Friday, July 11, 2008

Si Phan Don

If you come to Si Phan Don, you had better be ready to relax. Because there isn't much else to do here among the "1,000 islands" that fringe the border between Cambodia and Laos. But, this remoteness, this detachment from the hustle and bustle of modern life, is exactly why travelers come here and why many find themselves delaying their departure day after day, until they finally run out of kip and are forced to make their way to a town with an ATM.

Like emeralds glistening in the warm sun, land masses of varying shapes and sizes emerge from the milky Mekong River (along with the occasional bathing water buffalo). During the rainy season, many of the islands disappear, but in the dry season, they appear once again, like old familiar friends. The three largest islands are inhabited, including the two we visited, Don Dhet and Don Khon. Don Dhet and Don Khon have no electricity and no cars, and when you step off the narrow long boat you've hired from the mainland, it feels like you've stepped back in time.

Our day would start when we awoke to the sounds of children playing in the Mekong River that slowly flowed beneath our hut. We'd enjoy a lazy breakfast of rice soup and fresh fruit and then watch the local men expectantly throw out their fishing nets while their wives, mothers and daughters waded out into the river to wash their families' clothes. If we felt ambitious, we'd rent bikes and ride beneath the shade of palm trees to the islands' biggest waterfall, Tat Samphamit, passing over an elegant arched railway bridge built and long abandoned by the French. We would greet each evening by taking position in our hammocks and drinking a Beer Lao as we watched the red sun dipped slowly behind horizon.

I think this is what is meant by the word "idyllic". Thanks to Chris and Lani for so highly recommending this stop over!

1 comment:

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