Monday 28 Aug
4000 islands - Don Det, Laos
We had only planned to spend a couple of days on the island of Don Det in Southern Laos but it is now day eight. Relaxation has been forced upon us by me injuring my leg during the border crossing from Cambodia. It was the usual border crossing shenanigans and we were kept waiting amongst piles of stuff to be loaded on to the boat to cross the river. A stroppy backbacker fed up with the wait decided to barge through the crowd helpfully knocking a motorbike over on to my leg. The handlebars smacked just above my ankle. I think if I hadn't been in so much pain I'd probably have lamped her one.
The speed at which the backpacker community jumped to my aid was quite impressive. Before I could say ow, a Korean guy had put an ice pack on my leg , a French girl was popping homeopathic arnica pills in to my mouth and a flurry of helpers loaded our bags on to the boat, enabling Rob to help me. I think everyone was just eager to make use of the first aid kits left for months languishing in the bottom of their bags, but we were very grateful for their enthusiasm. What had started out as a standard boat/bus combination delivering us with minimal effort to the 4000 Islands on the Mekong river had now turned in to a six hour nightmare. I couldn't walk let alone carry any bags and if it hadn't been for the help of the rallying troops I don't know how we would have managed.
Fortunately the island of Don Det is the perfect place to recuperate. You couldn't do anything here even if you tried. There is no electricity save for a few generators providing light from 6 to 10pm. Most of the villagers live subsistence lifestyles growing rice, raising pigs and cattle and a few own bungalows along the waterfront which are the perfect places to relax. Luckily for me ours had a sit down loo - squat toilets are difficult at the best of times but on one leg they're fairly impossible.
We've spent the past few days lazing in hammocks reading, drinking beer and watching the Mekong float by. If we haven't been doing that we've been playing with the many kittens that seem to rule our guesthouse or playing cards with fellow travellers. We've needed a break from the endless bus journeys for a while, and all be it enforced , doing nothing for a few days is a welcome relief. My leg seems to be getting better, I can now walk on it and Rob has made me a bamboo crutch. I don't think I've done anything serious but I think I've damaged a ligament or something so we'll see how the next couple of days go before deciding if we should head to Bangkok to get it checked out. My main concern is to get fit so I can do trekking in Nepal, but for the moment I'm content passing the days swinging in a hammock (great for leg elevation) watching the occasional raft of water buffalo float past, or joining the local evening entertainment of betting on how many times a gecko chirps 'gecko.' Mo, our guesthouse owner, is currently winning with six.