4000 Islands, Laos

Imagine scores of tiny little islands glistening in a vast river delta in the middle of the country. That’s what 4000 Islands in the Mekong River looks like during the dry season. Yet when I arrived on a small ferry boat with a noisy outboard engine, the water level was so high after weeks of rain that only seven of the largest islands remained above the current.

4000 Islands must be one of my favourite places in the world. I intended to spend one week in this unique region, but ended up staying three. One of the islands, Donk Hone, has the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia.

Most of the islands are so small that you can cross from one side to another in about 15 minutes. This makes it perfect for capturing some incredible sunrises and sunsets. In fact, some of my best photos were taken just after sunrise, or in the late afternoon.

 

I made my base on Don Det island. It was a good point for venturing out to some of the smaller islands. Sometimes, I got physically stuck in the rice fields. Luckily, the locals would come and help me to get out. Everywhere I went, people were extremely friendly. I don’t speak the local languages, and nobody spoke English. Still, we managed to communicate. On one of the islands, Don Asteram, I did a jungle trek and got very lost. Luckily I bumped into a road that led me back to civilisation. I then visited a small fishing village where the locals kept inviting me into their houses. They were extremely kind and treated me to some amazing food.

Boun OK Phansa

On another day, I had the opportunity to photograph a boat race. After the event, I stayed with a very kind local family. I slept on bamboo – something that takes getting used to. In the morning, we went to a festival that celebrates the end of the rainy season. It’s called Boun OK Phansa. Please see a separate article here.

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