel ourselves getting burned so we saw some long tail boats moored on a island off to the left of us, with some children playing in the water and we headed for it. The children saw us coming and headed out of the water and up the bank before we got there. So who ever lived up on the bank definitely knew we were coming. Zach was the first one up the bank, there was a couple of houses there and what looked like a new one being built. Zach said sa ba di (hello) to a gentle man that was there waiting for us. Zach indicated that we just wanted out of the sun and the man was smiling and saying something in Laos to us. We were trying to figure out what he was saying as he was moving his hands in the shape of a ball, but a girl came over with a watermelon for us, and that was what he was trying to tell us. It was really sweet. They showed us over to a platform and gave us a plate and knife for us to cut up the watermelon for us to eat. We said cup cai le lie (thank you very much) and started to eat it. It was one of the best watermelons I had. But they had heaps of them in a fenced in area under the house. The main house was on stilts and underneath it was the platform we were sitting on and other things for the house, they use it as an extra living space. While we sitting there eating the watermelon, there was a group of kids across the way from us sitting on a picnic table watching us. It seemed that we had stopped on one of the islands that the locals wouldn't see many foreigners unless they went to the islands that we stayed on. We were talking about it among us and we said we didn't bring any ball or anything to play with the children. That's when zach said he had face paints with him and should he take them out. I got all excited and said yeah lets.

Zach asked for a glass by miming it to one of the kids and they got one for him and he poured water into it. He walked over to the picnic bench they were sitting on and they all moved to one side clearing a whole side for him. Helen sat down with him at the table and he painted her face first while all the children watched him. When he was finished with her face, he was trying to get one of the children to agree to getting theirs painted. There a smaller boy they they kept trying to push closer but he was having none of it.

So I sat down and got zach to paint my face. He painted a butterfly on my cheek and afterwards they still wouldn't paint, so I painted zachs face with fishes and afterwards he painted my other cheek with another butterfly wanting to make a better one. We then started to paint eachothers arms. And it wasn't until I wiped away one of the paintings off my arms and the children realized that it washed off that they then were wanting to paint on eachother. We had 3 different brushes and they took one a started painting the boys on the arms. Zach painted one boy on the arm and he painted zachs arm back. The girls didn't want paint on them though but they did take the paints and start painting a beautiful flower on the table. After a while a couple of the boys went running off. We are not sure where, but they disappeared and the other kids, got into our kayaks and started to have racing games against eachother up and down the river. It was really fun to watch them. And they totally put us to shame in paddling. They were so natural at it and knowing how to steer. They had loads of fun. Somewhere in the middle of all that, one of the girls had gotten pillows for us so we could lie down on the platform and rest our heads. It was really sweet. And zach let one of the boys use his camera for awhile after showing him how to use it, and you could see them wandering around in a little group looking at what the camera was doing and taking photos. I saw the pictures later and they took some really cool ones.

After lying down for a while, we thought we could hear a kid talking off to the side where there was anyone there. It took us awhile but we figured out that it was their bird in a cage talking, laughing like a kid and saying cup cai le lie. We gat a great kick out of that one.

the sun was lower in the sky and it wasn't as hot as it was earlier so we decided we better start heading back. We were giving another watermelon, which was really sweet. But we were still full from the last one so we didn't cut it open. The children could see we were getting ready to leave gathering up our things. And when we were ready to go, they handed back zachs camera and the paints and brushes all cleaned up already. But zach said that they could keep the paints, which was really sweet. So we left with our watermelon, back into our kayaks and drifted back down the river towards our island.

The trip back was nice. Sometimes we paddled, other times we just drifted off down the river the two kayaks beside eachother, still listening to zachs music.

It was really nice.

And me being the smart one, didn't want to spend 8 euro on suncream so I got the 4 euro one instead. Not realizing that it wasn't water resistant, and us kayaking. So lets just say I came back

a little burnt.

That evening we hung out together and saw the sunset. Not much of one and then we headed for dinner. We ran into the Germans and the Norwegian girl, fabian, marie and mirko, they had just arrived that day. They already had dinner so they were going to join us but would meet up later. While we were standing there and Japanese guy was going by and stopped and talked to zach as he had brought out a glow poi with him. They are used for practicing fire poi, which is fire dancing. The Japanese guy was all excited as he had ones as well. We actually had seen him the night before as we were cycling back in the moonlight and from far away the glow poi looked like glow bugs flying around until we got up closer and saw what it was.

But japan had to go that one step further and had fire poi's. Where they are lit with fire. Zach could do it too so they were meeting up after dinner to do some fire dancing.

It turned out to be really cool. They went down to the beach and zach and japan both perform a couple of dances each. We got our own little private show. And the mirko and fabian and marie came down to watch it also. Japan had more moves and was a real show man but I actually liked zach performance better in was more graceful even if he couldn't throw them up in the air. It was a real nice ending to a great time on don det island. It finished with fire dancing. Ha ha

Tags: 4 thousands islands, cycling, don det, facepainting, kayak, moonlight, waterfall




Hey Hon,
all I can say is wow, what adventures you are having. It's really cool that yer meeting loads of other travellers that you can understand!! By the way your tan is looking great, Aoifes is more or less gone at this stage, but dont tell her I said it. I loved the Japanese sing along, you looked great by the way.
U seem to be cycling or mountain climbing or kayaking your gonna be some fit woman by the time ya get back.
I am trying to get into the gym myself but it really is a bit of a struggle. Its bloody freezing over here, but hey anything is better than the rain. We went up north to buy wedding rings and get the photographer but the band is difficult

Take care hon
Trish M

  Trish Maloney Jan 9, 2009 9:57 AM

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