This trip started with the longest commute from Vang Vieng, Laos all the way to the 4,000 Islands. We had to take a minivan from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. From there, we boarded a sleeper bus to Pakse (southern Laos). I lost my friends there, and I continued on the bus to main island where I then took a ferry to Don Dhet. It was ridiculous. The entire trip was around 25 hours for me non-stop. I didn’t realize that my sleeper bus had one small twin bed… that I was to share with a stranger. My friends were lucky enough to be a couple so they snuggled right up. I guess I could have snuggled up to the random Korean guy next to me, but I decided to hang half off the bed onto the floor instead. He was respectful and didn’t smell at least. It was quite a weird experience. The bathroom on the bus was also one of the most horrid things to see. There were no stops, so that was the option. Sometimes you have to see the dark side.
It was a relief to get off buses and get on the ferry. Even though I was bustled through with hordes of people, it was still better than anything else. Although it was considered “winter” in Laos, the sun was beaming down harshly so I was happily sporting a ball cap that grotesquely said LAOS on it and kind of made me like a dude.
Once I got to Don Det I partnered up with a 21 year old awesome Chinese girl that goes by the name Maya. We shared a hotel room to save some money and I crashed. I was worn very thin. I had already had two melt downs in Laos at that point. The country for me had been very stressful. I hadn’t seen too many sanitary conditions. The people were cold and unfriendly and looking to rip me off every second. I was lied too on a constant basis, and it wasn’t even really that great there. I had a third semi-meltdown after I had to confront 5 british brats playing music, smoking cigarettes and blocking the hallway literally outside my open windows (no AC) at Don Det. The existential crisis was at its peak. I played some Radiohead on my mini blue tooth speaker and had an emo moment.
Luckily, my new Chinese friend and I got along. We rented some bikes and biked around the entire (small) Don Det island, as well as across the wonderful stone arched bridge to Don Khon, where the waterfalls were. The day was hot but fantastic when we arrived to the water. I took a dip around the beach area after my hot and dusty bike ride. The water wasn’t too clean though and some British people were gossiping about how they hated Americans so I decided to just smile and leave.
I would say 4,000 islands was pretty over hyped. It was an okay experience and worth stopping for a night (two max) if you are busing through Laos to Cambodia. After the waterfalls, we got to bike home down the west side of the island to watch a very fantastic and amazing sunset along the Mekong. It was a nice touch to end my last night in Laos.