dek & i made it to siem reap, after traveling for a grueling 15 hours by boat and bus.
i last posted and we were in vientiane spending the day before heading off for pakse by sleeper bus. i can officially report that the sleeper bus was amazing! we actually slept and the ride was smooth and i woke up just to see the sunrise as we entered pakse. right when we arrived we were swarmed by tuk-tuk drivers trying to take us to a hotel, but we planned to go straight to tad lo, so we found an air-conditioned mini van for 70,000 kip total (which was like $9) that took us there in half the time that a bus would. we arrived to tad lo and found our guesthouse on the waterfall, it was soooo pretty. they were cleaning the room when we arrived so we sat outside overlooking the waterfall and had breakfast & coffee. after we put our bags in our room we set out to find the biggest of the 3 waterfalls in the area, called tad suong. we walked the 10km there and back, but the scenery was amazing. you pass villages, huts in the middle of banana tree fields & children playing. it was a fun walk. we got to the suong village and it was like what you can imagine the poorest village being. there is reddish orange dust everywhere, their houses are literally shacks made out of wood, bamboo and leaves, there are pigs, dogs, ducks and sheep running around everywhere and the women bathing in the nearby river and children playing around, hassling the tourists that come through to see the waterfall. we hiked up to the viewpoint, taking an apple break on the way, and it was breath-taking. we were so high up! then we hiked back down, stopped to dip our feet in the freezing waterfall water, went back through the village and then walked the 10km back to tad lo. the walk back was hard, we were tired from hiking and it was hot. we tried hitch-hiking a few times but either they wouldn't stop or they didnt understand us, even though we offered to give them some money. but oh well. when we got back to tad lo, which i must emphasize is a 1-street town, we found a place to eat and had a meal rice with vegetables, noodles with vegetables, 2 beers & a watermelon shake all for $6. the waitress working there said she was from spain, our guess was she fell in love with the owner and decided to stay because it seemed she lived there. right after taking our order she just walked off and we had no idea where she was going, then she came back 10 minutes later drenched in all of her clothes because she had just bathed in the river. anyways, when we got back to our bungalow we were so tired (&dirty &smelly!) we said we would just lay down for a few minutes and that turned into 3 hours. we woke up for dinner at our guesthouse by the waterfall and under the colorful lanterns that hung from the giant trees. it was such a fun night.
the next day we woke up & took a "local bus" to pakse, this bus didnt have AC & it made like 20 stops (for gas, to drop people off/ load more people on, etc) and we finally made it around 11 am. we had booked a night in a "nice hotel" for $25/night because we just really wanted to feel comfortable and clean and have a tv in the room :) & it was sooo worth it! the room was so nice and we took the day to just chill before we set off to the 4,000 islands the next morning. we wandered around, found an internet cafe, skyped our parents, ate & went to bed early.
the next morning we set off for don khon, an island in the 4,000 islands area of laos. it's not an island like you are probably thinking, but its an island in the sense that its a piece of land surrounded by water, by river water. we didnt really find any nice beach to chill on, but our bungalow balcony served us just that purpose. we stayed at a nice guesthouse in a bungalow for 3 nights. the first day we rented bikes and rode around for hours on don khon & also the island next to it that you can get to by crossing a bridge, its called don det. but on don khon we found ourselves at the southern point of the island and went to see the irrawaddy dolphins. there are only a few of them left in the world and they live in the mekong river (it's a huge river!) in between the lao/cambodian border. we saw the dolphins from a distance, but they were shy and didnt like to jump out, but the experience was fun. the second day on don khon we literally did nothing but relax, read, eat and sleep. it was so nice to take it slow and have nothing on the agenda. the next morning we left for cambodia and here we are. today we also took the day to just chill and scope out the city, we are going to the night market later & tomorrow is our day of tourism. we hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the temples and he will drive us around each temple and wait for us and everything for like $18. he also agreed to take us at sunrise, at 5 am, for an extra $2 to we can be there bright and early and feel the magic of angkor wat.
view from the restaurant at our guesthouse in tad lo
the beautiful tad lo waterfall
little piggies under a truck
the road we walked down to get to tad suong
the bridge that crosses the river into the suong village
"road" to suong village & tad suong waterfall
little hungry piggy
the waterfall was huge, even though there was not much water, it was still an amazing sight
little vegetable patches;
i saw onion, lettuce and dill
a cold beer (or two!) after a long day of walking and hiking
our nice room in pakse, complete with flat screen tv & crisp, white sheets
the view out our window.
the view of the river from our bungalow in don khon (4,000 islands)
our little bungalow.
we loved that balcony!
such a nice place.
we stayed at pan's bungalows & i would highly recommend them!
this is what total relaxation looks like :)
view from river-front restaurant @ lunch
the best fried rice w/vegetables of the whole trip so far!!!
off to see some irrawaddy dolphins
they were hard to see because they were far (we couldn't get any closer with the boat because we would have crossed into cambodian territory)
water buffalo were everywhere!
us biking around don khon
this is what some of the homes look like.
on stilts, made of wood, simple with roosters out front.
a nice place for lunch on don det
little boy "driving" the boat
the pretty, shaded path on don det island where we biked around
i love this picture; its from don khon
yes, that little boy straight up monkeyed up that palm tree!
hungry for lunch
the morning we left for cambodia; our last meal in laos of yummy veggie omlets!