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Why not?

Posted by | Evil Kristos | March 10, 2010 | No Comments

Last night when I was sitting and contemplating I asked myself one question: Did this trip meet any of my expectations? The honest answer to this was: No. I simply never warmed up with Cambodia. I didn’t like the country side and the people I met didn’t do much for me either. I very much liked the guys in Siem Reap but they run a business. Did I meet anyone that did not want to make money from talking to me? The answer is more or less no. If I am honest I did not particularly like Cambodia.

My plan, going back to Phnom Penh and then move on to Thailand did not particularly excite me. It was like giving up and admit to failure. One of the things I recently learned was that getting into Laos got a lot easier. I suddenly had this epiphany. Why not just go into Laos and give it another chance. I still had a good week to go.

I will admit that I did not particularly like Laos six years ago but then I got sick on day one and this certainly didn’t help. And; there was a good chance it had changed since. After all I seem to be the only feeling like this about Laos. All the other people I met seem to like it a lot. I made a decision. Rather than going back to Thailand I’d go to 4000 islands in Laos. I always wanted to check out that place and I was close enough. I threw away the ticket to Phnom Penh I had just bought.

In the morning I went to the bus station and asked for transport to the Laos border. As it happens a van was just about to leave. It was a two hour drive to Stung Treng. There we changed vehicles. I had just sat down when Ray got onto the bus; the guy I had met on the way to Kratie.

He was an interesting fellow to talk so I was quite pleased. We said hello and I asked where he is heading. He said Don Det which was the one island I had kind of picked for myself. We seemed to have a similar taste in places so tis was no real surprise.

He had spoken to a couple who had recommended a place. We decided to travel together once more.

The border crossing was expensive but easy enough. Ray actually had to pay more with his English passport. It was quite amusing how in a way. Every stop at the border required a Dollar. The Cambodians wanted one to stamp the passport out, the Laotian first asked for 30 Dollar for the Visa (35 for an English passport) and the then you go to the next counter where again you had to pay one Dollar.

We then went on to a different bus that took us to Don En where the boats leave for Don Det.

The crossing was quick and easy. We arrived on Don Det just after noon. Once you leave the boat and there is a small, dusty square. There stood a bunch of vehicles that looked like shrunk pickup trucks with benches in the back.

None of the people sitting there approached us so we eventually asked them where the “taxi drivers” were. It turned out the people hanging ou there were the drivers they just couldn’t be arsed to get up. Fair enough.

We asked them if they’d mind and eventually the they told us 2.50 Dollar each and they would drive us. That was expensive but for all we knew it was bit too far to walk and the heat again was brutal.

The place recommended to Ray was the Shangri La. Allegedly it was just before the bridge that linked Don Det with the next island Don Khon. It was a short enough drive but it would have ben a tiny little bit too far to walk indeed. Both our backpacks were kind of heavy and after all we are not 18 anymore (and not that skinned either). We got off at the bridge and followed the signs. After a short walk we arrived at the Shangri La.

It was a small place with only four bungalows but as it happens he had two rooms available. The setting was quite nice so we went for it.

The manager was an American guy and he was obviously absolutely shit faced. We joined him for a couple of beer while we were waiting for the rooms to be ready.

There was no denying. The manager of that place is to be described as “quite a character”. He was stoned and drunk and talked a lot of rubbish. We didn’t mind and in a way enjoyed it.

The guy claimed that he hated Lonely Planet so much that he offered 10 percent discount if you burned yours. Ray though that was rather funny and volunteered his guide book. Ryan – the manager – took the guide book and set it on fire. It didn’t burn particularly well and stank but in a way it felt like a god deed.

Eventually it cooled down a bit and Ray and I took off to grab a bite. Ryan was more or less passed out anyways and his drinking buddy had left as well. We went to a place run by a German guy that was also recommended by the people who had told Ray about the Shangri La. The restaurant was quite alright though.

The food was good and the German guy running it – Lutz – very likable. We both decided that this should be our restaurant of choice during the stay. None of fancied trying the Americans restaurant and Santiphap was conveniently located and chilled out.

Since it had been a long day we went to bed early.

Don Det - Laos

Don Det - view from the Shangri La


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