One more night in Laos

Friday 22nd December

Miles: 5   Climbing: 75ft

I woke up feeling much better but I don’t think it’s wise for me to cycle far today. Besides, I’ve spent almost all my time here in bed so far so I don’t feel like I’m ready to leave Laos without doing a bit of exploring.

The bungalow I’m staying in is a bit expensive and isn’t even that great so over breakfast I have a look online for alternative accommodation. I end up booking a tipi on the island of Don Det and then head off to explore the island by bike. There’s a lot about this island that reminds me of my home on Easdale island. You have to get a ferry to both, there are no roads or streetlights on either and they are both really relaxing and a tourist destination. There are also a lot of differences. On Easdale I pretty much wear wellies and waterproofs year round whereas on Don Det I wear flip flops, lounge around on hammocks drinking beer and get offered weed wherever I go.

I finally reach the other side of the island and the route to the waterfalls that I’m looking for. It looks like most people leave their bicycles here and continue of foot but as I’ve got all of my belongings on my bike and it’s a mountain bike I decide to carry on on two wheels.

The first challenge is the bridge.

After stopping for a photo I test the bridge on foot. There’s a few loose planks and one of the wires is broken but it looks solid enough so I got for it on the bike and somehow manage to survive.

The terrain on the other side proves very difficult on a fully loaded bike but I quickly reach the waterfalls. I carry my bike up to a lookout point where I take a few pictures, mostly of my bike on the edge of a cliff of the waterfalls. I’m very careful about standing my bike on the edge, especially as the rapids below look very dangerous, but the inevitable happens. My bike tips over and lands on the edge of the cliff before tipping upside down and starting to slide towards the point of no return. I launch myself forward into a dive towards my bike and manage to grab hold of the bottom of both wheels just before my bike is about to disappear into the Mekong forever. I drag it back to safety and curse myself for being so stupid. I did manage to get some good photos though.

Further down below the waterfalls I find a calm spot to take a swim before heading back across the bridge and towards my tipi.

When I get there it’s way too early to check in and I’m in need of food so I carry on to find somewhere to eat. A few hundred meters down the track I get a very friendly, very English, hello shouted from a bar so I decide to stop and eat there. Little do I know that this decision would end up changing the course of a lot of the rest of my trip (keep reading the blogs to find out why).

The bar is called Jungle Bar and the hello came from Lee who works there. It’s a very rustic, relaxed bar with low tables and cushions on the floor. I ordered a beer and some food and settle in surrounded by kittens.

A couple at the next table start talking to me. They have moved to Don Det from Norway. Richard is from Norway and Krisztina is from Hungary. They have given up their old lives to try to bring plastic recycling to Laos. They have a documentary series on Norwegian tv and ask if they could interview me for it. We agree to do the interview later that evening.

A little later 3 women arrive and check in to the bungalows behind the bar. As all the tables are now full they ask to join me when they come back to the bar. There is Shara from the UK, Marlene from Canada and Stella from Australia. They are all solo traveling but have teamed up for a while as they wanted to visit the same places. I end up spending all afternoon there just chilling out and chatting before I head back to my tipi to check in.

After the most rustic shower I have ever had I head back to the Jungle Bar for my interview.

The bar is far too noisy for my interview so me and Richard go for a walk to find somewhere quieter and end up doing the interview underneath a local house (all of the houses here are built on stilts). It’s is a very surreal experience and I’m surrounded by locals and have chickens pecking at my feet the whole time. The interview topic was about plastic straws and how a town in Scotland, Ullapool, had recently become straw free and how I was hoping to make Easdale straw free next year.

We head back to the bar for dinner and I end up kind of wishing that I could spend Christmas here instead.

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