I had heard a lot of people get stuck on Don Det. Sometimes, taking the tiny ferry from the mainland to the island and not leaving again for months.
I quickly discovered why upon my arrival. I had planned on being on the island in southern Laos for only a few days before heading on to Don Khon and then farther south to Cambodia.
But it my little hut on Mekong ($5 a night!) was too irresistible. After six weeks of bouncing from city to city, it felt good to finally settle down for a while. My days were filled up with….well, doing pretty much nothing at all. For the most part, I only left my hammock to go get food or to swim in the river.
I had planned to write quite a bit while on the islands. I figured I would have plenty of time to even get a chunk done of my manuscript.
But, alas, I got absolutely no work done.
I was too consumed with gorging myself on reading books and listening to the French guy in the hut next door play guitar while I watched the sunset over the river.
As my Dutch travel mate taught me: Zwaar Leven. Tough Life.
The Downsides of Don Det
The backpacker culture – I know many people come to Don Det for the backpacker/stoner culture, but that was not exactly what I was looking for. Not that I usually mind being around backpackers, because I am one after all, but these backpackers seemed to be a different kind altogether. At least 50 percent of the day they seemed to be high. But, worse then that, they seemed to look down on me for my lack of consumption.
Food – There is little variety on Don Det and most of the food I ate was, at best, flavorless.
Unrelenting heat – Almost every day around midday I would puke. My body was not into the intense heat. And the only relief was to jump in the Mekong, as I soon figured out that it was only thing stopping me from losing my lunch.
The Upsides of Don Det
Good running paths – my running routes on both Don Det and Don Khon made for much easier running than in the city. With a lack of cars and people, it was easy to run on the smooth dirt paths. It was nice not to have to worry about getting run over the whole time.
Hammock time – enough said.
I did end up moving to Don Khon via boat, just for a few days. It was much quieter there. Also, the locals seem to be a lot friendlier, maybe because they don’t see as many tourists.
It was a good location to explore the waterfall from and also take a dolphin watching tour. However, accommodation there is a little more expensive, enough to keep me from staying much longer. Plus, I was anxious to move on to Cambodia.