Our bungalow has a double bed, mosquito net, ensuite and two hammocks on the balcony from which we can see the sunset over the Mekong and Cambodia on the far bank. All this for the princely sum of 50,000 Kip, or £5 a night. We decide to stay a while.
Don Det has the most backpacker infrastructure of the river islands with many restaurants, bars, travel agencies and shops. The daily temperature peaks around 31° so the days main activity is sweating. We spend all day in flip flops, feet slowly going brown, feeling the smooth wooden planks of restaurant’s floors underfoot. There is something I find comforting about being barefoot in hot countries.
We drink watermelon smoothies and the deliciously rich, sweet milky Lao coffee over ice. We eat rice and veg, Indian curry, asian coconut curries and on the night Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Liverpool at Anfield we had fish and chips. Beerlao is always being drunk, not necessarily by us but someone, somewhere will be enjoying a cold one.
The island is covered in feral creatures. Chickens, cats, dogs and kids. The kids play endlessly and are free to roam unsupervised. They play in the dirt, in the river, paddle boats, balance on floating logs, run around with catapults, always shouting, screaming and laughing.
Cockerels, chickens and their chicks are everywhere, strutting, clucking, scratching and chirping. You never have to wait long to hear Cock-a-doodle-doo. I see three cock fights in my first three days here.
Sundowns are spent in our bungalow restaurant with my teenage idol Jimi Hendrix accompanying the cold beerlao. The owner tells me to help myself to the fridge which saves him a job and makes me feel like a local. The privilege goes to my head and some nights I test our tight budget which is imposed as there are no cash points here.
Next up is a rendezvous in Bangkok with some good friends. A world away from here.