Friday: kayaking and dolphins

Our trip (who we booked with Wonderfull) included breakfast so I met Nicola and Andrew on the way and we headed off together.

There were 10 of us in our group, 5 of us from our bus, plus 2 guides, 2 people per kayak, so a nice small group. We had a brief ‘how to paddle/steer’ chat, picked up our hats, life jackets and paddles and headed for the kayaks.

I got to share with Nicola, me at the back steering, and after a few bushes were crashed into we soon got into the swing of it and were heading to see the first waterfall – Tat Somphamit – where they had massive fish traps to catch the fish as they come down the falls.

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We then had to navigate some small rapids, we stopped off to the side of one before going down, but as Nicola and I pushed off from the side the current was too strong for our steering and we were pulled along backwards and into/onto quite a large bush, but with nifty manoeuvring we were soon free and facing the right way!

We then got to point our kayaks towards Cambodia and go in search of the Irrawaddy dolphins!! Initially I missed all the v brief sightings, but eventually once we’d all stopped paddling and just listened/watched you could hear them breathing and then there they were! They’re pretty rare, apparently only 6 are known to live in the area we were in, we saw 2 at once so I guess that makes us pretty lucky.

We stopped in Cambodia for lunch, so random having only left there yesterday, did mean I could practise my language skills again though! Lunch was cooked by our guides, rice, BBQed veg/chicken and watermelon – v yummy

They were hard taskmasters as we left Don Det at 9, stopped 1hr for lunch, including cooking time, and were off again as soon as we’d finished eating.

Nicola and I were the first away and we paddled back out to the dolphin spot, there’s a deep pool in the river where they like to hang out, and again were lucky enough to sit and watch 2 of them swimming through the water for what felt like ages before the others caught us up.

The off to our next waterfall – Khon Phapheng Falls – the largest by volume in SE Asia with apparently millions of litres of water crashing over them every second – was a v impressive sight.

But before we could get there we had to paddle about 30 mins and when we came ashore discovered that not only did we have to drag our kayaks up the beach

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but also carry them up a hill to load them into a sõrngtãaou (like a lorry with 2 benches running down the sides) kayaks in the middle, us on the benches! Not the most comfortable journey but the waterfall made it worth it.

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By this point I think the exertions of the day were catching up with us, but we had 1 more paddle to do, back across the river from Nakasang to Don Det. This was timed perfectly so we crossed as the sun was setting, it was beautiful, the sunsets always are, but to be on the river at the end of a great day made it even more special.

We got to shore just after 5:30 so was a full day out and about. When we’d arrived the previous day we’d spotted a restaurant called ‘Gringo Star’ amazing name! As it turned out it had opened the day before and the owner was a friend of teepee John, it was also 2 mins from my place!! I suggested going for dinner there and everyone happily agreed. So after quick showers and a long walk for them and a long walk followed by a shower for me we all met and had a fab Mexican for dinner. After a long day there were cocktails, I tried a Despelado (their take of a desperado) Beer Lao, tequila and lime – yummy!!

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