It has been a while since I updated this website, but I guess it is about time to bring everybody up to date and what I have been doing. My private photography workshops and photo tours of ancient temples in Thailand and Cambodia always kept me very busy and happy. Recently I added bicycle touring to my photography tours and workshops, and then the Corona Virus stopped all of us in our tracks.
On the 18th of March (2020) I left Siem Reap, Cambodia to cross into Southern Laos and explore the 4,000 Islands (Si Pan Don) and look for Khmer ruins, in that part of Laos. I have visited Laos quite a few times over the years, but this would be my first trip in the extreme south and also my first time crossing the border from Cambodia.
There was news of the Corona Virus spreading around the world, and talk of possible border closings, but at that time it was believed that the border might close for a few weeks or maybe a month. It didn’t really bother me, I packed up my bicycle with computer and photography equipment and booked a seat on a van, for the border trip (to make sure I got across the border before it closed).
We made it across the border just in time, there were of course the usual delays and minor hustles on the way, but at the end of the day I was able to check into my room on Don Det Island. There were of course a few humorous incidents on the way, I had been told that my bicycle would not fit on the boat with everyone else but if I paid a few dollars more I would be able to take another boat. Once I agreed to pay the extra fee, I was of course put on the same boat with the people I had arrived with. No problem just another lesson learned and to be remembered.
When we arrived on the island, we were all left on our own and I packed my bike and headed out in the general direction I knew my guest house was in. It was dark by then though, so I got lost a few times but eventually made it to Mr. Thos Bungalow, drank a large bottle of Beer Lao, and settled into my room.
The 4,000 Islands turned out to be a very laid back place that used bicycles and motorcycles as the main modes of transportation. There were a fairly large number of long haired backpackers, but also families and more conventional lifestyle type of mostly European tourists. Everyone has to arrive using the very basic fishing and local transport boats you can see in my photos, so once they arrive on the island they are literally in the same boat.
Since I arrived with my own bicycle I immediately started exploring the area. The roads or I should say paths, are very bumpy and require you to pay attention on what is just ahead. Small bridges over what seems like thousands of creeks, are made from scrap wood and bamboo, sometimes dumping the unaware bike rider into the water. No problem, it is always hot, so the water can be a relief.
The first thing to check out on Don Det (island) is the local village, where the boat dock, money changers, grocery stores and a fairly large number of small restaurants and bars will welcome you to come in and sit down. A few of the restaurants and bars are owned by foreigners who obviously liked the place and decided to stay.
To be continued –