31 July 2012

Been There Don Det

This is the look of disappointment.

Don Det… sleepy little island of Don Det located in the 4,000 islands.  Granted, I was there in the off-season so not a lot going on.  It’s a one road “town” that doesn’t even have a paved road and the width of the street is about 15’ wide and maybe an eighth of a mile long with the shops and restaurants and probably half a mile long with all the guest houses.  The rest of the island are crops and water buffalo roaming around.  The first day my friend, Damien and I got there, we decided we needed a drink so we do our own little pub crawl to get to know the town.  It ended up being a lot of fun and a great way to get to know the town especially the barbeque that we had a few nights in a row at a restaurant that I don’t remember the name of but it’s the only one and is owned by a British gentleman and his wife.  Some of the best bbq I have had in a long time!  I definitely recommend it! 

Damien and I finally got around to doing something cultural and rented bicycles to ride around on the two islands.  It’s quite a lovely trip along relatively flat dirt roads through fields, crops, more forested areas, and through small towns.  Not too many locals were seen in the middle of the day (they’re smart enough not to be physically exerting themselves in the middle of the day while it’s super hot) but a few were found here and there in the fields or riding their tractor/car along with some monks going to and from town.  Most of all, it’s just nice to get on a bike and ride with the wind blowing through my hair and being able to explore the island freely. 

On our way to the tip of Don Khon, I spot some kids in a field where their parents were working and they were running with the twirly like toys laughing.  I didn’t have my camera handy, so I took my mental snapshot.  On our way back we went through the same area only to run into these kids on the road, one of them not even wearing any bottoms.  They stop us and start pointing at our water bottles outside of our backpacks, they wanted our water.  I’m standing there thinking, “Really, water?  Not money or toys?”  So we hand them our half full bottles of water.  Then they make a gesture pointing to our bags and their mouths to ask if we had food or candy.  Neither of us did so we didn’t have anything more to give.  I ask about their toys to have them demonstrate how it works and they oblige my request.  One of the older girls points to my camera and wants her picture taken.  So she poses with her twirly toy and rushes to look at the photo I’ve just taken.  The others want to pose too (except for one boy who I think was disappointed that we didn’t have much to give – see his photo above) and look at their photo .  Shortly, their mother was calling them and they all go running down the road with smiles on their faces and their twirly toys whirring in the wind.  It’s the simplest things that make these kids so grounded and whole-heartedly happy... except for that boy, he just wanted food.  

A little dose of Don Det lifestyle

What a portion of the day included, relaxing.  This cat obviously knows cat people.

The son of the owner at our favorite bbq restaurant

Kids with homemade twirly toys asking for water and food

Hearing their mother calling them...

and running home.

Now, the unfortunate part is that Laos is a very poor country and many of the children have to contribute to the family's survival so they often have a lot of responsibility and are quite resourceful.  

This girl walked up and down this steep hill at least 10 times while I was sitting there drinking a Coke,
and she was getting full buckets of water from the river for her family.  She couldn't be older than 7 years old.

Repairing his homemade sling shot.


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