Don Det

The boat ride to Don Det took around two hours to get from one island to the other. On our left, we could see the coastal settlements, along with their veggie farms and antique irrigation systems. On our right, islands of different sizes covered in stubby vegetation and some big trees. It was a nice journey surrounded by beautiful scenery.

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We set foot on land, picked up our packs and set out to find some food. We found a restaurant that had a huge food selection at decent prizes and decided to give it a try. While Tim was checking the menu, a local asked me if I needed acommodation, and offered me a bungalow for 30k a night (about 6NZD). It was a very basic room with a bed that barely fit in it and had a mosquito net, with a toilet bowl (no seat) and cold shower attached. That night we heard a something move inside the room, and the third day we woke up to find something had found our precious cocoa powder and feasted on it.

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That first day Tim wanted to use the internet that had not been available to us during our stay in Don Khong, but I was bored of sitting around and decided to go for a walk around the island instead. I only took a water bottle and my phone, so I could listen to music. My choice was an Argentinian rock band called Bersuit Vergarabat, and singing and dancing I made my way around the place, making many cat friends. Circling the whole place only takes about three hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. At the southern end of the island, a sign that said Shangri-La / home made ice cream got my attention but as I had no money on me,  I just bookmarked it in my head to return later. The album ‘Hijos del culo’ finished and I pushed play on “La Argentinidad al palo”. As usual, when the song “Luna de Valencia” played tears streamed down my face and I had to sit down to relax. The lyrics are about an Argentinian that left for Spain and drill deeply into any expat that has been away from home for as long as I have. Life is full of strange coincidences. I would later find out that my best friend Mari, who is currently backpacking in Europe was doing the exact same thing I was that very same day: Letting Bersuit dictate her mood, up and down, as she made her way through a strange place on the other side of the world…

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The next day, I convinced Tim to get out and walk around the island with me. This time, when we passed Shangri-La, I urged him to check it out. For those of you who have not heard the name before, it had first crossed my path as 60s band, that then lead me to investigate where the name had come from. We were not about to pass on a chance on discovering paradise within paradise!

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We walked in to find an Australian and a Finish guys playing checkers in this amazing pub. The décor was beautiful and it immediately felt like home. We ordered some ice cream and stuffed our faces with the awesome flavour. Once their game was over, we started chatting to them, and joined them for a beer. It turns out Dane, the Australian man had commissioned the place for two years, set it up as a chill out zone, adopted a bunch of cats (5 to my count) and was happily living here. His friend had arrived in this island many years before, and as many others continued to get away from their cold countries and spend as many months as work would allow in Don Det. It was really awesome to meet them and get a bit of their life stories.

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We shared that we were planning on leaving the following day, to spend Xmas at an unknown location in Cambodia, and Dane immediately invited us to a Xmas lunch a friend of his was organizing at a local restaurant called King Kong. His friend Mini, an English chef, was throwing a big party and most expats and some tourists would be there. We figured this would be a lot of fun and decided to visit the place on our way back. This we did, though Minni was about to go take a shower when we arrived, so we sat around drinking a second beer while we waited. There was something about this older skinny man that we both liked, and Tim mentioned he reminded him of Pink Floyd. When he returned, the first thing he did was push play on “Dark side of the Moon” and with that, inadvertently convinced us. He spent about an hour sitting and chatting with us, and when we reserved our places, we were surprised to find we had taken the last two available spots. Talk about right timing…

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The next two days we enjoyed the sunshine and peace of this pretty island. Don Det is narrow enough to let  you get up in the morning to watch the sun rise, and only walk 500 mts to see the sun set on the river on the other side. We tried a few different restaurants where we could watch the spectacle. We also encountered delicious pumpkin burgers, a great vegie substitute we loved!

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Xmas morning we woke up to Skype with our families. First we got to catch up with the Adriaansen family, and see them all joined together after the traditional huge brunch. Later it was my family’s turn, and we shared 12pm with them, as this is the time we really celebrate in Argentina.

At around 1pm we started walking towards King Kong. We were the first to arrive and chose the seats we wanted. The other guests were not far behind, and soon the place was full with many different accents and people of all colours. As promised, the food was utterly delicious, and we had an amazing time among newly found friends 🙂

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We returned to our bungalow to a surprise. The mouse that had been causing havoc had managed to fall inside the toilet boil, and was unable to get out and completely frightened. We took pity on him and helped him out to terrorize tourists another day. What else could we have done? He was cute and so helpless…

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The next day we took the boat to the closest town and jumped into a bus that would take us through the border  into Cambodia…

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