Stop 27 Ventiane – Don Det / 4000 Islands

Ventiane is the capital of Laos and most people say there is not much to do there, so I decided to take an early bus and just have an afternoon there before heading to the 4000 islands with a night bus.

One Swiss girl was with me on the bus and she is travelling before her next job in another canton. I believe that she is doing something in psychology and has been travelling 3 weeks (?). It is funny that I remembered this conversation as easy going but can’t remember too many details of it. She travelled with an organized tour in Myanmar where she met also a broadway actor who was able to entertain her. There was also someone who has been travelling for many many years (more than 20 I think, but again, details are fading). She stayed in a treehouse in the north of Laos as well which she recommended (zip lining between the trees in order to reach them was particularly cool) but for the 10 days that I have, there is not enough time for me to explore the north as well (but other people have suggested that to me too).

The only thing I visited was the COPE centre. It makes prosthetic legs for victims of the remaining bombs in Laos. The first section of the exhibition tells you that Laos was the most bombed country during the Vietnam war actually because that was the supply lines into Vietnam. I can’t remember the exact numbers but a lot more than what was dropped in Vietnam. The second part consists of stories of different victims and people that got help from the center. It remembers me of that helper in ThaBarWa center who lost his leg due to a bomb.

Back at the bus company, I met 2 UK girls who are also going to Don Det. One looked a bit nordic and has a very beautiful body. But again, the conversation with them seem very typical where it is mostly “I centric” just like the ones I had during the Kalaw trek. It was raining cats and dogs when we were in the pickup van and luckily the rest of the way was more or less covered. I was also told that sleeping buses (not all) in Laos have bed spots for 2 and this was actually what I got. Luckily, during the whole trip, nobody wanted to share it with me. Uff. Otherwise, it is actuallly quite comfortable and I woke up quite rested in Pakse where a smaller bus took us to the boat terminal to go onto the island.

The sleeping bus. (and there was thunder and lightening everywhere when we departed)

There are not a lot of hostels on the island and I chose the Happy Bar Backpackers. As the name suggests and the review revealed as well, it was quite a hippie place. Manni is from UK and has been staying on the island for 7  years or so. Initially he was just travelling there and just got stuck because it is so nice to chill out there. He is easy going and really chills the fuck out. There were also a guy named Chris and some other more-or-less permanent guests over there and they enjoy smoking a joint from time to time (within the same day). Also occasionally (once during my stay), Manni gets a delivery of a tupperware full of mushrooms.

The hostel and the mushrooms. (no i did not try)

At kayaking (again), I met some other people. At breakfast, I got to know Luzi, Sami and Davi. I believe Luzi and Davi are Dutch and Sami tagged along with them in Cambodia. Luzi had this pun which went: Been There, Don Det (lolz). And Davi had a tattoo on the leg for a good friend of his who passed away in an accident. This was the way to remember him with his group of friends. There was a French couple (or friends, not sure) who are travelling in Laos together, but travelling elsewhere after Laos. They seem very easy going and I met them again the next day when I was riding the bike so we spent the day together again. The guy (I think his name was Jo) prefers to practice his English and the girls has worked in Basel as well. On the bike road, we also met some people from French Polynesia. When we were looking for another water fall, we picked up a German student and had dinner together as well. Ah, and the two British girls were at the kayaking tour as well and along other young people as well. I remember once that we needed to help others to put up the kayak onto the truck and you can see exactly who is helping and who is still in the water taking a bath (the men at least).

The night when I came back from the kayaking, I ran into Manni and everyone from the hostel at a billiard place. I stopped for a beer and talked to a petite Aussie girl. She is trying to figure out what she wants to do and ideally become a writer or something like a blogger. Of course she is on budget too and need to see how she can bridge the days without spending much money. This is somewhat typical for the hippie people just trying to get by the days. They seem to not to look into the future or just are justing trying to think about it. This is something that just doesn’t align with my attitude. I prefer to face the problems and running away is just not an option. Sometimes, travelling feels a little bit like running away to me because you are not living the normal life. Also meeting people during this time is such a short termed relationship where you don’t need to invest a lot. If you don’t like someone, if something does not fit, you simply choose other ones or move on by yourself. Life is full of compromises and I still believe, in order to maintain a good relationship, you need to make sacrifices. But (!), what I also learned is that, there is a bottom line which can not be crossed. This brings the topic back to balance. Too much of anything is never good and this is somehow very true in many perspectives of our lives. Ah yah, this was also the night where Chris got drunk pretty early and started to become loud and somewhat of a duche.

There was also topics about weed farms in the US and Canada. There were 2 people in the hostel where on has rented a farm to grow weed and the other one had worked on a weed farm to earn some money. There was also a Turkish animal doctor who is working with horses. I think he had worked in Australia or something and is now heading to another place, or vice versa. Can’t remember …

The last night, it rained heavily and one lightening struck right above our head. You know that was fucking close when the thunder was synchronous. And all the light went out after that … what thunder was really something.

There was also this cook from Tirol who quited his job to travel a bit. The next morning I did not recognize him which made things a bit awkward (for me at least) and he is not a guy with many words. We met again during the return trip to Pakse and actually flew to Bangkok with the same plane.

Oh Bangkok again. I had 5 hours transit time to change from BKK to DMK for my flight to Singapore. I wanted to do another fitting at the tailor but the taxi driver was not the most sincere guy and I think he made a big detour. The traffic was not helping so mid way, I decided to go straight to DMK. (And going on the high ways cost you money and you need to pay that as well)

Some more pictures to the end:

the view from the hostel balkony

small waterfall

big water fall (the biggestin southeast asia)

somewhere on an island in cambodia where we tried to watch some river dolphins. some saw the fins and jaws, i did not see shit

Me, on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Santa Marta, no barber shops open unfortunately.

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