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Stop. Hammock time.

U can’t touch this.

sunny 32 °C
View Somewhere Over The Urals. on stuartfinch's travel map.

After all the Christmas and New Year festivities, as well as full days touring temples, we both felt we were in need of a holiday. This may sound strange as many of you will regard this whole trip as one long holiday but, you know, we needed a week or so of doing nothing.

So we headed to Laos.

Known for its laid back atmosphere, cheap rooms, sunsets and not much else. I am surprised that 4000 islands isn’t on more backpacker itineraries. Just over the border from Cambodia, here the Mekong slows to split into numerous channels creating thousands of small sandy islands, most of which are uninhabited or unvisited.

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We arranged transport direct from our Kratie hotel to Don Det, the liveliest and most frequently visited of the islands. Despite the only proof that we had paid our way was a note scribbled on a scrap of paper, this ‘ticket’ seemed to work on all four forms of transport that we took. A seemingly, “unlikely to work” chain of transport took our group of eight international tourists close to and finally across the border. With the usual baffling array of extra charges passed to the guards on both sides of the border and a few stops to deliver some white envelopes to men in brown uniforms, we reached the town of Nakasong, a single stretch of concreted road, lined with shops, that led to a small wooden jetty and crates of empty beer bottles stacked taller than me.

I felt a little concerned that perhaps now that ‘the party is over’ in Vang Vieng that instead the party had moved here. I wondered whether we should really have aimed for the quieter and more sedate Don Khon. And as we piled on board the longtail boat that would take us to Don Det it was clear that some of our fellow travellers shared the similar worries.

Upon landing at Don Det, the newly arrived are presented with a choice – you could either walk down the eastern ‘sunrise’ or western ‘sunset’ side of the island. With the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, guesthouses and bungalows found at the northern tip of the island, both sides offered accommodation in a range of standards and prices to suit all. The general agreement was that most of us were going to head down the quieter ‘sunrise’ side of the island.

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There really is little to do here, except to lie in a hammock. Which is exactly what we did for six days. I read three books, finally finishing the Dostoyevsky that I had intended to read whilst crossing Siberia, caught up with emails as well as completing photobooks of our journeys in China, Vietnam and Cambodia. We hired bikes one day to cycle around the neighbouring island just to make sure that we raised out heart-rates above 40bpm. We even moved to the sunset side as it was clearly better and not at all busy or noisy.

Our next stop? Tad Lo. Here you can lie in a different hammock next to a waterfall. And if you can really be bothered (and I mean really) you could always take a short walk up the valley but really, why? Laos is about taking time.

Stop. Hammock time.

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Posted by stuartfinch 02:09 Archived in Laos

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Comments

Laos. Nothing. One of the best places on the planet. Don't try too hard now.

by Alex Bicknell

And, of course...

My, my, my music hits, so hard. Makes me say "Oh, my Lord"

by Alex Bicknell

Quite tempted to get some parachute pants...!

by stuartfinch

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