Don Deth, one of the many islands situated at the southern part of Laos, is a place that only provides the basis – nothing more but it definitely cant’t get any lesser!
One can easily get quite frustrated by the laid-back lifestyle initially, but if you’re willing to change your mindset, this is a place where you can truly rest and relax.
Most of the guesthouses on the island overlook the Mekong River and cost only 15,000kip (around SGD 2.30; kip is the basic unit of currency in Laos) per night, so I wasn’t surprised that besides a queen-size bedframe with a thin layer of mattress on ti, there wasn’t anything else in the room! Luckily, a bed would suffice for me, so that didn’t bother me much.
Don Deth is an ideal place to tame the restless as there’re only a handful of distractions. It also suits those who don’t want to fuss over a mind-boggling array of attractions.
Besides having a drink at one of the restaurants, patronizing a cybercafe, travelers may choose to lounge in hammocks outside their rooms for leisurely read or indulge in some quiet reflection during the day.
On the other hand, tour operators do offer day tours to the Khone Pha Pheng waterfall, which is described as the largest cascade in Southeast Asia. With its 15-metre high and one-kilometre wide rock formation, Khone Pha Pheng offers impressive views as the usually calm flow of the Mekong roars through its narrow gorges.
Most travelers prefer traversing the rocky paths on bikes to bring their exploration of its alternative charm to dizzying heights (pun intended). Others choose to travel on foot, crossing a link bridge to discover the neighbouring Don Khong.
A streak of bravado and gungho zeal had me following suit in cycling but I nearly dashed into one the padi fields! I then convinced myself it’s probably better to take a stroll to, literally, experience more tranquility instead.
During my two-day stay, showers of rain descended punctually at 3p.m before tailing off in the evening, leaving the weather refreshingly cool, With an MP3 and a drink in hand, the cosiness of lying on a swinging hammock just crescendoed to a blissful nap.
While generators make up the primary electrical source here, it’s lights off from 10p.m till dawn as the supply grinds to a halt. Does this signal an early retirement for the night? No way! It’s even clearer without the lights!
As starry skies started to manifest, this perfect opportunity for me to behold what I didn’t get to see in Singapore became a cherished draw when night fell. Occasionally, I would have the privilege of having some stray canine buddies joining me in a whimsical session of stargazing. The hectic life back home made this the heavenly respite that I’d been seeking.
In typical Singaporean fashion, I worked out the sums studiously in an effort to balance my dollars and sense. Gasping at my tally, I realized that $200 was all it took to barter for a reasonably comfortable life on the island!
Of course, this was only as momentary and fleeting as a dream – one that ended upon my departure from Don Deth. All I can do now is to conceive of another idyllic spot for my next trip …
Article published in Metta News No.36