Source: Vientiane Times
Siphandon is well known as an impressive visitor destination because of the stunning scenery around the Mekong River, the intriguing local lifestyle and the massive waterfall that never ceases to amaze.
If you visit Siphandon (4,000 Islands), the one thing you shouldn’t forego is a boat ride to the Khonphapheng Falls as the trip will give you a true taste of how the locals pass their days.
The waterfall is the largest in Southeast Asia and is the main reason that the Mekong is not fully navigable into China. The river is characterised by thousands of islands and countless waterways, giving the area its name. To be honest some of those ‘islands’ are more like rocks in the water appearing or disappearing depending on the changing water level in the dry and rainy seasons. It’s certain that no one has ever counted all these rocks and islands but nevertheless it is a charming name.
To see the miracle of water and life in the area just buy a ticket at your guesthouse or restaurant and a boat will pick you up at 2 or 3pm. Don’t go too early as the sun can be without mercy. And going later makes it possible to return during the incredible sunset.
The boat will get you to the waterfall in 40 or 50 minutes but don’t forget to ask for a life jacket as the boatmen most likely won’t have any.
Along the way, you will see lots of islands, rocks and rocky outcrops, against the backdrop of the broad Mekong and the daily activities of riverside communities. Some of the rocks are not created by nature. When the French were trying to make the Mekong navigable they put concrete blocks as navigation aids in the middle of the river – silent witnesses of the history of that region.
The boat can’t get close to the waterfall as it’s too dangerous, so it stops at a point from which it’s a 10-minute walk. But soon you will be able see the spray that rises up into the air like smoke.
As you walk you will see plots of watermelons, sweetcorn and yam beans growing by the river.
The falls are ext ensive and you need to spend a while there to look around but you need to return to the boat by around 4:30pm as that’s the best time to make the return trip.
The boat goes very slowly and takes about 90 minutes to get you back to base and by then the sun will be setting. These 90 minutes will create memories that will remain indelible as the colours thrown across the water by the sun are truly amazing and make you feel utterly contented and at peace with the world.
At this time of the day the resident water fowl return to roost and you will see whole flocks flying home together. It’s as though they are in a flying competition because they are all in a long line.
At the same time on both sides of the river there will be small boats in which a few fisherfolk will be setting up their nets. You might also see some small boys steering the boats for their fathers as their contribution to the daily ritual of harvesting the Mekong for its life-sustaining fish.