September-gram

Here are a few snapshots from September that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.

First day of 1st grade! Off to afternoon school to learn some Lao language.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:37pm PDT

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Trying to stay dry in the pouring rain. #notgonnahappen A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 3, 2015 at 6:06am PDT

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Boat races!

A video posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:07pm PDT

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Highlight of the boat races for these two was getting to pick out a balloon for the first time. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 12, 2015 at 6:09am PDT

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The best place to ride bikes around here is at the neighborhood temple! It’s where all the kids play after school.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 16, 2015 at 6:50pm PDT

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“grilling fish” by the river. Who needs toys? 🌿 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 20, 2015 at 6:40am PDT

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Every kid’s dream… To drive her own Tuk-tuk.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:05am PDT

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Soaking up some family time before high season starts up here. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 8:36pm PDT

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A spectacular Saturday evening sunset over the Mekong River. #nofilter A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 6:20am PDT

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What were the highlights of September for you?

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Elephants! (tour guides part 3)

I have a minor obsession with elephants, and up until now have never been on one for more than 5 minutes, so I was super excited that we were planning on taking our guests to an elephant camp! We figured with two more adults helping out, we could manage our three children for the event.

2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 25)We found a great deal for a new elephant camp outside of town and decided to give it a try. They took us out in their van, and after an introductory speech about elephants and a welcome drink, we went over to meet and feed the elephants. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 25) 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 25)We then loaded up and trundled off for our 30 minute ride. We took three elephants – one kid on each. Our particular guide, was very happy to take some pictures of us.  He ended up hopping down off the elephant and taking dozens of pictures, to my surprise later when I looked back through them.  Good thing it’s a digital camera!2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 25)To his credit, he got some great shots, like this one. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 25)And some “creatively framed” ones, as well (above).  At one point we got a little nervous, because he wandered so far away taking pictures of scenery and everyone else, that we ended up alone on our elephant, and our elephant got to doing her own thing.2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 25)The ride was fun, although rather short. But, that actually turned out to be a good thing, because it was blazing hot out that day! 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 25) 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 25)After the ride, we spent a little more time with the elephants at the feeding post, and one of the elephants was pretty interested in Isla and ended up slobbering snot all over her baby carrier!   2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 25)By far the best part of the day was bathing the elephants. I guess they got pretty dirty on our little walk.2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 25)I think the elephants enjoyed cooling off as much as we did.  Riding mine in the water, was like riding a bucking bronco! Of course, I have no experience on a bucking bronco, so I may be being a little dramatic.  2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 25) 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 25)The mahouts (“elephant wrangler” to the layperson) said that only one person could go at a time, so the girls waited on shore. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 25)I again got ditched by my mahout and ended up riding solo.  A little adrenaline makes the experience that much more exciting! 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 25) 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 25)We explained to the mahouts that our girls don’t know how to swim yet, but they still wanted to have a turn bathing, and they reassured us that they’d take good care of them. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 25)Getting sprayed! 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (18 of 25)And again. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (19 of 25)Ryan’s brother and Elise were the last to go in. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (20 of 25)

Nothing better than a clean elephant!2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (21 of 25) 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (22 of 25)Elise got her turn washing her elephant.2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (23 of 25)She also got a good soaking. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (24 of 25)The girls absolutely LOVED it, and wanted to get back in right away. 2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (25 of 25)We got to say one last goodbye to the elephants before heading out.  Elise left in tears, because she hadn’t had enough time with the elephants.  I’m sure we’ll be back sometime in the future, because Mommy’s as fond of these massive creatures as the kids are!

What’s your favorite animal?

Off to the Boat Races – 2015

I’ve given over the reigns of my blog to Ryan to write about the Boat Racing Festival from this past weekend.  As you can see by his absence in the photos he was behind the camera all day.

2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (8 of 46)The Luang Prabang boat festival didn’t bring the tourist crowds that we expected.  But locals showed up from provinces all around to join in the festivities.  The Nam Khan River is only two blocks from our house and that is where it was all going down. The river road was set up like a street fair.  They had everything: helium balloons, grilled meats, grilled not-meats (like chicken feet and tails) and airsoft guns for the kids.  We spent the morning watching the open boat parade and a few of the first races.  Between the events on the river we indulged in some of the mayhem going on along the road.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (21 of 46)

With a lot of people visiting from “the countryside” we ended up attracting a lot of attention.  When I say “we” I’m really talking about the girls.  No one really seemed to pay me any attention.

2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (2 of 46) 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (17 of 46)

The girls really wanted to do something “fun.”  All the attention they were getting wasn’t cutting it for them.  So, we let them pick out a helium balloon.  Problem solved.  An eagle and Cinderella.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (11 of 46)The girls dressing themselves like twins that morning didn’t help the amount of attention we attracted.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (5 of 46)2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (41 of 46)

After some warm up laps, all 31 boats competing in the race paraded down the river.  I guess I could go out on a limb and call it a regatta.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (19 of 46)2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (25 of 46)

Some teams even had a couple ladies that joined them for the parade.   Not to worry, they won’t get a sunburn.  Precautions were taken. 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (13 of 46) After the boats paraded downriver, they all had to go back up river for the races, so we wandered the streets a little more to see if we could attract some more attention.  This (above) is my “Where’s Waldo” photo.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (16 of 46) 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (18 of 46) 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (26 of 46)Finally, the races got underway.  Teams race head to head with between 35-40 paddlers.  We watched a couple races before lunchtime rolled around and then took the kids home.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (12 of 46)

The novice monks had a birds eye view of the races from up on Mount Phu Si.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (42 of 46)Although Melissa and the girls were back at home gearing up for naps, the day was far from over for me.  My soccer team had a boat in the race and I went over to the other side of the river, where we had a tent set up to cheer our guys on.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (27 of 46) After winning the first race by a good lead, we were feeling pretty good.  Everyone’s looking pretty chill paddling back up river for race number two.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (22 of 46)

Between races the party boats would pass by.  Some of them seemed to really know how to have a good time.  As one of them passed by my friend leans over to me and says, “We should do that next year.”  My response: “Definitely!”

2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (28 of 46)2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (30 of 46) 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (31 of 46) 2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (33 of 46) I had fun snapping photos of the colorful teams and of this guy who got dumped off his boat on its way back up river.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (38 of 46)  These guys must have been hoping that the #1 on the back of their shirts would  bring some good vibes.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (46 of 46)

My friends discussing the bracket.  I studied the brackets for a long while and couldn’t make any sense of them.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (40 of 46) Some people came more for the selfies than for the boat racing.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (43 of 46)

Our team made it into round three and was up against the Heineken boat.  By the time they were passing us I knew that it wasn’t looking good for us.2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (44 of 46) Yep, not good.  We lost in the third round.  It was a good day anyways.  A 100% authentic experience.  Who knows, maybe next year I’ll work myself onto a team.

Kuang Si Waterfalls (tour guides part 2)

Another item on our list as tour guides, was to take Ryan’s brother and sister in law to enjoy the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls.2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (1 of 13)It’s always fun to watch the bears in the sanctuary on the way in. 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (3 of 13)First, we walked to the top to see the all the different pools and the big waterfall, and took the chance to scout out our options for swimming holes. Tip: get there early to beat the crowds and you can have a pool to yourself! 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (5 of 13)2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (6 of 13)The water is always pretty chilly, but a hot sunny day made it quite refreshing. It’s perfect for kids, even if they can’t swim yet, because there are lots of shallow areas to play and enjoy the slippery banks.  2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (7 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (8 of 13)An added bonus of these waterfalls is that this is the native habitat for the famous “fish spa” fish, so the dead skin from your feet gets cleaned up while you wade around.  Nibble, nibble, yum, yum!  Ryan enjoys watching unsuspecting newbies get nibbled for first time. Wait for it…!2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (10 of 13)The water has minerals in it making the water a turquoise color and forming a rough buildup on rocks and logs, making climbing and exploring super fun and easy. 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (11 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (12 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (13 of 13)We enjoyed a couple hours of swimming, then packed up to get some lunch near the entrance of the park before heading back home.

What is your favorite waterfall to visit?  Could your feet use a fish spa?

Mt Phousi (tour guides part 1)

2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (2 of 11)We were so excited to have some family come visit us for a couple of weeks this summer!  Aside from lots of relaxed time (and late nights!) catching up at home, it gave us the chance to see Luang Prabang as tourists again.  Ryan was able to take a few days off work, and we also made the most of the two weekends during their visit.2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (3 of 11)The temps were HOT! So, we went swimming a couple of times, and tried to cool off in the AC between outings.  2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (4 of 11)In the middle of Luang Prabang is Mt Phousi.  One evening we decided to make the climb at dusk to show them the view from the top of the town. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (5 of 11)It’s a LOT of stairs, but the kids love it and race on up ahead.2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (9 of 11)We were all dripping with sweat by the time we reached the top (along with everyone else!) but the views were worth it. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (7 of 11) 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (8 of 11) 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (10 of 11)Our kids were part of the attraction for a crowd of Asian tourists, but they didn’t seem to mind. We had fun people watching, as well as enjoying a beautiful sunset over the river before heading back down. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (11 of 11)2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (1 of 11)It’s also fun and much cozier during the winter!

What mountains have you climbed?  Have you ever become the tourist attraction at a tourist attraction?

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?

Mekong River cruise – upriver

Sorry about the silence.  Our internet has been TERRIBLE, and we’ve also been quite preoccupied with finding a new rental house – no luck so far.

Ryan’s job required that he experience the products he was selling, and the kids and I got to come along on this Mekong River Cruise.  Normally you choose between 2 days upriver, or 2 days downriver, but we did the full roundtrip, which meant 4 full days on the river!

2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (1 of 62)

The boat is quite big with capacity for 40, so with only one other customer on the way upriver, there was plenty of space to make ourselves comfortable.

2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (2 of 62)

The views were stunning, and it was incredibly relaxing to watch life go by on the river. Along the way, we stopped to see a few sites.  First up was Pak Ou Caves. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (5 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (6 of 62)There are hundreds of Buddha statues in the cave that have been put here over the last few hundred years.  Locals come here to worship on special days of the year. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (7 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (8 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (9 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (10 of 62)Back on the boat, the girls kept themselves occupied with drawing and playing with things they brought in their backpacks.  The snacks and meals served on the boat were perfect for the whole family, too. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (11 of 62)Personally, I just enjoyed sitting and watching life go by on the river.  Plenty of interesting sights, like these goats and pigs being transported on the front of a boat… 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (12 of 62)Or people going about their daily life on the river. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (13 of 62)Next stop off the boat was to visit a village. These people see a lot of tourists but not many with three little girls.2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (14 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (15 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (16 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (17 of 62)I was excited the boat was big enough for Isla’s stroller, although she never did nap in it.  She was still pretty happy for the whole trip, taking good naps in the baby carrier, and the stroller was great for mealtime.2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (18 of 62)We were frequently passed by these speedboats full of people wearing helmets.  Often, people don’t wear helmets when driving motorcycles around town, so I was very intrigued by the need to wear them on these speedboats. 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (20 of 62)Talia’s favorite part of the trip was making friends with other guests.   2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (23 of 62)

Enjoying more sights…2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (21 of 62)2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (22 of 62)Unloading precious cargo – the beverage of choice in Laos, Beer Lao!    2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (26 of 62)Not a bad beach for a landlocked country!  The cows are loving it.2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (27 of 62)The “lookout” at the front of the boat was the kids’ favorite spot, though I required them to have adult supervision up there.  The Mekong River is not tame at all!  I’m not sure even a strong swimmer could handle some of the whirlpools and undercurrents.2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (29 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (25 of 62)  We pulled into Pak Beng at dusk for our first night’s stay at the lodge.2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (31 of 62)

2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (45 of 62) 2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (46 of 62)

After a hot and somewhat sleepless night, we got up bright and early for day 2 of the upriver cruise which took us to the Thailand border.  Thankfully, after that first rough night, we all slept much better the following nights.  Stay tuned for part 2 – downriver!

What trips have you taken your kids on lately?