Mr Noi Guesthouse Review

Hotel/Hostel Review: Mr Noi’s Bungalows, Don Det, Si Phan Don, Laos

When it comes to choosing where to stay in Don Det, what you are really deciding on is the quality of the view from your hammock.

Outside of the higher end accommodation on the island what you can expect to get for your money aside from a hammock is a shack. Most likely it will have a flaw or two that you won’t like and will have to lump for the duration.

Last time here our shack lacked a sink. Teeth and hands had to be cleaned in the shower but my hammock overlooked the river so I was happy enough.

Deirdre, however, hates Don Det and disliked the volunteer who seemed to be running where we stayed last time. While we argued if we could put up with both a snotty German girl and not having a sink, she gave the last room to a solo traveller more quickly able to be less discerning.

Deirdre found another place a short distance away while I went on strike and drank a beer. It had a sink but lacked a toilet seat. There was some suggestion this would be remedied but I wasn’t entirely convinced.

The real issue for me though was the view. We were set back a little, on the other side of the slim track that serves as the main thoroughfare on the island, and could only see the river through a gap between buildings. With plans for the next fortnight consisting of nothing more than lolloping about in a hammock, smoking and drinking beer while keeping an eye on the river, this clearly wouldn’t do.

Mr Noi's Bungalows Don Det Review

We’d heard of Mr Noi’s from a travel friend that stayed here regularly. He told us which rooms had the better beds but the owners had taken his advice and upped the price of these a bit. Knowing my accountant already had the hump merely being here on the island we took one of the cheaper rooms, negotiating the normal rate down a little to 40,000 for staying a fortnight.

Mr Noi’s has a sink and – at least until he reluctantly had to go home to France – a much more likeable volunteer, but not much else, including no outside furniture. The policy seemed to be first come first take, so over the next few days we bagsied chairs and a table from departing neighbours until the Jones’ were surpassed with our acquisition of a ramshackle wooden three piece suite and a table.

Though most were considerate with noise, the layout of Mr Noi’s – a terrace of shacks rather than semi detached – meant the neighbours were a little close for comfort at times, especially when they weren’t particularly sociable. We took the hint and added our own slight unsociability to the vibe, doing that semi polite British thing of giving people their personal space by studiously ignoring them.

More difficult to ignore were the selection of dogs we nicknamed Itchy, Scratchy, Scabby and Scabbier. They would wander onto the deck at will, poke their heads between the railings to see if anything of interest was taking place on the water, scratch to the brink of exhaustion, and settle in for a nap.

One – by far the least disgusting one – belonged to Street View, the Aussie owned bar next door. In return for our informal and unsolicited pet sitting we bummed his wifi as soon as we spotted his signal. Mr Noi’s does have its own wifi, but not as good. Neither is their dog. It, and its prospering civilisation of fleas, was chased away to bother someone else.

The cockroaches that hung around at night in the bathroom couldn’t be dealt with so easily. I’d become quite adept at keeping their numbers down in Kanchanaburi but here they knew that I knew their best strategy to avoid being stomped on would be to escape into the bedroom where they’d be an even bigger bother.

Mr Noi Guesthouse Don Det Review

Outside, other insects were a major pest come dusk. We’d drawn the short straw by having one of the two lights for the whole terrace outside our room. Every flying bug in the area met up at ours each night to dance in front of our collection of geckos, drown in my drink or fly into my face.

Largely absent though were mosquitoes. This was very fortunate as the mosquito net didn’t quite reach the floor in places and had holes the dogs might have got through.

Aside from the poorly maintained mozzie net I’m not going to be too hard on Mr Noi’s for the complaints given above. I’m sure other guest houses of a similar price range, in the tropics beside a river, have a similar litany of problems.

For my number one criteria though, Mr Noi’s passes with honours. The vital view from a hammock, though slightly obscured by the wooden railing of the decking, is cracking here. Boats pootled up and down the Mekong, children laughed and played in the water, and tourists more active than us went past daily in their canoes. And I got to see it all.

Mr Noi’s Bungalows. Sunrise Blvd, Don Det

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