Eat and meet
Patience is the keyBe patient, be very very patient. Nearly all the places on Don Dhet have a very basic kitchen set-up, often little more than a couple of charcoal stoves. We've found the pace of service improving in recent years, but it's still pretty slow. The menus are all pretty much interchangeable (often containing the same typos as the place up the road, where the menu was copied from). The Lao dishes are nearly always fine, and occasionally very good, but interpretations of western food can vary tremendously.
There's a new star on the western food scene, The Pool Room, on the north end of the island, adjacent to Lanexang travel. They've built the island's first pizza oven, the cook, imported all the way from Vang Vieng, seems to have a good grasp of foreign food, cooking up good American breakfasts, pasta, Isreali dishes, and what not. They also have a pool table, 3,000 kip per game, the loser pays.
A bit to the south, Monkey Bar is trying desperately to get a foothold but having troubles getting up and running: right now, the restaurant promises a Korean-style barbecue, but you have to catch the owner when she's actually there and give her 2 hours notice.
There's also Oi, an Austrailian expat with a passion for baking. He has a shop across from the Phonepasak Guest House, but you'll also find him trundling around on his bike in the evenings with several tins of fresh backed goods strapped the back. The focaccia is amazing, and quite cheap.
Khamphong Restaurant, also on the northern tip, offers a menu much like many other places, but the owner is a French-Laotian returnee, and some of the western dishes have a nice, continental zest.
At the other end of the island is Santhiphab, where many tubing treks terminate. You'll only get sideways views of the sunset, but drinks are cold and the menu, while pretty standard fare, does offer a US$4 schnitzel dinner, as well as lazy service.
At about five o'clock, even if you're on the sunrise side, you should head over to any of the riverside places on the western side. The sunsets here are some of the best we've ever seen anywhere, and every night a completely different picture is painted on the sky -- make it a daily ritual.
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