Life on Don Det . . . no worries

Due to the Lao Lao banishing my perception of time last night, I didn’t actually crawl into my bungalow until gone 1am. So my constructive day I had planned went out the window! Instead of hiring a bicycle and cycling down to Don Khon and some waterfalls, I joined Sarah for a late breakfast at our guesthouse and we both took it in turns to do some involuntary babysitting. Whenever the lady disappeared to serve some prospective guests or fetch some drinks, she clumsily placed her 4 month old grandson on either mine or Sarah’s laps! He was quite amusing : he kept trying to eat the table or Sarah’s shoulder, but i was still rather relieved when our food arrived and he was taken off our hands.

Once i’d had breakfast I settled myself down in my incredibly comfortable hammock and began to continue my reading of “First They Killed My Father”; my hammock encasing me like a pea in a warm and cosy pod. Suffering from lack of sleep after last night’s entertainment, I woke up a couple of hours later, feeling rather disorientated, the book open on the page where I left off, lying neatly on my stomach.

I forced myself to roll out of the hammock and walk down to the beach (which is a good 20 minutes along the river from Mr Tho’s). I woke myself up with some liquid refreshment and a swim in the sea before spending the remainder of the afternoon finishing Loung Ung’s novel. It’s a gripping, moving, disturbing tale, and Loung Ung really forces her readers to experience the mass murder, starvation and disease that claimed the lives of 4 members of her family. It’s heartbreaking to learn that a child of not even 8 years old has experienced so much sadness and pain, and been witness to so much suffering and death, but it’s inspiring to learn – through Loung Ung’s experiences as a child growing up during the Khmer Rouge overthrow – about the strength and indomnitability of the human spirit : “somehow, one way or another, we find ways to stay alive.”

This evening I met Martin again at Khampong for a meal and some more rounds of Shithead. He’d retrieved the card that catapuled itself over the side of the restaurant veranda last night and down on to the beach, so we had a full deck once again. The food on this island is not the fastest in arriving, so after I waited about half an hour for the watermelon shake i’d ordered, Martin joked that he’d get his food (which he’d ordered well after mine) before mine arrived. No prizes for guessing who was happily munching on his chinese vegetables and rice whilst I was still fighting back the hunger pangs!
It’s part of the laid back attitude and atmosphere that permeates through the island of Don Det : “no cars, no electricity, no worries . . . “ (Lonely Planet Laos). Ok, so there is a small amount of electricity now, which is supplied by generators. However, the generators are clearly overloaded and the power frequently shuts down, resulting in the majority of your evening being spent by candlelight.
Photo is of a selection of bungalows along the Mekong, Don Det.

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