Monday, May 4, 2015

Live Slowly in Si Phan Don

On adventures in Laos to untouched areas, Si Phan Don is considered as a peaceful destination to escape from city’s noise and busy life. 

As a countryside area, Si Phan Don reveals with idyllic scenery of red soil paths, rustling green bamboo ramparts, and children back to home from school loquacious on small lanes beside Mekong river. The river has its widest part of nearly 14 km in just this area along with thousands of diverse-shaped-river-islets. From Pakse to Si Phan Don, it takes 2 hours by car to reach the river side.

travel to Si Phan Done - Laos

Si Phan Don in Laotian means “4000 islands”, half of these thousands of islands are submerged on the flood season. Two islands of Don Det and Don Khon are connected each other by an old bridge which was constructed since French colonial period. Today, the bridge is just only for walking, biking, and sometimes motorcycling.

cycling on Don Det - Don Khon bridge

Travelers may be overwhelmed before the entire water space. Water is everywhere. Charming beauty of the green river is more lyrical as sunset goes down, the time that stocks’ wings appear intermittently somewhere then wedge into low groves.

So wonderful to enjoy peaceful and graceful scenes of late afternoon. The air is cool by agreeable fragrance of wild flowers and fresh grass. Some buffaloes saunter on tiny islands and leisurely graze. It is easy to hear sound of beating clothes into water and rinsing from corners of the dam. Children play and wade in cool water with plashing noise. The islands is oddly overran by dogs and cats roaming everywhere. They are friendly, sweet and mostly clean.

In Don Khon, there is only a rough soil trail throughout from tip to tip. A number of rustic and casual stilt houses with jiggling hammocks at the front and old swings still standing at the corner of the garden. Here, it is lack of water and electricity. Electricity is usually cut from 1p.m. When night falls, mosquitoes and insects rumble. Most of the dwellings are houses in stilt with thatching roof and bamboo wall. What a great place for travelers to stay away from the modern, bustling life and immerse in an authentic life!

Si Phan Don village
The most exciting experience in Si Phan Don is pedaling around through islands and serene villages, feeling incessant winds, drifting over countless lush green paddles with scent of soil and rice filling the space, and being lost in ravishing ancient lagerstroemia forests at the end of the trail. Sometimes, cyclists can encounter thoughtful fishing-robs looking anxiously down the powerful stream, boys or girls on creaking hammocks who are dreaming gentle dreams while open books are still on their hands. Let kindly make funny conversations with the residents to get a glimpse of the local life.

In this secluded place among thousands of islet and an immense river, travelers can drop in an elegant French restaurant, a simple Italian food stall on riverside or just a noodle stall which is Laotian in style. Prices are quite reasonable.

Strolling at early morning, travelers can easily see the familiar image of this Buddha country. Monks in orange costumes walk on roads with bare foot to ask for alms.  Travelers should offer them some frugal food like indigenous people. Indulgent monks walk silently on small path then return pagodas of curved roofs nestling closely forest that overlook the mighty river. 

Boating Si Phan Don
On a small boat wriggling deliberately over islands, travelers can discover beautiful Khone Phapheng waterfall, which has many rapids and vortexes. It is the greatest fall in Southeast Asia that has made waterway traffic nearly impossible in this river section. Just Khone Phapheng fall has blocked upstream of Irrawaddy dolphins. Roaming sound of the fall pouring down is successively thunderous. Here, there is a wide sandy ground in the side of Mekong river like a beach, which is the habit of smart Irrawaddy dolphins. Therefore, it is called as “Dolphin Beach”.

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