Bus to 4000 islands Supposed to be Cambodia
Austrian dude with dreads
Today we are heading out to the 4000 islands. They are just above the border with Cambodia. Everyone has said to have a look as it is a nice area, there are also some of the biggest waterfalls in S.E.Asia there.
Getting the bus there should be easy, so we grabbed our bags and took a tuktuk to the bus station. The station is about 8km out of town, so slightly out of walking distance. On arriving at the bus station our bags were grabbed and thrown on a larger tuktuk. We had no idea what was happening, and trying to talk to the driver about it.
This large tuktuk turned out to be the bus. That was service. Our driver had delivered us to the bus and organised our stuff for us. Pity we had no idea what was happening. It took a while to sort out, and a few foreigners helped. It turned out that they live on the island. It also turns out that there are no money facilities on the island, and we had SFA cash on us. Luckily the bus wasnt due to leave for about half an hour, so a frantic negotiation with another tuktuk driver to take me to the closest ATM and back to get some cash. I left Anna at the station and climbed on. As the driver knew the timeframe, we raced through the centre of the markets on the other side of the street, through puddles, and potholes. Scattering people to either side, there was no restraint. I think we made it to the ATM in record time. It was a good thing there were no police around.
The next hitch was that the ATM ran out of money. Typical. However I had the equivalent of 300 Kip and that should get us to and over the border. We raced back to the bus station, and met up again with Anna. The tuktuk driver got a good tip for going so quickly.
It wasnt long until we were loaded onto the “bus” like cattle. I was hoping to get a seat on the roof, but was not to be. We were in the middle pew, at the front. There was zero room. I think that the max load was 15 people, and we had thirty. It was a little cramped to say the least. I was hoping that the crowd would ease up as we progressed towards our destination, but we only added more people and more luggage. 2 hours later we reached the first stop where people got off. I could finally move my legs. Then most people deserted the bus at the next stop, as it was the entranceway to the largest island. Now we could get seats with the remnants of cushions. It was a lot better. You could breath, and the kid in front of Anna was gone. He wasnt too bad considering how kids can be, but we were both worried when mum spent most of the trip grooming his hair and taking out the lice. The last thing I want is lousy dreads!
The trip became a bit more laid back. The guys living on the island started talking. One was an Austrian wannabe Rastafarian with good dreads. The other was American, and the third owned the place where they were working. They decided to roll and light a joint. When asked about the laws here, the response was that the bus was now in the owners home territory, and the people there just saw it as a plant to be used like any other. Fair enough.
At the stop on the other side of the islands there is a small service town set up. We got the ferry across to the island. The river is quite wide here, with a strong current. We could see why it was called 4000 islands, as there are a lot of little outcrops that have trees on them, some are larger and have houses. The one we went to (Don Deth) was quite large and has several villages, a tourist trap and lots of fields. The boat took us to the tourist trap.
Not surprising really. There is only one dirt street going along, and further up it splits into several paths. restaurants, guest houses, tour organisers and shops line both sides. We split off from the main path, and meandered down to the guest house the Austrian was in.This was booked out. Even though it was off-season. No matter 5 metres back down the road we found a serviceable place with a standard room, balcony where you could sit, or lie in a hammock, over the road was the restaurant attached to the guest house, but it only took up a little of the view before you could see the Mekong flowing past.
It was very quiet and relaxing. We broke out the last of the rum and sat watching the view for a little bit to recover from the trip.
We were only planning on staying a day, but it looks like the trap could work, and may spend a couple of days. As it was dinner time, we grabbed our torches and made our way into the main street. We didn’t need them now, but knew we would to negotiate the puddles on the way back in the dark. A decent feed and a few cheep drinks later we made our way back. It wast too bad, but glad we had the torches.