The main mode of transportation on Don Det is the bicycle. Most of the ‘roads’ are small dirt tracks with lots of sharp rocks. I decided to rent a bike at my bungalow, 10.000KIP for the day, a bargain, and make my way across the bridge to the bigger island Don Khon. Nothing is for free, not even an island, so you pay 35.000KIP to enter the big island. There is a man sitting at the end of the bridge to make sure you pay. In return you get an entry ticket that you can use to visit the waterfall park. Since it is the main attraction of the island, I make my way there first.
The road there is a bit confusing because when you hit a crossing there are two signs that say waterfalls that point in two different directions. I happen to pick the right one, thinking I’d follow the other sign later. There is a parking place that’s full of bicycles, has a few motorbikes and a couple of bigger tour vehicles. I’m there in the morning and it’s not particularly busy. It is much bigger than I had expected though. There are a beach and two restaurants on the terrain and you can walk along the Mekong, watching the waterfalls.
These waterfalls aren’t the traditional kind. Around the 4000 islands, the Mekong is incredibly wide. The water is filled with big boulders and sharp rocks around this area. The waterfalls is where a huge amount of water makes its way over the rocky surface. The water looks powerful and comes from all directions. I walk all the way towards the beach and see more and more cascades. I’m impressed with this horizontal waterfall.
Afterwards I take my bike again and ride back to the intersection. Now I take the other path. I end up on a beach from where you can take boats to see the Irrawaddy dolphins. I just have a drink and make my way back. I find a track that takes me to the other end of the island and meet a French girl along the way. We decide to ride together and have lunch when we hit the other side. On Maps.me there is a track that makes our ride into a circle going all around the island and this is where the real adventure starts. First we pass some houses in the jungle and then the path narrows. We come to a halt at a rickety bridge. Well… rickety, more like severely damaged and possibly unsafe. Two other people are crossing it and we watch as they safely make it across. Then it’s our turn. At some points the wood squeaks and at others I have to lift part of my bike over the holes. It seems to be old railroad tracks that are covered by rotting planks.
Then we ride again, cross another questionable bridge and finally arrive at a second waterfall. This one is much less impressive than the first one, but there are some tracks you can follow, walking around, exploring. We find a quiet spot in the river and have a quick bath. There is lots of slimy, green stuff inside, so I try to avoid putting my feet on the bottom. But even as I find a rock to stand on I feel the current pushing the strands of green against my body. So our swim was brief, but at least we were not as hot anymore.
From here it is only a short ride back to the bridge. We ride through a town, which looks absolutely stunning, then take a path that leads us right through a temple back onto the main street. There are a few guesthouses on this island too, along with some restaurants and shops and then we see the bridge again. I am bathing in sweat when arrive at my bungalow. Now all I want to do is have a shower and get back into my hammock to enjoy the last few hours of light. After all, that’s what I’ve got a bungalow for.