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?

weekend adventures: mother's day

I guess I spoke a bit too soon about the hot weather being passed, as it’s been quite warm again this week.  So, when Ryan asked me what I’d like to do to celebrate mother’s day, I immediately knew I wanted to go swimming.

So, after a delicious breakfast and some adorable and hilarious handmade cards from the girls, we rented a motorbike for the day and set off in search of a good swimming spot.  We took the road heading north out of town that follows the river and just kept our eyes open.  We didn’t have much of a plan, but hoped we’d find somewhere to cool off and enjoy the picnic lunch we’d bought at the market.

2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett-4After maybe 15 minutes of some beautiful views, we spotted this little place off the road that looked like it was meant for guests.  There was a row of little huts on land and some floating huts in the water.

2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett-3We made our way down the little village road and arrived at the spot.  It turned out it was a little restaurant that even had inner tubes for rent.  We chatted a bit with the friendly owner and found out he was the one who installed our internet.  We didn’t recognize him.  Oops!

2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett-2The water was quite deep and there wasn’t much of a shore, but we had fun, nonetheless.  I think we’ll continue our search for the perfect swim hole, but we had a great Mother’s Day here.2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett-5 2014-05-15 river swim by Melissa Crossett-6

Me and my girls (all 3 of them!)

Excuse the blurry phone pics.  I didn’t bring my camera along this time.

What did you do for Mother’s Day?

weekend adventures: kayaking

A couple weeks ago our company planned an outing for the Women’s Day national holiday.  The plans included a short kayak and then lunch at the confluence of the two main rivers here.  The rivers run through the National Protected Area, and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Since we have our two girls, we didn’t plan on kayaking, but instead to go ahead to the camp and wait for the others there.  However, we got caught up in the excitement and at the last minute decided that we could indeed, as a family of four, join the kayaking trip.  It is dry season so the river wasn’t too swift.

2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-9 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-5After a rough start with a few minutes of solid crying from Elise over her makeshift life vest, and one of Talia’s floaties deflating, we had an awesome time.  The girls especially loved the mild rapids and squealed and laughed each time we went through them.  Ryan is a awesome steerer and paddler, so I was able to just paddle as much as I could without worrying about it.

2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-12This is the only picture of us, and unfortunately, you can’t even see the girls who were both sitting between us.  Once we got to the camp, we enjoyed some time in the river and the stunning views.2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-3 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-8The kids were fed lunch before the others, which consisted of grilled fish, sticky rice and fruit.2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-6 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-7Open wide, fish.  Yummy herbs coming in!2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-10 2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-4

2014-03-27 kayaking by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-11When the adults got around to eating, our lunch also included some greens as well as spicy pickled greens.  The pickled greens are like a local sauerkraut or kimchi.  I couldn’t get enough of them!

We had such a great time, and now we’re considering buying some legit child life vests in Thailand or the US so that we can do it again sometime but with a little more peace of mind.

Been on any exciting trips with your family recently?

weekend adventures: Tai Dam village

We decided that we’ve done enough home improvements for now and we needed to spend more time out of the house.  So, we’ve started renting a motorbike on the weekends and planning day trips to see different things in the area.  This last weekend, we visited a Tai Dam village about 5 minutes out of town.

Tai Dam village weavingI’m so fascinated by the way these ladies weave beautiful cotton and silk fabrics.  It was really fun to watch up close.

Tai Dam village weavingThe ladies pulled out a bunch of their finished products for us.Tai Dam village weavingWe also drew a bit of a crowd.2014-03-06 DSC_5894Talia loved looking at all the beautiful cloths.  Elise, however, is never too sure about all the attention.Tai Dam village weavingWe continued our walk and stopped to watch 3 more ladies working on their looms. I suppose it’s nice to have company.Tai Dam village weavingIt sure looks complicated!2014-03-06 DSC_5910Talia says she wants to move into the village.Tai Dam village 2014-03-06 DSC_5915We walked through the village as everyone called out friendly greetings.2014-03-06 DSC_5920We passed some tidy gardens,2014-03-06 DSC_5922and made it down to the river. Talia and Elise tried to get close to the geese and ducks, but they are probably a bit too accustomed to children and moved off before the girls could get near.2014-03-06 DSC_5924The water was irresistible, so we had to at least get our feet wet.  Unlike some others, though, we kept our clothes on.Tai Dam village Tai Dam village Once noon rolled around, we set off on a ride around the countryside and looked for a place to enjoy our picnic lunch.  2014-03-06 DSC_5941The rice fields are all dried up,  but the little huts are still standing.2014-03-06 DSC_59392014-03-06 DSC_5935We ate our lunch, then headed home for naps.  We can’t wait until next weekend!

What did you do this weekend?  Do any of you photographers have tips on taking pictures in the middle of the day?  It isn’t always feasible to go at dawn or dusk.