Khon Island, Old French Railway, Dolphins and Waterfalls, Laos
The only access to Muang Khong Island is by boat. No bridges connect to the mainland so all vehicles, motorcycles, etc., come across by ferry. The island is only about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide.
The first boat stop this morning was Khon Island about 1-1/2 hours away to visit the old French Railway. There were many, many tourists who spend several nights on Khon Island…relaxing, riding bicycles around the Island…View image…and enjoying the ambiance. Especially since accommodations here run a whopping $1.50-$2.00 a night. And, they looked nice and clean…
The French built a railway in 1917 anticipating travel by rail through the entire country into Vietnam with the intention of exporting teak wood. Unfortunately, they came to the Khone Pha Pheng Waterfalls on further explorations which were impassable. That put a stop to that idea and the railroad was abandoned. The Mekong River in Laos is unnavigable. All that remains of this 6.5km railway line is a rusted out locomotive in the field and dirt roads without rails because the locals pried up the metal rails to use for fences and other uses. .
Walked to the river on dirt paths, and loaded up on little boats, three in each, and motored out to a ROCK, looking for Irawaddy dolphins (they live in salt and fresh water, are extremely endangered, and there may only be 600 left in the world). We did see a small hump emerging from the water every now and then but they don’t come close. So, there we sat on this extremely uncomfortable ROCK for an hour, while another boat with tourists pulled up and sat on the ROCK next to our ROCK, and then a local boat pulled up to our two ROCKS, selling beer and Pepsi. There are experiences….and experiences…and this was not one of them.
Finally off the rocks, there were some interesting sights along the river, channel markers left by the French …View image…, and trees permanently bent from the winds.
Back on dry land, lunch at a little restaurant, and everyone piled in our two canopied boats, heading towards the mainland. The big, comfortable bus was waiting for us for the short drive to the Khone Pha Pheng Waterfalls. The Waterfall is the biggest by volvume in Southeast Asia and located at the southern end of Si Phan Don where the Mekong River fans out.
The Khane Pha Pheng Waterfalls are often included on the itinerary of dolphin-viewing day trips. My suggestion? Drop the dolphin viewing! Before long, there will be 100 persons sitting on one rock.
The Waterfalls were definitely worth seeing, quite beautiful, and, there was an ice cream seller at the lookout point. Back to the Villa Muong Khong for one last evening.