We proceeded to Anouxa Guesthouse at the next village of Ban Mungsen where a boat would take us across the Mekong to Ban Muang at the east coast. We descended down a steep stair until I saw the other travelers, one of whom was the Swedish guy I avoided yesterday; the one who loved the Thais because “they’re very open” – and by that he meant they were welcoming to sexually-starved foreigners. Shivers! What’s worse, I had to sit behind him. Though I avoided conversation, he soon started chatting away and I was too civil not to reply. God forbid that he starts getting plans of heading towards the Philippines and feast on my compatriot’s “openness” as well.
Morning traffic at Champasak. This is one of their very few commuter trucks.
Taking the boat at Anouxa Guesthouse's jetty to Ban Muang at the east coast of the Mekong.
Upon arrival, a vibrant old guy named Mr. Phoumy – of “Villa Kang Khong”, he would emphasize – zeroed in on me. It actually sent red flags, but I was open to whatever offers he had to say. He was peddling day tours to a waterfalls that, until then, didn’t catch my radar – Khone Pha Phaeng. In situations like these, one has to be very cautious, nay vigilant. But this doesn't mean you have to shut your mind altogether. What if this were legit?
My boarmates from Ban Mungsen from the west coast to Ban Muang at the east coast. The Swedish guy is the silver haired gentleman 2nd from left.
Mini-bus aka van carrying travelers from all over! This was essentially a Caucasian ride and its lone Filipino guest - moi! :)
The mini-bus from Ban Muang to Hat Xai Khun.
Waiting room at Hat Xai Khun, the village across Don Khong.
Mr. Phoumy sells days tours to Don Det, Khone Pha Phaeng, etc.
To this day, I keep wondering why out of all the travelers in the boat, he had to stake his business savvy on me. Heck, Caucasians surrounded us; they had dollars, euros, kroners and zlotys painted on their faces. I was proudly third-world economy, with my measly Philippine peso. I hardly look affluent with my worn out jeans, crumpled shirt and worn (but expensive - excuse me - pair of shoes). Mr. Phoumy was indeed legit! I asked around to be sure. But sometimes, it’s the vigorous peddling that gets your defenses up.
Don Khong's enviable jetty under the tree.
Fried rice with vegetables and chicken at 20,000 kip.
Don Khong's short bridge leads you to a row of guest houses and riverside restaurants northwards including Pon's River Guesthouse (below)
The sun had been blaring its heat for the past week so I knew an AC would comfort my tired feet. After a quick shower and a 15 minute nap, I hopped out and went to the riverside restaurant of my hotel, amusingly labeled “Pon’s Liver”. I ordered “fried rice with vegetable and chicken” (20,000 kip – curiously 1/4th the price of my room) and a coke (5,000 kip – the price of my Mekong crossing). I was to meet Mr. Phoumy for my foray into Khone Pha Phaeng which is said to be Asia’s longest riverine cascade. It dawned on me that I saw a painting of this river cascade back at Saythong Restaurant in Champasak. I started to get excited.