I arrived in Pakse with a pretty good idea of the type of town I was going to be spending a few days in, so thankfully I wasn’t disappointed by the lack of things to do. Outside of the large number of temples in the city, there really isn’t a lot to Pakse, so I’ll keep this post short to lengthen your lives and keep your interest in my blog.
Most people end up in Pakse on their way to Don Det – an island in the Mekong – or Cambodia. I ended up there for both reasons. It took me 4 tries before I found a place to stay in Pakse, and after hearing a string of stupid excuses like we only have rooms available for 2 people, I could have care less what I had to pay as long as I didn’t have to sleep on the street. By this time it was late afternoon, so I decided to wander through town in the hopes of finding something cool. I didn’t. The town really is as boring as I mentioned in my first sentence, so I headed back to the hotel and ordered some dinner.
By chance I ended up staying in the same hotel as the couple I met in Chiang Khong, and ran into again a few days before in Vientiane. I briefly mentioned them in my last post, but it wasn’t until we shared a drink this evening that I finally learned their names: Ana and Jo. We literally sat around talking and sharing storied until the staff began to stack tables and chairs around us and we decided it was probably time to say goodnight.
Out of sheer boredom I went on a long walk in the hopes of at least seeing some cool temples. I didn’t. It was incredibly hot outside and I much preferred spending the day indoors to wandering around a boring town, so I headed back to my hotel room and caught up on some TV shows from back home. I’m not proud of how boring this section of my trip is, but if you’ve ever been to Pakse you wouldn’t blame me.
I stayed in my room until dinner time, when I felt compelled to find someplace great to eat. The trouble was, nothing sounded good and I ended up back at the hotel ordering spring rolls and french fries. While I was eating Ana and Jo appeared and headed out to dinner, only to reappear a few minutes later after learning the restaurant they wanted to eat at had closed early. They joined me and we all sat around eating, drinking, and chatting until once again the staff began to stack tables and chairs around us. They were leaving in the morning for Don Det, and since I hadn’t book my bus ticket yet I promised to see them the following day provided I could get a ticket. Ana and I exchanged email addresses so we could communicate and we all said goodnight.
It was Mother’s Day back home, so I had an early morning Skype date with my family planned. It’s hard to organize schedules when your 12 hours ahead of all the people you want to talk to back home, so I woke up early in order to accommodate their Mother’s Day plans with the family. After an hour-long conversation we said the appropriate goodbye’s and I love you’s, and I headed out to book a bus ticket for the following day. The task literally took me 20 minutes to do, so I went back to my room and slept until noon.
When I woke up I headed out for some lunch and then off to get my very first massage. I had to wait half an hour for my masseuse to show up, but since I had nothing better to do I grabbed a seat and sipped on the tea I was given. when the girl finally arrived, I was taken to another room where my feet were washed and led up a stairwell to a large room where 4 other people were getting massaged. The massage itself only lasted an hour, but boy was it worth both the wait and the small amount of money I paid for it. I had asked for the shoulders, neck and head massage which apparently only lasts 30 minutes, so I was also given a full body massage to last the rest of the hour. My petite and all around tiny masseuse is not someone I would want to make angry. To this day I swear she could have killed me without even trying. She stretched, massaged, and popped every inch of my body. It might sound unpleasant, but I had actually never felt more relaxed in my life. When the massage was over I headed back to my hotel and spent the remainder of my day in bed watching movies. I couldn’t wait to leave in the morning.
Day 1 Total: 364,000 Kip or $47.52 for transportation to Pakse, food, drinks, and accommodation
Day 2 Total: 266,000 Kip or $34.72 for food, drinks and accommodation
Day 3 Total: 309,000 Kip or $40.34 bus to Don Det, massage, food, drinks, and accommodation
I woke up early and checked out of my hotel. I had a bus to catch to Don Det, and was excited about the prospect of seeing a new place and being one step closer to Cambodia. The bus ride was pretty uneventful, and I my have slept through the majority of it. When the bus finally stopped, we were all told to get out and grab our packs. There wasn’t another instruction given. I think they all thought we would instinctively know what to do. We didn’t. We all stood there as if waiting for another bus to come pick us up. It took a good 20 minutes before anyone told us we had to walk to the dock and catch a boat to Don Det, so we all donned our packs and started walking. Man was I happy I chose my 46 liter pack during this little stretch of road. I couldn’t imagine having to carry anything larger or heavier on my back.
At the dock we had our tickets checked and were ushered into one of two waiting boats that finally delivered us to Don Det. I stood in the sand with my pack and went off in search of some place to stay. Since I had spent quite a bit of money on my room in Pakse, I decided to keep my expenses down and find an affordable bungalow to spend a few days in. With my sleeping arrangements taken care of it was time for the most important part of the day: food. I headed out and ate some lunch before spending the rest of the afternoon reading a book in my hammock. I had been emailing Ana off and on throughout the day, and made plans to meet them later for dinner and drinks.
By the time 7 rolled around I was completely lost trying to find Ana and Jo’s hotel… I didn’t think it was possible on a small island like Don Det, but it is if you’re me. Eventually I gave up looking and headed back to my room to send an S.O.S. message. Ana came and found me and we all had a good laugh at my ability to get lost. After an enjoyable dinner we headed out in search of somewhere to get some drinks and ended up in a small and over-packed bar with almost every other backpacker on the island. It was a fun night.
I woke up to the sunrise and almost immediately felt sick. This is what happens when you have too much fun the night before. I stayed in bed the entire day and finally braved an outing for some food around dinner time.
Since I was feeling better I actually got out of bed at a decent time and ate more than one meal. Now that Ana and Jo were on their way to Siem Reap, the island wasn’t nearly as fun so I went in search of a good place to book a ticket. The only problem with this plan was the fact that I didn’t have enough money with me to purchase anything more than dinner. There are no ATM’s on Don Det, so I had missed my opportunity to get money before arriving. Luckily for me there is a hotel on the island that does cash advances on your credit card for a fee, so I made my way there and got out just enough money to cover the ticket and my bungalow.
I didn’t do anything overly exciting for the rest of the day besides grab some dinner, so we’ll skip ahead to the best part of my stay on Don Det. I had booked the room from hell. Not only were there 2 cockroaches freely running around my room, but just before bed I went to take a shower and turned around to find a giant red iguana/lizard/dragon hanging out of my ceiling staring my directly in the eye. Naturally I did what most people would: I panicked, locked the door, and refused to go inside my bathroom until morning.
Now the picture above isn’t exactly what the thing on my wall looked like, as it was a deep red, but the size seems about right. Either way if you imagine this thing staring at you in a small enclosed space you’d probably react the same way I did. I didn’t fall asleep until well into the early part of the morning. I could hear it moving around, so I hid under the mosquito net on my bed and prayed it didn’t like the taste of human flesh.
Day 1 Total: 152,000 Kip or $19.84 for food drinks and accommodation
Day 2 Total: 80,000 Kip or $10.44 for food, drinks and accommodation
Day 3 Total: 426,000 Kip or $55.61 for bus ticket, food, drinks, and accommodation