LAOS: Third New Country in 10 days.

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

If I had to do it over again, I would have spent a few more days in Siem Reap or found another city beside Phnom Penh. As it was, I hot-footed it out of there after one day. I had taken the all-night bus from Siem Reap, and decided that a  little levity was needed after the Killing Fields, the War Relics Museum in Saigon, and the recent debacle in Paris.


Overnight Bus – Siem Reap to Phnom Penh


The Killing Fields Museum – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Time for some beautiful surroundings that surely the 4000 Islands of Laos would be able to handle easily. After a dusty and arduous 8-hour bus ride and border crossing, we piled into a cramped tuk-tuk, and made our way to the boat dock to catch the last boat to Don Det. There was just enough room for the lot of us and our backpacks on the cramped vessel. It was just a ten-minute ride in the kind of dark that give the stars their best showcase, but the peaceful reverie was threatened by the fear of sinking with our belongings.

Thankfully my lodging was steps from the dock, and the Little Eden lived up to its name. It’s clearly the go-to place on Don Det since I was given an upgrade as they were unable to supply me with the cheaper room that I had booked. Dinner was complete salvation after the day’s culinary deprivation.

Laos – Jan. 13th.-28th. 2015


Don Det Island

The island is set up in two zones on a narrow main street in the North and South end of the island. Guest Houses, quick markets, restaurants, and tour agencies line both sides of the street in these areas, and there are also places to rent bicycles and motorbikes.

The following morning I had the misfortune of renting a particularly uncomfortable bicycle which is why I am typing this sitting on one of the cushions from my bed. I would highly recommend the motorbike option since they are not that expensive and far less painful. A motorbike can be driven to the bridge that crosses over to the island of Don Khong.

There a ticket can be purchased to see Donkhone Sophamit Waterfalls Park for about $4.00 that is truly worth every penny. After the short ride, you have to ditch your bike and head into the park on foot. There were very few tourists, and the trail gave such a variety of vistas for great photo ops. It was very relaxing, and the sounds of the rushing water was soothing after some of the frenetic energy of the cities previously encountered, as well as relieving the beating my behind had taken getting to the falls.

The reward at the end of the trail is a pleasant restaurant, with panoramic vistas and shaded, wooden enclosures to take it all in. One of them even had a billiard table. There’s nothing like a good mango shake at the end of a hike.


Off tomorrow to see the Niagara of Southeast Asia and some rare and friendly freshwater dolphins. Unfortunately, it was not to be since I fell victim to my first case of violent stomach problems in all of my years of travel. This was made even worse by the fact that the night before I had been bragging that I had yet to come down with this horror of explosive effluent. It went on for three straight days of relay races to the toilet. Thankfully, there was a little hose for cleaning the toilet and a drain in the middle of the tiled bathroom, since my ailment had deteriorated into a Tarantino Nightmare except with diarrhea in the place of the usual blood.

I plan to return the island in the future so I can give it another go, and actually see those dolphins. I figure that my horrible experience was instigated by a can of soda with some awful bacteria on it. The hotel I stayed in was pristine and owned by a Frenchman who served delicious food.


DSC00940Farewell Don Det


Vientiane, Laos – Arc de Triomph – Vientiane Style


 Buddha Park – Vientiane, Laos


Reclining Buddha – Buddha Park – Vientiane, Laos


Village people making rice paper to be made into noodles for shipment to Vientiane.


Noodles being packed for shipment. PHÔ anyone?




Plain of Jars – Xiang Khouang, Laos


Elephant Park – Luang Prabang, Laos – Riding Rescued Elephants


Baby wants bananas!


Kuang Si Falls – Luang Prabang


Brazilian Butt Floss – One photo not ruined by tourists in the way. On a side note, I was passing this photo shoot on a muddy path and nearly killed myself when I got distracted and lost my footing. I bruised my hands, knees, pride, camera, and soiled my clothes. I figured after all of that I owed it to myself and my male readers something positive to take away from the experience, and so later took this shot to soothe my wounds. Thank God I didn’t break my camera which proved itself to be sturdy when it hit the ground along with me.


Kuang Si Falls – The previous shots were foreplay.




Night Market – Luang Prabang


  1. Z
    January 23, 2015

    Hey John, those hammocks look very inviting.. have you tried them?
    Looking forward to seeing more pics & reading new stories.
    Enjoy… 🙂

  2. BearCoon
    January 24, 2015

    Is that a lie down flat bus seat??

  3. The Travel Zealot
    January 25, 2015

    Actually that bus seat is more of a full reclining and was actually pretty comfortable. A good deal comfortable than many of the brick hard beds I have encountered. Just took another overnight bus from Vientiane to Xieng Quoang and it was way more comfortable than my previous hotel.

  4. The Travel Zealot
    January 25, 2015

    Hi Z,
    I used the hammock on the right for a very pleasant sunset nap. A real pleasure after the beating my behind took on that ramshackle rental bike.

  5. Buell Hollister
    January 31, 2015

    Hey, John, aside from a sore butt it sounds like you are well on your way. The photos are terrific and you do a good job of taking me with you in spirit.

    Happy trails from your brother Buell

  6. The Travel Zealot
    February 1, 2015

    Good to hear from you Buell. It’s been so great to have your first novel accompany me on the first leg of my trip. For those interested it can be found on Amazon. “Leeram in Fordlandia” by Buell Hollister. You’ve always been a great storyteller. I remember you telling me a scary bedtime story when I was a kid about some haunted lighthouse. Really scared the bejeezus out of me.

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