We woke up and set off early at 8am for Don Det. Our trip was to be much easier and faster than our previous journey from Thailand to Laos and we were quite excited to have a few nights chilling out on the island. After a 3 hour bus ride we arrived to the dock where we had a quick 5 minute boat ride to Don Det. When we arrived I left Charlie with a beer at a restaurant whilst I went on the hunt for a room for us. I found a guesthouse which was clean, quite new and had the option for air conditioning. We ate a quick lunch at the restaurant before checking in, showering and having a little rest. We headed to a place called sunset bungalows for a beer and to watch the sunset over the mekong river. The place was really cool as it had a ledge that you could run off and jump into the water from.We met another group of travellers before heading to dinner. Don Det is a really chilled out, relaxing place and so the restaurant we ate in was playing friends in order on repeat. We ended up having dinner and a couple of drinks there whilst watching TV before heading to bed.
We woke up for our first full day on the island and decided to hire push bikes to ride over to Don Khone, which is a larger island next to Don Det. We set out in the mid day heat, crossed the bridge and headed to a waterfall which was on our map.The waterfall was quite disappointing but another group of travellers pointed us in the direction of a beach. We rode to the beach and enjoyed a nice cool drink in one of the restaurants there.The restaurant owners son was very interested in Charlie’s camera so Charlie spent some time with him, letting him take some photos with it. There was a couple on the table next to us who also had some nice camera equipment so the young boy would swap between their table and ours. The beach was really nice but we didn’t wear our bathers so we just had a walk around and admired the views on offer.We then set out to find the waterfall park at the top of the island. After a 10 minute ride we came across the entrance and parked our bikes. The waterfall was more like a huge set of rapids but it was really beautiful.We ran into the other couple from the beach restaurant and the guy, Mike, was flying a drone. Charlie couldn’t resist and ran over to ask him loads of questions and see how it works. Mike is actually a professional photographer back home so he and Charlie had quite a lot to talk about. After an hour meeting Mike and Becki we headed off back to Don Det to get showered and head to our favourite sunset spot.After another sunset beer and swim in the Mekong we headed to dinner and on the way ran into Mike and Becki. We decided to eat with them at a place they recommended. The food was nice and it was nice to get to know them more. We made plans with them to meet the next day for breakfast.
We woke up wanting to go on a kayaking tour but after realising we needed to book the night before we decided to have a chilled out day on the island. We met Mike and Becki for breakfast at the restaurant that plays friends on repeat. We caught up with them, watched friends and used the wifi to plan our next few weeks in Laos. That evening we all headed to Sunset Bungalows for a drink and a swim where we met a cute little girl called May. She took a real liking to Charlie so the two of them waved and laughed at boats going past, whilst dancing to Katy Perry.Mike and Becki came to meet us so afterwards we headed out again to grab some dinner together. After dinner we booked onto the kayaking tour for the next day and book our onward travel for the day after.
The kayaking tour started at Green Paradise for breakfast which was included in the tour. We filled up on Pad Thai style noodles and scrambled eggs before climbing down to the Mekong and getting into our Kayaks. We kayaked down stream for about 45 minutes before stopping at another island to go visit another waterfall.The walk there was really nice as we passed through a village where kids kept running out to say hi to us. The waterfall was really nice and much safer than the rapids (although still very powerful) so our guide got some people to go along the rocks and under the fall. Charlie went alone as I am too much of a scaredy cat sometimes but it looked like a lot of fun.We then walked through the island to a beach area where our guide cooked us some bbq skewers and rice for lunch. We then jumped back in our kayaks and continued downstream through some grade 2 rapids which was really fun. The next part of the tour was to see the rare irrawady dolphins. We originally were told at the office there were only 7 left, however our guide believes there are only 3. We were lucky enough to see 2 of them though, albeit from a distance. We then kayaked to another island to visit another waterfall/rapids.Here we got to watch Mike fly the drone again and have drink at a restaurant before setting off one last time to Kayak back (much to my disappointment – kayaking is hard work!).
We had a fairly chilled evening after Kayaking. We headed to sunset bar with Mike and Becki, as well as another couple from Kayaking, Dan and Beth. We all enjoyed a drink and a swim before heading for an early dinner and then back to the room to packed our bags. We really enjoyed out time in Don Det, it was the perfect combination of relaxing and exploring.
We left Phnom Penh and made what should have been the 3 hour bus journey to Kampot. 2 minibus changes, 2 car washes to cool the engine down and 4 hours later we arrived. We checked into Borey Vatanac Guesthouse which would be our home for the next 4 nights, it was really well priced and had aircon! We found a place for dinner called Ecran noodle and dumpling house where they make home made noodles and dumplings right in front of you. The dumplings were pretty nice however the noodle soup was quite bland and lacking flavour.
The next day we woke up and headed to a place called Epic Arts Cafe for breakfast. It’s a charity run cafe where all the staff are either deaf or have a disability. The menu had tips on how to order in sign language and when the food came it was great! The rest of the day we spent walking along the river and exploring some of Kampot. It’s quite a small sleepy river town however there is a large expect scene. The old architecture from the French is spread all over the town and there’s plenty of nice little cafes to have a coffee in. We spent our afternoon drinking a beer by the river so we could watch the sunset.
After the sunset we went to a place called Captain Chim’s for dinner. The food was really cheap and pretty good. We got chatting to a couple next to us from England. Paul and Hannah are also travelling for a long period of time so we exchanged travel stories over a beer and swapped contact details with the hope to catch up again.
We woke up, hired a scooter from our hotel and drove to Bokor National Park about 40kms away from Kampot. The drive was really nice but it was a very windy day making the road up the mountain feel quite long. We eventually made it to the viewpoint and were so happy the long drive was worth it. The view was amazing!
After the viewpoint we explored some of the abandoned buildings within the national park. The French had built a casino, a church and a few other buildings back in the 1920’s before abandoning the builds and leaving them unoccupied. Walking around and inside made us feel like we were in a horror movie.
Around 2pm we realised we hadn’t eaten yet so we left the national park and headed to Ecran again for some more tasty dumplings. That evening we met up with Paul and Hannah again for dinner and a few drinks before heading home for an early night.
For our last full day we decided to make the drive down to Kep.
The drive was pretty easy and just one long road the whole way there. When we got to Kep we decided to explore the National Park first. The guy at the gate said we could drive through it so we jumped on the bike and headed down the dirt track. The drive wasn’t easy or comfortable as there aren’t any proper roads.
About half a km into the park a long snake slithered out in front of us, it disappeared pretty quickly too but we were then a little on edge about stopping for too long in certain places. We had gone to see the waterfall which we could see on the map, when Charlie asked the ticket office how far it was the guy said there was no waterfall. We thought it was strange as on entry there was a sign for the waterfall so we thought surely there must be one, he must be new or just doesn’t know. Turns out there is a waterfall but only in the rainy season, so when we showed up to the waterfall and admired the dry rocks we knew what he was trying to tell us.
We drove out of the national park and explored the main shoreline of Kep. The beach was nicer than we were expecting but it still wasn’t much to write home about. We also visited the crab market where you can go and buy fresh crab caught off the back of the pier that the market sits on.
On our way home we decided to stop at a cave that we could see on our map. On arrival we were greeted by a young boy, maybe in his teens. Once we realised that he wanted to be our guide, it was a bit too late to tell him we didn’t want one so we just went with it.
We tipped him $1.50 for his service which he was extremely happy with. He wasn’t a very good guide and if anything rushed us around the cave but we both figured that he probably needs that money much more than we do.
That evening we booked our bus for the next day to Sihanoukville, got some take away dumplings and watched TV in bed.
Today we thought it would be nice to walk up to one of the viewpoints on Koh Tao. We had heard there was a few around so I got my trusty maps.me app out and found one just over 3kms away.
Being the silly couple we are we decided to set off just before midday when the sun was at its hottest (why?!).
The first 2kms weren’t too bad and we were discussing how much we were enjoying our walk and that it wasn’t as bad as we thought… Well an hour later and a very steep incline for the last kilometre we were suffering. The sun was beating down on us and I thought we were never going to get there. Arriving at the viewpoint was interesting to say the least. It wasn’t an actual viewpoint. Instead it was the islands main power station which if you shuffled around the ledge and wired fence (almost like James Bond but way more clumsy) it had a beautiful view.
I thought it would be a great idea to suggest walking down the hill to the complete south of the island and then walking around the coast as it would surely have a cool ocean breeze and be easier than our journey there… WRONG! There were no proper roads once we got to the bottom which resulted in a guessing game of thin narrow dirt paths that were usually uneven and quite taxing on the body. We were absolutely drenched in sweat from waking up and down these hilly paths all the way back to the area we were staying in. Although it took us a total of 3 hours from when we left before we managed to get back to the main part of Koh Tao we had seen some beautiful parts of the island that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen!
We finished our last night here having dinner with everyone at A.C. Two again so Kira could have her favourite massaman curry one last time. Oh and the sunset view from this restaurant was particularly special.
Off to Koh Samui tomorrow when the rest of the family start arriving for Jaimee and Lolly’s wedding!