Day 129, Saturday 12 May, 2012, Pakse – Don Det
Ok – scene set here… I am sitting on my bed in a Mekong riverside bungalow on the island of Don Det in the far south of Laos. The bungalow has a light and a fan and a mosquito net over the bed. There is no power outlet and the bed takes up most of the space in the room. I do have half a bottle of whisky and will have the occasional nip, though I have had a great meal and a couple of beers with the four other guests in this guesthouse. It is 11.18 (right now) and there is some moderately loud old old school electronica coming from the owners place, sounds vaguely Orb’ish or Tangerine Dream maybe, there is lightening outside, but it is not raining, so yeah – it is weird but kinda cool.
Right – on to the day. In the download frenzy the night before last I grabbed series one of Sherlock and after posting last night I watched the first episode in my room – wow, it was really good ! I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, so a modernised version with a great cast and a crisp as all heck script – I was a convert. Will have a few Sherlock sessions I suspect.
The night was a bit cooler than the last couple so i managed a wee bit of sleep, though I was up early and off to the local cafe for 7.30. I grabbed a couple of coffees and some breakfast foods and took the ten minute walk to Pakse hospital. Dani was pretty much coma’d when I got there so I ditched the food, took a coffee and wandered back to the cafe for more coffee and my own breakie – I should mention the coffee in Laos is just awesome : ) sorry Vietnam, but theirs is better. I had a wee lie down and sauntered back up to the hospital at 10.00.
After a wee bit of shagging around and hunting down the right people Dani was released just before 11.30. She has to go back in a couple of days and will have to really look after her foot. Her bill for the stay was sooooooooooooooooo much less than what I get nailed for when I was sick in Hong Kong, in fact if it was me, I probably wouldn’t even claim it on my insurance. But then she had no meals apart from what we delivered, and minimal care – so different situation I guess.
Once she was safely back in the hostel, and at least able to tap into the backpackers coming through for assistance, and with Mike and Laura dropping by in a day or so, i was happy to move on. I packed my bag, grabbed a coffee, said my farewells and took a (now I know I was ripped off) expensive tuk tuk to the bus station to get a bus south to the 4000 Islands area.
The bus is a open air covered truck with bench seats, not a bus bus, but luxury compared to a Burmese pick up – even with the sacks of rice up the aisle so no one had leg room – and the Laotian idea of full has nothing on Mynamar either !
At I wasnt on this one, I am wondering if the four motoribikes are the transport for the four fridges !
The ride was interesting, it was supposed to be two half to three hours, but took four – I discovered that the bus that left an hour after mine arrived at the ferry before me ! I think I have some kind of bad luck thing going on. Sadly we passed what was pretty obviously a fatal vehicle accident on the way, the driver of the van was still in the remains of his vehicle – life is hard and medical facilities rare down here. We also drove through a large electrical storm, which had some of the Laotians on the bus in some state of concern/fear – i was the only westerner on the bus.
I was starting to get A – frustrated, B – pissed off and C – concerned as the trip dragged on, the bus was limping a bit at the end and we started to visit obscure villages to drop off hardware and I was wondering if I was going to make it to the ferry in time to get to Don Det Island as there are limited options for sleeping on the mainland side. We arrived just on 5.00, it was raining and I took a hurried walk down to the wharf where I vacantly stared at some mud for a while before spotting what looked liked some western legs getting onto a canoe off in the distance. I hurried in that direction and was welcomed with a big wave and realised I was probably just getting one of the last boats over. I joined an Aussie and Belgian couple (who had been on the 2:00 PM bus). Our boat driver is Mike a German guy who has been living here for a while and runs a guesthouse with his Laos wife (and may or may not feature in more posts, but I am in his bungalow tonight). The five us checked out some of the guesthouses around here and decided to stay in Mikes for at least the first night. It is dirt cheap, with rudimentary bungalows on the edge of the Mekong, however he has a restaurant which was the big appeal as it was getting late and Don Det is a basic island, to say the least and the walk to the main part of town was twenty minutes.
I can say the food was outstanding ! – I had a pumpkin burger – a pumpkin based vege pattie with (OMG) mashed potato – it was devine, and I mean so so good. Mashed spud – I missed you : ) We all had great food and chatted over a couple of beers till 11.00 or so and went to bed. Where I took a photo of my feet in the mossie net and wrote this blog post.
PS. My go at being vaguely intrepid by catching a local bus to Don Det while successful in that i arrived safely, took two hours longer than an air conned mini-van plus cost a fair bit more !!! DAMN