Laos

Mama Mon - Best Food and Accommodation in Lao's Don Dhet

by Kiwi on September 13, 2011

Mama Mon - Best Food and Accommodation in Lao's Don Dhet

Traveling in Southeast Asia is such a unique experience.

I felt so rough, so reckless, so ragged. So good!

We flew to Bangkok, arriving at 11pm, and took a taxi, not an official one but another one that was lurking around, dealt the price, and got to Khao San Road way faster than we would if we had taken one of the official taxis. And then my trip started.

I never booked a hotel or tour in advance. Nothing. And despite that, I started to feel that everything was...premeditated? I kept bumping into the same people over and over. “Hey, that’s the couple that we saw at the floating village,” I would tell my boyfriend, amazed. Getting off the beaten route seemed so difficult.

And then, when we got to Don Dhet (4 Thousand Islands south of Laos near the border with Cambodia on the Mekong River), everything started to flow in a different way. Don Dhet is a stunning island. When you get off the boat, you bump into the “center.” I call it the center because it’s where most of the shops and bars are. You also find some fancy bungalows there. But if you keep walking, you will find cheaper and quieter accommodation. The island has this vast farmland, where most of the locals work, apart from running restaurants and shops.

What is there to do in Don Dhet? You buy books, or swap them, and find yourself a nice bungalow with a nice hammock. If you feel active, you can rent a bike and go around the island and cross the bridge onto Don Khon, where you can take a boat to see the fresh water dolphins. There are beautiful waterfalls, especially during the monsoon.

There’s this charming restaurant called Mama Mon and Papa’s Restaurant. The family that owns it also runs Sunrise Bungalows, right next to it.

Let me introduce you to Don and Eg (probably misspelt, can’t get it right!). This young couple are parents to three adorable kids: two boys, ages 7 and 5 in 2011, and a baby girl. They are very nice and speak English quite well. They often work part time at the farm. Don is the best cook I’ve met in Laos, have to say. They are very natural, and if you hang out with them, you will get to see the lifestyle of people in Laos. I consider myself fortunate to have shared quite a lot of time with them, played with the kids, and learned some cooking tricks.

The bungalows are ragged. It’s a room with a hard bed and a mosquito net around--I found it very romantic--and a nice deck (balcony) with two hammocks and a table and chairs. What else would you need? There are way fancier bungalows out there, but if you compare the way we lived in the bungalow and the way Lao people live, we were already living in luxury! The best view of the river and a beautiful tree providing enough shade made it one of the best spots on the island. The price of the bungalows ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 kip, depending on the season. That is between 1.3 and 2.6 €, or between USD$1.8 and $3.6 a night for two people.

When I was there with my boyfriend, we ended up staying longer than we planned, and we did a mural menu board for the restaurant. It is the one shown in the picture with the family. The locals were very curious and the fact that two falangs, or foreigners, were doing “crazy” stuff with paint was definitely a laugh for them. They showed us their appreciation though. Even a neighbor brought us some mango sweets she had made herself. It’s very overwhelming to get on in the community, even if it’s just a little bit.


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