Mekong River Cruise – downriver

I hope you weren’t holding your breath for the second half of our river cruise! If you were, you would be dead by now so wouldn’t be reading this warning! Life has been a bit too full for blogging this summer.  We recently did this same river cruise for the second time, so these images are again fresh in our minds. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (32 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (33 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (35 of 62)Since we already experienced the villages on the way up, we opted for running and playing on the beach on the return trip. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (36 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (37 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (38 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (39 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (40 of 62)The girls did great taking naps to the sound of the river rushing by. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (41 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (42 of 62)  2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (48 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (49 of 62)When they needed something different to do for a while, the girls listened to audio books and sang along with the Frozen sound track. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (50 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (51 of 62)Water buffalo 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (52 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (53 of 62)At one of our stops, a boat crew member bought a monitor lizard.  Looks like the crew will have a delightful feast tonight! 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (54 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (56 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (57 of 62)We even got to see some elephants along the way!2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (59 of 62)A downpour of rain made for some cozy cruising. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (60 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (62 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (61 of 62)Arriving back home!

You can see part 1 here. What did you do this summer?

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the hair-washing joint

I have not used shampoo for over three years now, and I’ve loved it…. until now.  It took me a while to realize something was wrong, but I just couldn’t seem to get my hair clean with my regular routine.  Over time, it seemed to get sticky and tangled and no amount of scrubbing in the shower made any improvement.  It wasn’t just my hair, but the girls’ hair, as well.  After a little reading online, I figured out that hard water was the problem.  We have very hard water here, so much so that it leaves a white layer of mineral deposit anywhere it dries.  And from what I read online, that doesn’t work well with my non-shampoo ways.  The solution for most people, is to get a water softener or a shower head filter, but since that isn’t an option for me right now, I have resorted to washing my hair once again with shampoo.IMG_50142015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettThe cool thing is that there are hair washing shops on every block here.  I can think of at least 5 or 6 just within walking distance from my house.  So, I decided if I was going to use shampoo, I might as well go all in and have my hair washed professionally. IMG_50052015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettAfter picking out what type of shampoo you want, you lie down on the “hair washing bed” and they wash and rinse your hair not once, not twice, but three times with as much lather and scrub as you can imagine. They also give you a little head and neck massage in the process. IMG_50072015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett Then they rinse with dipper after dipper of cold water.  Then comes the conditioner. IMG_50102015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettWhen I took Talia in for her wash I asked them to trim Talia’s her hair as well, but that is optional. IMG_50112015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett IMG_50122015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettThen, they’ll blow it dry for you.  I opted to skip that part as I’m not too keen on having hot air blown on me when it’s already 99 degrees out! IMG_50152015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett

I have to say, having my hair professionally washed was quite an enjoyable experience.  And it only cost $1.50 for Talia’s wash AND a trim!  Of course, now my hair is back to it’s frizzy and limp state, but at least it’s clean.

I still have a lot of questions about hair washing practices here…. Who goes to get their hair washed?  How often?  Is it routine or for special occasions (like no water in the house!)?

The hair washing place also offers an ear cleaning service.  Ryan thinks I should give the professional ear cleaning a try but the tools they use look like they could be used for some kind of torture technique so I’m going to take a pass.  It would make a great blog post, though.

Would you go to get your hair washed?

Should I Ryan go for the ear cleaning?

fun at the Nam Khan River

2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (1 of 9)

Like we said in our post about biking, Luang Prabang is the place where the Nam Khan River meets the mighty Mekong.  Most people have heard about the Mekong.  It’s a pretty impressive river.  Here in Luang Prabang, it’s already pretty big and moves quite fast – a little bit intimidating.  But we’ve also got the Nam Khan, which is a little more tame and friendly.  There are beautiful sandy beaches for the girls to play on (although, littered with the occasional broken bottle that we try to avoid.)2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (2 of 9)  During the dry season there are two charming bamboo bridges that visitors cross for a fee.  You can see a couple pictures of them on our Instagram feed (as well as many other’s tourist’s instagram that visit here!)2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (4 of 9) 2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (5 of 9)

The girls have fun collecting river weed on sticks just like the local kids.  The river weed here is dried in sheets and fried for a snack.  It’s one of our favorites.2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (6 of 9)

We also had fun one day catching tadpoles with the plan to take them home and watch them grow into frogs.  We should have done some internet research first, though, as we ended up killing them because of our negligence.  We’re read up on frog raising now so we won’t be making the same mistakes next time.2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (7 of 9) 2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (8 of 9)The Nam Khan has been a great place for us to go if we have a free hour or two and want to relax while the girls play and explore.  We’ve talked about swimming in it but haven’t yet.  2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (9 of 9)Where do you go to chill out when you get the chance?

weekend adventures: butterfly park

Ryan is going to be doing some of the writing here now so that we can keep this blog going!  So start checking the author if you’re wondering which one of us wrote it.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (1 of 17)

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Laos.  Wanderlust magazine rates Luang Prabang as the top city to visit in the world!  We’ve often missed enjoying the places we’ve lived because we’ve been so focused on life and work.  So, this time we’re trying not to let this golden opportunity slip by.  We’re living here now, so we might as well figure out what all the fuss is about.

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (2 of 17)

The Kuang Si butterfly garden is listed as one of the top places to see.  We’ve been pass it before on the way to the waterfall of the same name but didn’t have time to check it out.  With a family full of girls it is bound to be a hit!2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (3 of 17)

The Dutch couple that put this place together did an amazing job in a relatively short amount of time.  The grounds of the park are beautifully landscaped and full of butterfly attracting flowers.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (4 of 17)

At the end of the path is the main attraction – a huge butterfly enclosure.  There can be up to 80 species of butterflies in here during rainy season.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (5 of 17)

One of the best things about the park for the girls were the admission tickets with the butterflies on them.

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (6 of 17)

I decided to just go for it with the closeup butterfly nature shots.  Nat Geo will probably be knocking on my door next week.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (7 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (9 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (10 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (11 of 17)

We’ve got a couple information nerds in our family, so really enjoyed the guide they gave us at the entrance to the park and learned a lot.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (12 of 17)

A little bonus was the free fish spa.  I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of these.  They usually have them at a spa.  You stick your feet in and the fish nibble off your dead skin.  Lucky little devils!2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (13 of 17)

There was a lot of squealing going on from the tickles.  Sad to say, I didn’t get to do it, so I guess I’ll be nibbling the dead skin off my own feet.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (14 of 17)  2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (16 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (17 of 17)We are having fun taking advantage of where we are living right now as local tourists.

What’s the best thing to do in your area?  Have you gone and done it?

weekend adventures: biking to the river

2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 12)On the weekend, we love getting out as a family and getting to know this quaint little town of Luang Prabang.  Before returning, I found a Burley bike trailer on craigslist that had never been used, so I bought it and brought it over as one of our check-in bags.  I was envisioning being able to get around with the three kids on my own, but that hasn’t really happened here.  There are a few too many hills and busy traffic roads for my liking.  But, when Ryan comes along, we can use it.  You wouldn’t believe the stares we get from some of the locals who have never seen such a thing!  I just hope we don’t cause an accident with all the rubberneckers! 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 12)

The kids love riding in it and taking in the sights.  Our favorite spot so far, is down at the end of the peninsula where the Nam Khan River meets the Mekong River.  It’s gorgeous and complete with sandy beaches and hand made bamboo bridges.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 12)

The girls could play for hours with sticks, rocks, water and sand.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 12)There is so much to see and explore, like tadpoles, little fish, and river weed.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 12)These are the kinds of experiences I just LOVE giving to my kids.  2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 12)We also found some decent quality bikes and trikes for the girls to ride here at home.  They spend hours on them, though it’ll be a long time before I trust them to ride on their own around town. 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 12)For now, Isla is snug in a baby carrier and usually enjoys a nap on our bike rides.

Do you bike as a family?  Where are your favorite places to go?

weekend adventures: Lanten village

We’re back in the US now enjoying seeing everyone and doing most of the things on my top 5 list.  It has been surreal jumping back into American life.  Some of my favorite quotes from the kids, “ooh, these stairs are so comfy!” (talking about the carpet).  And Talia excitedly telling everyone that the bathroom has hot water.

I wanted to share these pictures from our last weekend adventure before we left.  This Lanten village is only a 10 minute bike ride from our house.  It amazes me how close they are to town, but that they still maintain so much of their culture and tradition, even wearing their traditional dress.

2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-3An old man working in his rice fields. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-4A beautiful little girl with her traditional clothes on. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-5 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-7 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-8Even though the pants he’s wearing look like jeans, they are actually the traditional pants that the men wear. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-9 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-10Hanging out laundry. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-11Rice storage house 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-12 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-13Quite the load! 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-14 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-15 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-16I enjoyed chatting with the ladies and bought a couple of beautiful handmade souvenirs from them. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-17 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-18They hand weave and indigo dye their own fabric. 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-19 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-21 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-22Lots of little babies! 2014-06-12 Lanten village by Melissa Crossett-23 We always enjoy our time in the villages.  It feels like a slower pace of life with plenty of time to sit around and visit.  People here are always so friendly.  You can read about our other weekend adventures here.

Have you ever made something for yourself to wear?  Did you actually wear it?