*DON DET ISLAND, LAOS
09:11 AM The longboat suddenly hits land but the sand smooths out the crash and jerks us wide awake. We’ve arrived on Don Det Island. Wow, what a dump, but in a good adventurous way… I suppose you have to be a backpacker to understand. Translation? I love it.
09:29 AM We check into bungalows perched right on the Mekong River for $5 USD a person. This place is older than time but it has a bar and restaurant with great atmosphere, it’s perfect.
10:13 AM Rob and I are already downing our free ice cold Beer Laos at the restaurant waiting for Jenny and Julie. As we joke about how long they’ll take to get ready as it’s been an arduous journey here, they suddenly show up without even changing with beer in their hands. They sit and we eat our sticky rice dishes.
10:51 AM Just next door we rent bicycles for just $1 per person. Looking at the map it appears we can circle the entire island in just an hour or so. We get supplies; water, beer, snacks and sunblock at a shack with a stolen “7-Eleven” sign duct taped on the door made out of sticks… God I love the island life.
11:23 AM This “street” that goes along the river is full of little shops, guesthouses, free roaming live stock and local residences. It’s desolately beautiful and atmospherically tranquil, like the world of an island should be. We keep biking in a single file then Julie suddenly slams on her breaks, causing the 4 of us bump into each other like dominoes…
11:26 AM Before we can ask why she stopped, Julie jumps off her bike and runs to a really fat pink cow with short legs tied to a tree and gives it a hug. As the rest of us get closer, I realize it’s actually a ginormous pig. It must weigh 500lbs. We each pet it like it’s a puppy, because it is cute. I joke saying that it could feed the entire island, Julie slaps me… We continue biking.
11:48 AM We cross a bridge and leave Don Det and enter Don Khon to head for Li Phi Waterfalls.
12:34 PM I’ve never seen a waterfall like Li Phi, it’s not just a vertical drop over a cliff, it’s as if it’s a flash flood taking over what’s suppose to be dry land. It’s hypnotic and doesn’t seem logical. We sit on a rock side by side letting our legs hang over the fall and enjoy a beer.
12:54 PM We walk a bit down to a tiny beach and go for a swim in the cool and clean but highly sedimented freshly waterfallen water. Sure beats sea water.
1:21 PM Trying to get back to Don Det, we get lost, despite how tiny both islands are because there are no official roads or clear signs. So we rest in the middle of a flawless rice paddy and sit in silence admiring the lostness. Then Jenny suggests we go kayaking to seek the elusive Irawaddy dolphins. We keep on cycling…
2:32 PM Almost back to Don Det Village, we see the giant pig again. Julie stops, hugs it then we go.
5:19 PM It’s surprising how lively this island gets in the evening as we walk to Paradise Restaurant for dinner. These 2 local Laos boys no more than 12 years old roll up on us on their tricked out tricycles and start flirting with Julie and Jenny. Rob and I start laughing but I must admit, they got game.
5:42 PM We all have a variation of a curry dish this restaurant is known for and it’s unanimously splendid, especially with the flow of Lao style Mojitos coming our way with Bob Marley hits setting the tone.
6:39 PM Instead of hitting up a party tonight, we decide to go to The Last Resort and watch a movie at the Open Air Cinema over a bonfire and some BBQ.
7:15 PM As we look for seats, the movie has already started but I recognize it instantly, it’s ‘The Beach‘ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which incidentally also played on a rooftop bar while I was in Koh Phi Phi.
[All photography shot with a Hitcase Pro equipped iPhone.]