Si Phan Don. 4000 Islands.

If you are looking for somewhere different to go to than the standard tour of Thailand, then ready yourself for the real gem of Asia; Laos.

I have in fact made an article on this beauty of a country already on Buzzfeed if you fancy a gander. But to really delve down deep into the beauty of this country I thought I would make a post on it, several posts actually, starting in the south with this one;

The 4000 Islands / Si Phan Don:

These islands, that are dotted over the widened Mekong River should not be over looked if you are planning a visit to this beautiful country. There are three main islands to visit, Don Det, Don Khon and Don Khong. Safe to say that the lifestyle on all three islands can be summed up with the term “laid back.”

This is the place to be if you were looking to get away from all the ridiculous luxuries that are now “needed” and to just enjoy life for the simple pleasures. Not to say that luxuries are not available – but you just have to pay a fair bit more for it (relatively – more like £5-10 a night to the standard £2), and if I am honest it takes away from the sheer tranquility and simplicity of it all. (Although ironically free wifi is more widely available on the islands than it is in London)

Our days were started when the cockerel sounded at dawn from beneath our stilted bungalow. He was the perfect alarm clock as by that point it had become too hot in our little wooden room, so we would sleepily shift out to our porch hammocks as the sun would rise over the river. There we would snooze and read until our hunger finally grabbed our attention.

 

The people that live here are the definition of self sourcing. The same family would run a farm, own accommodation and run a restaurant. You were as likely to cross paths with a piglet or a chicken en route to the bathroom as you were to meet your waitress with your food.

You could quite happily sit back in a restaurant overlooking the river for the entire day,  just chatting to fellow travellers, conversing with the locals, trying the local cuisine (larp) and making friends with the restaurant’s numerous pets.

 

Or you could just as easily relax on the small section of beach, as long as you don’t mind sharing the waters…

Though, there are more “active” activities. Tubing down river is a popular venture of all the travellers that come here, the slow stream means that it is a great way to see the island, and see the locals as they are. The best thing that I saw, was a local man go down to the river edge with his children and wash their hair with shampoo, he then turned to his pig, yes his actual pig and in turn start washing and shampooing it’s head. It was singularly the best event I have ever witnessed.

To be honest the pigs in general were very friendly.

 

 

There is a bridge that connects the two main islands together meaning that you are free to explore both with readily available bicycles.

There is so much to explore and find on the islands, making you get up from your hammock worth while, heck even sometimes you even get your own personal furry guide.

 

 

 

Something that we noticed when staying in Si Phan Don, is that you become acutely aware of how sheltered we are; particularly when growing up, by contrast the children here were so full of surprises. They could speak English as well as their own language by the age of 8. The boys were taught how to fish and the girls were taught how to not only cook but also to farm and both were taught how to wait tables. They were incredible. The most surprising example was upon entering a restaurant and finding there to be no adult around, but just an 8 year old girl, who supplied us with drinks and insisted she take our order and started up the stove as she waited for her mother to come back with some groceries. We just sat in awe of the little girl, who then resumed to playing once her mother returned. I think by contrast when I was 8 I had been off my stabilisers on my bike for about a year. That was my skill set complete.

The simplicity of life here makes you question everything about life in a big city. Your days cannot get more idealistic than this.

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