Have you ever been to a white, sandy beach on a river island?
The beach was massive and more akin to a salt water shore than a river island’s banks (or at least the ones that I’ve seen in the past).
Our strange beach companions, these oxen approached us in unison (tied together at the nostrils). I don’t think I’ve ever seen cattle on a beach.
Back at the Homestead
Families often congregated under their houses-on-stilts, where they would cook, chop wood, play, socialize, and tend to chores.
Our host families were very hospitable and made up our floor pallets with lots of TLC. The colorful mosquito netting was meant to keep the pesky critters at bay (they weren’t so bad anyway), as the the house was open-air.
Colorful bedding, no? It was quite quaint and comfy. The night passed with little disturbance, save the quintessential rooster cockle at all hours (if you’ve ever participated in a home-stay in a remote community, you know what I’m talking about! I was definitely anticipating the rooster).
Farmer’s Market, Anyone?
As mentioned in my last post, the inhabitants of the island fished and farmed for their food. Their livelihood revolved around elegantly simple subsistence. Talk about the ultimate organic experience!! It was truly a treat to taste their home made, home grown (and butchered!) food.
Noodles for breakfast = my ultimate favorite thing about food in Asia!!!!!! Can I get a “heck yea?!”
I feel like a common thread in our conversations was that we wished for more interaction with our host families. We sort of saw them when we initially set our luggage down, then again when we ate supper (dinner), and lastly when it was bedtime. Of course, the language barrier proved somewhat of a hinderance, but we had a local Loatian guide, and that was supposed to be his job. He did a decent one, I reckon. It just seems like more interaction with the locals was needed or warranted. I think that is my only complaint about Don Deng. I love home-stays, I just wish we could have spent more time getting to know the families we stayed with on a personal level.
Home-stays on Don Deng are apparently quite common. The villagers take turns hosting guests, and the village chief oversees the rotation. The nominal sum they receive from the visitors is shared amongst the entire community.
Leaving the Island
The tide was out when well walked to our catamaran ferry boats. The landscape was fascinating to me: part river delta, part tropical island, part mountainous (or maybe hilly) terrain. Rivers and beaches and mountains, oh my!
This guy was carrying dinner home, I reckon.
I have a hat like that one, from Vietnam!
Just as they came to welcome us, so they came to send us off. How cute is this little girl? She couldn’t contain her ecstatic happiness!
Again, it’s always nice to reflect on those amazing places that we visit, isn’t it? At the time, our G Adventures group seemed to generally think that our island stays in southern Laos weren’t that spectacular. But that’s exactly why it was so amazing. It was NOT spectacular. It was special. It was authentic. It was real life. These people shared their lives with us, just for a day. And for that, I am forever grateful. And now, I reminisce!!!
Thanks for stopping by!