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?

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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?

our favorite luggage

2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (1 of 5)(Talia as a baby in our first set of bins)

When we moved to Southeast Asia 5 years ago, we looked around for a sturdy but inexpensive way to pack our things.  We did some research and found these Contico Storage bins and they’ve served us well all these years.  They aren’t perfect, but they fit the dimensions for airline check-in bags, are light-weight and at around $30 are WAY cheaper than buying suitcases. With a couple small alterations they can handle a relative amount of abuse during travel. From their website it seems they’ve come out with a newer model, so maybe they’ve improved some things.2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (2 of 5)

Each time we’ve gone back to the US for a short visit (or to have a baby) we’ve picked up a couple more.2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (3 of 5)

They’ve really come in handy when storage in some of our houses has been limited.  We’ve used them in place of a kitchen cupboard, extra counter surface and also as a bookshelf.2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (4 of 5)They work great for neatly storing things we aren’t using on a daily basis.2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (5 of 5)

We even built our bed last year to accommodate storing them underneath!

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What’s your favorite piece of luggage?

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?

quick kitchen project

When Ryan sent me this picture of the kitchen of a rental house he looked at, I was pretty stoked!  A kitchen inside the house!!  After last year’s kitchen, I was ready to move back to an indoor kitchen.  So, we signed the lease and moved in.  There really wasn’t much work needed to make it livable, besides cleaning and purchasing a few basic items.  But, we didn’t have room to bring our solid wood counter we had built last year, so there wasn’t a lot of counter space in the kitchen.

2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (1 of 10)I make a pretty big mess when I cook, so I don’t do too well with limited counter space.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (2 of 10) 2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (3 of 10)

So, my handy husband decided to make a shelf for the dish rack to sit on, which would extend the counter and free up space to pile the dirty dishes.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (4 of 10) After measuring the nook where it would sit, as well as the counter height, he brought some boards home on his motorbike and built a frame. 2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (7 of 10)

Then he used a piece of leftover plywood to make the top.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (5 of 10)2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (6 of 10)  2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (8 of 10)Finally, he bought some clear plastic and stapled it over the top, protecting the plywood from becoming a mushy rotten board. Start to finish, the project only took part of the afternoon.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (10 of 10)Now I have a great spot for all those dirty dishes.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (9 of 10)

And, bonus – the bottom has a little room to hold kitchen towels/rags and plastic bags.

Are you a messy or neat cook?  Where do you dry your dishes?