Today we woke up at 5:30 to the sound of the townâ€™s public loudspeaker (many Vietnamese cities have news, public information and music pumped out of these speakers at dawn) and a competing rooster. We took a morning stroll to the other side of town and were greeted by many smiling kids and Chau Docâ€™s very friendly population. We were the only tourists in sight.
One of Laosâ€™s treasures which for the moment seems to be off the beaten path for large masses of tourists is Si Phan Don near the countryâ€™s southern border with Cambodia. We made the journey to Si Phan Don from Luang Prabang in the North by flying to Vientiane in the evening, staying overnight and flying from there to Pakse early the next morning. We then continued by bus to the main island of Don Khong. Our next destination was Siem Reap, Cambodia and, since I personally dislike backtracking while traveling, we wanted to find a way to cross the border and continue on by land or by river without taking the bus back to Pakse for the direct flight to Siem Reap.
After getting very little sleep last night we exited the bus and grabbed a coffee before being picked up by another bus on the way to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The journey lasted no less than 30 hours and weâ€™ve just now arrived in Siem Reap. After trying some recommended hotels that were fully-booked we finally found a hotel for the next few nights. We also secured a tuk-tuk driver to take us around to Angkor Wat and other sites tomorrow and the next day. Weâ€™ve just finished our first real meal since breakfast at the guesthouse back in Laos and it was damn good!
We left Luang Prabang Tuesday evening and were about to catch a flight to Vientiane when the power went out at the airport. Now, call me petty, but I think but I like to have my airports all wired 24/7. While I was entertaining all the possible catastrophes of this little episode, all of the airport staff, vendors and tuk tuk drivers were leaving for the day. It was, after all, past 8pm already! After a small delay, we finally took off to Vientiane where we spent a short night in a deserted strange looking hotel. Very early the next morning, we caught a flight to Pakse, the main getaway to the south of Laos. This time there was no power failure at the airport but rather a HUGE airplane size roach walking around the â€œsecurity checkâ€ area.
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Woke up very early this morning to pack our bags, eat breakfast at the guesthouse, settle our bill (Reasonable! $32 for 2 days of lodging, meals, laundry and bicycle rental), say goodbye to our hosts and take the familyâ€™s boat to the port town of Ban Nakasang. We then took a series of mini-buses and air-conditioned buses to cross into Cambodia on our way to Siem Reap. The journey included breakdowns of two different buses and ended up with the passengers doing an in-bus, roadside sleepover 50km north of Phnom Penh.
After 19 hours of travel from Luang Prabang by plane, bus, boat and tuk tuk we finally arrived in Don Khon – an island in Si Phan Don, in Southern Laos. The island is a small piece of paradise dotted with bungalows and restaurants by the Mekong River, featuring amazing sunsets. The island only has electricity for a few hours during the day. It is quiet beyond belief and for the first time in what feels like years-we can see a sky full of stars.