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The mighty Mekong thundering down

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Don Det is an island in Laos near the border of Cambodia. Here the Mekong river splits into many river arms. In the dry season, when the water level drops, thousands of islands and sandbanks arise - hence the name of Si Phan Don or four thousand islands. The larger islands are permanent above the water level. On these islands people live in villages cultivating rice and vegetables and catching fish. The landscape on the island is adorable with ricefields, waterbuffalos, rustic villages and friendly people. The island Don Som is a little more south in the Mekong river. The island has a superb natural environment. The ricefields on the island are bordered with palmtrees. Bamboo bushes and again palmtrees grow along the riverside. The villagers on the island built their houses in the cool shade underneath the trees along the riverside. They are not only farmers but craftsmen and fishermen as well. We are moving further south by boat from main island Don Khong to Don Det. A backpacker's paradise, nestled along the breathtaking Mekong River, Don Det is a perfect base for travelers exploring the area. Don Det is off the beaten path, so lacks the touristy feel of other destinations, but still offers beauty and adventure from the local waterfalls. A beautiful Laotian getaway. Further to the south is the island of Don Khone. This island close to the Cambodian border has many kapok trees, coconut palmtrees and bamboo bushes. Boats sailing the Mekong river up north could not go further at Don Khone because of the waterfalls. Further downstream, the Mekong roars over Khone Phapheng Falls. The drop is only about 21 meters, but the water volume is huge. Cambodia lies just a short distance further downriver. This 4200 kilometres long river starts in China and after having passed through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam it ultimately flows into the South China sea. All this water has to pass through a narrow gorge and the sight of the waterfall is overwhelming. The largest waterfall in South East Asia by volume on the Mekong, Si Phan Don Four Thousand Islands. From here the Mekong fans out 14 kms wide creating islands and sandbars.


Millions upon millions of gallons of water drop down every minute here at the big falls. The Khone Phapheng waterfalls represents the largest volume of water passing from one level to another in the whole of Southeast The almost violently white waves, ribbons and showers of water that break over the Mekong rock basin here have quite an earth-juddering force of nature contained within them. Photo taken in the South of Laos near the border of Cambodia. Phapheng is intensely picturesque. Located upstream on a different branch of the mighty Mekong river at the northern edge of Khone Island, it is set amid a mass of jagged rocks. The Mekong forces an angry passage in a series of cascades. In the rainy season it throws up sheets of spray to the accompaniment of a continuous thunderous roar - an awesome sight.


Si Pan Don, ofwel vierduizend eilanden, is een verzameling bewoonde en onbewoonde eilandjes in de Mekong. De rivier is hier een maar liefst 14 km breed labyrint van zandplaten, eilanden, rotsen, stroomversnellingen en spectaculaire watervallen. De eilandjes liggen in het uiterste zuiden van Laos, tegen de grens met Cambodja en hebben een unieke flora en fauna. Ten zuiden van Si Pan Don maak je veel kans om de bedreigde zoetwaterdolfijn te zien. De eilandbewoners leven een ongestoord en traditioneel bestaan en verbouwen rijst, suikerriet en groente. Daarnaast weven ze hun eigen kleding en vangen ze vis in de Mekong. Verschillende eilandjes, zoals Don Khong, Don Det en Don Khone hebben guesthouses, zodat je hier uitstekend kunt island hoppen in de Mekong. Si Pan Don is de laatste jaren zeer populair geworden als budget bestemming bij backpackers, iets waar niet iedereen blij mee zal zijn. Ten oosten van Don Khone en iets ten zuiden van het plaatsje Ban Thakho liggen de spectaculaire Khone Phapheng stroomversnellingen. De altijd zo serene Mekong perst zich hier met donderend geraas door een nauwe doorgang en transformeert in een woeste watermassa.

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Taken on July 22, 2009