Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I stepped out onto the balcony of our bungalow. A channel of the Mekong River flowed lazily by before me under a beautiful blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds. There was hardly another sound besides the calm sound of the water, and as I looked around I suddenly remembered where I was.
We had arrived on Don Khone in Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) in Laos the day before and spent the afternoon relaxing in the hammock on our balcony. I could have easily done the same again today, but it was the middle of the wet season so there was no way that I was going to waste a beautiful fine morning like this.
After a hearty local breakfast of rice soup and strong Lao coffee, we headed down the road to see a lady about renting a couple of bicycles for the day. She gave us two bicycles for 20,000 kip ($2.60).
With our backpacks in the baskets on the front of our bikes, we began cycling along the main dirt road of the island, passing by houses, little restaurants and the odd cow and chicken through the main village before entering farmland.
Si Phan Don is such a picturesque and peaceful part of Laos, and cycling along the dirt roads of the island of Don Khone was very relaxing, and a great time to just be in silence and take in everything around us.
We continued peddling through the countryside and made our way towards Somphamit Waterfall.
Si Phan Don (which translates to 4000 islands) gets its name from the Mekong River splitting into a maze of channels that cover a width of about 4km. It is also here that the entire Mekong suddenly drops in altitude, dropping over a series of low rocky waterfalls. On Don Khone, the easiest of these waterfalls to visit is Somphamit.
After paying our entry, we parked our bikes at the entrance and wandered along the path through the trees towards the sound of roaring water. It wasn’t long until we could see the raging brown waters of the Mekong tumbling down a whole series of low waterfalls, kind of like some really intense rapids.
It is here that you can really see the true power of the amount of water that is in the Mekong River, and this is only a small section of it. It really is something to see.
Our journey around Don Khone took us further into the lush green countryside where trees and farmland were much more common than houses or people. We found ourselves cycling down narrow dirt paths to little Mekong River beaches where unattended wooden boats sat pulled up on the sand, while chickens scratched around the crude bamboo huts where local farmers and fishermen live.
The main road led us to the very southern tip of the island where the Mekong River acts as the border between Laos and Cambodia, and boats launch off to take tourists out to see the small pod of Irrawaddy Dolphins that inhabit this stretch of the river.
It felt like we had been riding all day when we finally got back to our bungalow, and my hammock was looking pretty inviting again. We had definitely earned ourselves a couple of cold Beer Lao’s.