ສະບາຍດີ (sába̖ai-di̖ior hello in Laotian) my friends,
Imagine there’s a place where there’s no police.
Where you cannot get in trouble, a place where crime doesn’t exist.
You may think I make it up, but such a place really exists.
It sounds like a deleted part of the famous John Lennon song, Imagine.
In the southernmost tip of Laos, close to the border with Cambodia, is there where you’ll find 4,000 Islands (Si Phan Do), or as I like to call it the Highlands. I spent my days in Don Det one of the main islands on the Mekong river.
A beautiful place that looks like a maze of islands in a never ending river. Paradise!
I was coming from Vietnam, I liked the place but my experience there was really stressing. Even ordering food could lead into a fight. I was exhausted and needed to just chill and take it easy, without having to put my Shaolin skills to work.
The funny fact about 4,000 Islands is that everything and everyone was “Happy”. There was a (insert Happy before each word) :
Ending (just to see if you were paying attention)
And a Happy Me!
The reason is simple: Ganja!
Everyone was high! I was hight too!
I went to the Happy Bar, 8mts above water. I ordered a delicious happy shake and sat where I could see the fishermen work.
Next to me was a Laotian man, he was so chilled that I felt the need to talk to him, luckily for me he spoke English.
We talked, exchanged stories and shared “happiness” for hours.
But it wasn’t until towards the end of our conversation that I realized he was a Laotian soldier on vacation. Fact that would be crucial later on my life.
It was getting close to lunch time and he asked me if I wanted to check a different place, I agreed and jumped off the bar and into the river.
Have you ever been to a place like this?
Ever done something “illegal” with a law enforcer? (Don’t worry I won’t tell)
Ever jumped off a bar?
- Comfy way: Tourist bus, departs once a day in the morning. It includes the ferry. Price rounds the ₭ 65,000 (Laos Kip).
- My way: I took the afternoon local bus (Songtahew) which is basically a pick up truck with a roof and welded grade. Something you'd use to carry cattle, but fun. The songtahew will take you to Muang Khong Town or Ban Nakasong Town it's a 155 minutes ride and the price rounds the ₭ 40,0000. From either place you can hire a boat for ₭ 15,000 to Don Det. This is a more adventurous way but you save ₭ 10,000 which you can later use to buy happiness shakes or pies, or just to save towards your retirement, your call.
- Bargain, bargain and bargain, prices are already low, but you should always bargain. Just to pay a fair price.
- Be kind to strangers (locals) and share "happiness" with them. You never know if you gonna meet the soldier who's gonna help you later on.
- Don't over consume "happiness".
- Ohh, and if you jump off a bar, make sure there's water waiting for you.