Tag Archives: si phan don

Swimming Lessons

17 Mar

Field of young rice

Almost as beautiful as under the Mekong

When it comes to swimming, the Mekong (at least in the dry season), is the don. And the swimming off Don Det, in Si Phan Don, Laos, really vaut le voyage.

There’s a tiny – I think artificially enhanced – sand beach off one corner of the island, with islets at the most beautiful range of distances.

The depth shelves off so fast you can dive from a catamaran moored on the shore, yet, unlike the ocean, there’s no turbulence or drag to go with the drop off, and the decline is smooth, not shelved. Continue reading

Messing About in Boats — Part 3

17 Mar

We’d clearly got lucky with our choice of stopping places the day before, because my firm belief that hardly any village in Laos will be too small to have someone selling small-ticket items like Lao-style crisps and various liquids from out of their house is comprehensively proved wrong.

By lunchtime, we are out of pop. We are low on drinking water, and what we have is finest boiled Mekong, with a slightly kippered flavour and the odd brown and lurking strand. Plus I gave our last pack of Lao-style crisps to one of Eli’s grandkids. Continue reading

Messing About in Boats – Part 2

17 Mar

It is pretty much a given, in rural South-East Asia, that falang (and, I guess, locals too) in need of a bed for the night will eventually find someone prepared to put them up.

So, as the sunset pink fades from the Mekong, the night fishermen come out and we moor our increasingly sodden skiff on a promising-looking stretch of bank on another substantial island which does not appear on our map, there is no hint of the Straw Dogs about the encroaching dark. It’s just an adventure. Continue reading

Messing About in Boats – Part 1

17 Mar

Z's painting of sunset of the Mekong

Sunset over the Mekong...

They don’t call Si Phan Don Four Thousand Islands for nothing. At this time of year, with the Mekong nine or ten feet below its monsoon peak, this jade-green archipelago in the deepest south of Laos is, as Z observed, more like Four Million Islands than Four Thousand, and all the more beautiful for it.

Our plan for the last four days, and I use the term extremely loosely, was to rent a kayak on Don Khong, the largest of the islands, stock up with some basics and a decent map, then amble gently downriver, stopping overnight at whatever village would have us, to Don Det, the most touristed of the islands, and perhaps from there to a safe vantage point over the local waterfalls. Continue reading