Adventure around Champasak – Don Daeng

For my little weekend adventure, I go to Miss Noy’s shop and rent a motorbike. Helmet on and off we go. The streets in town are almost empty, it is Sunday morning. I am heading out towards the south. First rains at the end of the dry season have started to convert the rice fields into small ponds mirroring trees and buffaloes. Farmers are back on their fields, tilling the soil to prepare the land for the rice planting season. The grass is greener, trees lusher. With only a few drops the landscape changed. It feels good to be on the road.

I approach my first destination for the day, Champasak village about 30km south of Pakse. It is a hot day – so an iced coconut shake will do while sitting on the riverside of the Mekong to relax and tune to the place. I enjoy a delicious veggie-curry-soup in that little restaurant called home-made. It’s a new place. The owner explains the concept in good English (I have not yet reached this conversation level in Lao Language). Then, I get a room in a hotel. After a little rest, I hop on a bicycle and head on the island Don Daeng just in front of Champasak. A boat “floats” me over to the island, it is a nice experience. With the low waters at the moment, I land on a broad sandy beach. Luckily I got the lighter vehicle as I have to push it through the sand.

The island is quite, I cycle form the northern tip to the south, through villages, along fields and temples. The sun is slowly coming down on the horizon, time to find a boat that takes me back. I follow a blue sign towards the Mekong. A few people come from below, so I should be on the right way. Going down the small hill, balancing on the two wood lanes over the sandy beach, I kind of strand on the riverside. No one’s there, boats but no people…mmhh. Time to take a few pictures and screen the horizon. I can recognise two fishermen about a kilometre north. A tough sand ride brings me to the friendly men who only say “late”…let’s see, suddenly, we both can recognise a boat with people heading further north of the beach. My hope. I continue the sand ride as far north I could and make signs – lucky me, the boat man gives me a countersign and only a few minutes later he comes to get me and my bicycle on the boat. Another nice cruise over Mekong in the evening light.

The next day is another motorcycle adventure with a friend who knows the place in an out, we follow the Mekong towards the south and gather some nice impressions – from boat building (incl. in miniature) to rice basket weavers, old temple incl. library to river life with friendly people and children ready to share a smile. The way is a dirt road, most of the time in good conditions – so lucky me, as it proves later on, I am not such a talented mud driver yet 😉 With a twisted foot toe from a slow-motion-fall into the mud, I soon board a boat that brings me to the other shore of the Mekong and I say good bye to my friend. Before I shall close the loop, I am challenged to balance the motorcycle over a two board wooden lane through the sands and to cross a temporary wooden bridge…almost two small for the two of us – the bike an my self – and made of unfixed wooden boards. I struggle…and decide that I need some help here. I shout a few times “Sabaidee” and “Kho Toot”. And as if he heard me, a man appears on the hill that leads to the beach and helps me to get over the bridge. Wonderful! “Khop Jai Lai Lai” – Thank you very much!

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