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Friday Photo Diary – 29th January

Every Friday I’ll be writing a post with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to that week, and include my favourite five photos.

Apologies for the lateness of this post… I haven’t lost track of days just yet – see below for my explanation!

After a twelve hour journey (only around five hours actually travelling, the rest waiting), and a definite border scam, Jeni and I finally crossed the border into Laos and boarded a boat to Don Det. One of the Four Thousand Islands in the middle of the Mekong River in southern Laos, Don Det has been described as paradise by many of my friends who’ve travelled there; we couldn’t wait to spend a few days there this week relaxing.

Our guesthouse for the first two nights was situated away from the tiny town strip, on the sunrise side of Don Det. Unfortunately it may have been slightly too wild for us – the first twelve hours brought us a room infested with ants, a spider attack and a pretty scary-looking snake being shoo-ed from the kitchen. We decided to move, but not before rising early on Sunday to catch an incredible sunrise (photo below).

Taking a slight step up in comfort, we ended up justifying our budget blow at the most luxurious (and expensive) hotel on the tiny island – it had a swimming pool. The next four days were spent doing laps, but mostly working on our tans and generally relaxing.

Don Det has a neighbour island to the south, Don Khone, which we did take time away from the pool to explore. Hiring bicycles we rode fifteen minutes to the bridge connecting the islands and headed to a nearby waterfall. Somphamit Waterfalls Park ended up being well-worth exploring; there are several tiers of large falls, which result in rapids within the Mekong. Sadly the current was too strong to go swimming, but there was a beach, and a sunset cafe with gorgeous hut platforms overlooking the waterfalls. After our ‘tiring’ day out we took a nap there before heading back to Don Det.

After six days of doing not much, we were both ready to move onwards, and so yesterday we took a boat back to mainland and a bus north to Champasak for the night.

Practically just a one-night stopover, the small riverside town of Champasak did have one attraction we were keen to visit this morning – Wat Phou. Wat Phou is an Angkor-era temple, the most important one in Laos, and is situated on a hill known locally as ‘Mount Penis’. We had to check it out!

Cabbage Patch Kids
On our journey between Pakse and Savannakhet, Jeni and I experienced an entirely new form of transport – the Cabbage Bus. Two thirds of the vehicle were packed window to window, floor to ceiling, with cabbages. In the third reserved for human passengers, no space was wasted; under every seat and down the aisle were boxes of cabbages and other greens. The bus roof was near collapsing under the weight of several tonnes of veggies stacked under tarp above our heads.

 

The Cabbage Bus

The Cabbage Bus

Packed with greens

Packed with greens

Our bags amongst the cabbages

Our bags amongst the cabbages

The novelty definitely wore off however, as a two and a half hour journey turned into nearly six, and our veggie-filled vehicle dropped us miles from our intended destination leaving us stranded and hungry with nowhere to stay.

 

Here are my favourite five for the week:

 

Don Det Sunrise

Don Det Sunrise

Water Buffalo, Don Det

Water Buffalo, Don Det

Somphamit Waterfalls, Don Khone

Somphamit Waterfalls, Don Khone

Beach at Somphamit

Beach at Somphamit

View from Wat Phou

View from Wat Phou

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces – a Photo Blog

Yuanyang was my final stop in China, and sadly due to time constraints I only had a full day and two nights there. Yuanyang is an area, rather than an actual town or village. Buses arrive and leave from the largest (and only) town, Xinjie, and from there I took a bumpy, 30-minute minivan ride to my guesthouse in Duoyishu village.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

The following morning I was awake unnaturally early so I could make it to the closest ‘viewing platform’ for sunrise. This, luckily, was only a ten minute walk from my guesthouse; however it was still done in darkness, through a tiny village and past several wild dogs and pet buffaloes. I made it in time but my efforts were wasted as I stood in the cold waiting for a non-existent sun to rise.

Baby Water Buffalo

Baby Water Buffalo

Realising at around this time that I had run out of money and that the nearest ATM was back in Xinjie village, I worked out the fastest walking route from Duoyishu through the rice fields – a relatively lengthy hike of five hours. The rest of my day continued as my morning started, and I found myself lost in amongst over 2,000 square kilometres of crops. The fields I wandered through were clearly not made for tourists – I battled through long grass and large spider webs, across a small (but pretty deep) river, past angry guard dogs and up and down muddy rocks, and after the first couple of hours ran out of path entirely. With only an hour left until sunset (and having been hiking for several hours longer than expected) I finally found my exit through a local village, where I was met by curious children and farming animals.

Local Girl

Local Girl

The photos below are from my utterly scary, but definitely worth it, hike (literally) through Yuanyang Rice Terraces.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Ducks in a Row at Yuanyang

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Blue Sky over the Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Market Ladies in Xinjie

Market Ladies in Xinjie

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Red Dragonfly

Red Dragonfly

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces