|Don Khong, Loas
As it heads toward the southern end of Laos, the Mekong River adopts a wide berth (more than 4 km!) and the shallows rise to become Si Phan Don -Four Thousand Islands. Many of the islands are no more than clumps of trees and grass, but they are speckled throughout the river in every direction. We chose to stay on the largest -and likely the most comfortable island of Don Khong.
Island mentality is the same in Laos as it is the world over -very relaxed and laid back. Being detatched from the mainland and accessable only by boat translates into much less worry, so we were happy to arrive. Our island accomodation was approaching some of the best we found in Laos -spacious room, hot shower, big bed, and powerful air conditioner, and the food was delicious! That night Ann had a chicken ginger and I opted for a fish coconut curry that were both delectable. Better yet, just as our meals arrived, the full moon peaked over the distant horizen and started to glimmer on the tranquil Mekong waters. How romantic!
The next day we took a boat downriver to witness some of the fury of the Mekong. Here, near the border with Cambodia, the river plunges 5 to 15 meters in a fury of white water. We were unable to get the broad perspective of the entire width, but we were able to witness two incredible spots, Tat Somphamit and Khon Phapheng. Tat Somphamit even offered some relief from the heat in large eddies downstream from the falls. Khon Phapheng is said to be the largest falls in Southeast Asia -measured by volume no doubt, and they were quite a sight. More like large rapids than waterfalls, but impressive none-the-less.
We had the luck of the Irish on this St. Patrick's Day, and found ourselves a true Irishman with whom to share drinks! Paul -who lives in Scotland, but travels with an Irish passport didn't even know it was St. Patrick's Day until Ann reminded him. (She reminded just about everybody we met that day.) Still, he was more than happy to raise a few glasses to the Irish. Too bad we couldn't find any Guiness!
Bear Harbor had a bit of a scare on the island. We had left him to guard the hotel room as we went on our boat ride. (I was also afraid that he might try to jump in the Mekong and grab a few fish -bears like to do that.) Back in the room though, the cleaning lady took such a liking to him and his many bracelets, that she grabbed one for herself! (She's lucky he didn't bite her arm off!) We might have overlooked it, or thought that it had fallen off somewhere, but in her fun, the lady also moved one of the bracelets from his arm to his neck. This was so wildly out of place that we knew something was amiss. The next morning we talked to the hotel owner, who talked to his wife, who talked to the lady, and soon we had the bracelet back with an apology. (Sadly, I think this is one of the only times someone has been in to clean the room, and there's an incident. Fortunately we always secure our bags, so there was nothing to worry about with them.)
Our relaxing days on Don Khong were rapidly coming to close -as was our time in Laos. Next stop is just down the river to Cambodia.
Movin' right along, we're truly birds of a feather
We're in this together
And we know where we're goin'
Movie stars with flashy cars and life with the top down
We're storming the big town
Yeah, storm is right - should it be snowin'?