Clockenflap, 2017


Oh I love Clockenflap! It’s such a fun weekend!! From listening to cool tunes to people watching cool folks, the weekend is a thrill for me. This time around I brought my little point and shoot and took over 600 pictures. Eeek! I know. I’ve chosen just 40 for this post, so if you want to skip, no hard feelings. But, if you enjoy people watching as much as me, keep reading….



Cashmere Cat was RAD! He’s so cool to watch. Both Kevin and I turned to one another and said how we could see Gigi up there doin’ that sort of thing.

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Rug Lane Markets–Save the Date for November 11th!

Rug Lane Markets

Over here in Hong Kong, we take advantage of every single second hand swap experience we can. Enter Rug Lane Markets. So far I have attended two of the Rug Lane Markets as a buyer and one as a seller. In fact, everything I am wearing in this post is from Rug Lane Markets. I picked up this chic jumpsuit from my girlfriend and fellow blogger I’m a Norbyah–I was so startled to fit in it because I am literally twice her size, but it works. I love how I feel and look in this jumpsuit! The booties too absolutely thrill me. How many years have I been wearing tennis shoes? I can’t keep track; suffice it to say it’s been a long time. When I tried on these never been worn Zara booties, it was love at first sight! Yes, there is a little itty bitty heel, but my legs can handle it. It’s like having a pair of high heeled shoes, and it’s an understatement to say I’m ecstatic! The necklace seemed like a no brainer: it was only $10 HKD. Why not, right? So in total, the jumpsuit was $50HKD, the brand new Zara shoes $150, and the necklace $10. Boom! New super chic outfit for $210HKD which is like $30 US bucks. I was so pleased with my Rug Lane Markets purchases.

Now for the important news:
Rug Lane Markets is having an event this November 11th. Click here to buy your tickets beforehand, or show up at the door. But, definitely come with some moolah because I guarantee you’ll need it! I’ve already bought my tickets and can hardly wait to attend–not this Saturday but the next. Save the date: 11/11/17 at 12:00!

Rug Lane Markets

Rug Lane Markets

This $10 bauble is actually from Accessorize. What I love best about it is how tarnished and vintage it looks. The previous owner wore it down to perfection!

Rug Lane Markets

These Zara studded booties were such a score! The lady bought them, but was never able to wear them because they were too small for her. Go figure. They are actually a size too big for me, but with a pair of insoles they fit me perfectly. I can wear these shoes all day long. WIN WIN!!

Rug Lane Markets

Rug Lane Markets

Rug Lane Markets

Hong Kong Readers, will I see you at the Rug Lane Markets on November 11th?
I sure hope so. Say hi!!

*I’ve linked this post with Jess’ Turning Heads Tuesday, Catherine’s #iwillwearwhatilike, and Samantha’s #fakeittuntilyoumakeit.

Kremb de la Kremb Designs

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be an actual designer? I can remember when I read my first Vogue magazine… I was probably about 14 years old, and I would draw pictures from what I saw. Aside from daydreams of becoming a designer, I also had thoughts of working for the actual magazine. These thoughts were only in my head; they never escaped my lips. I was a small town girl, the oldest of five kids. There were expectations of me to go to college, but for what I was never really sure. A job in the fashion industry remained as a silent dream, and luckily I found another passion in literature. I wouldn’t have known how to articulate those fashion whims even if I had tried. I don’t have any regrets–my path of life has been extremely wonderful, and it has been with my literature degree that I was then able to become a teacher. With Kevin by my side we’ve accomplished one of our joint dreams which is living abroad. And now at 45 years old, I feel so fortunate to be embracing some of those old, younger self dreams that I only thought of with wonder.

This past Saturday Kremb de la Kremb designed (again) for the high school fashion show. (The first time was two years ago with five formal dresses.) This time around I made ten embellished bandana kerchiefs. I have enough jewellery to fill a treasure chest, so I simply adorned the scarves with costume jewellery that wasn’t being worn. My tailor Yee helped to hand sew them on. Now, tomorrow night, I’ll attempt to sell them with a spring shopping party at my home with three other ladies. Sue will be showcasing her jewellery line, Maria will be sharing her dresses (or frocks!), and Lauren will bring along the Louella Odié handbags she and her mother create. I’ll share my bandanas and I’ll also introduce Younique makeup to the guests. If you are one of my Hong Kong readers, and you would like to join us tomorrow night, please feel free to come on over. Here’s the evite; we’d love to shop with us at this Spring Shopping Party!

*By the way, I designed this jean jacket. I’d love to make more. All you have to do is ask, and I’ll tailor make one just for you.

Seal Rock in La Jolla

Seal Rock in La Jolla 6
It’s hard to believe school has started for the Krembs family and August is just about to end. Summer in Hong Kong is gratefully still going strong, so trips to the beach will continue on into October, maybe even November. Meanwhile, I am reminiscing about how our summer started in La Jolla, San Diego. The last time (and first actually) I had been to San Diego was as a junior in high school. For this trip to southern California, it was so very fun to start out with just Kevin. We had three nights all to ourselves; it had been years since we’d gotten away like that. Then, three days later Kevin’s folks joined us with our two kiddos. We have such fun traveling with his mom and dad, and while this is going to sound very spoiled, starting our summer vacation out with a little trip away to somewhere new sets us up for an amazing summer as a family!

Seal Rock in La Jolla 10
There are so many highlights to visiting San Diego. One of our top activites included a trip to Seal Rock. The seals are just with in reach perching and sheltered on their rocks. Meanwhile, out at sea, the waves are ginormous and the surfers are crazily going about catching them! I mean, whoa! I’d be totally scared of running into the rocks or even more scarily being taken out to sea. The surfers on the other hand were apparently not phased. My other top activity was biking: we biked around Coronado, along Pacific Beach, and all around La Jolla. It was such fun to hop on a cruiser and, well, do just that–cruise!

Seal Rock at La Jolla
We really do have the best time traveling with Alex and Jane. We’ve taken road trips with them as well as gone camping with these two. They’ve always come to visit us wherever we’ve lived, and we’ve also taken trips abroad–one of our favorites being a trip to Greece. A lot of times couples have other couples that they travel so seamlessly with; I never would have guessed it would be with my in-laws, but we truly have the best times together. I find it to be so valuable for our kiddos too. Living overseas obviously means we aren’t around for the entire year. That’s why quality time definitely has to outweigh quantity times. Luckily this is the case with Jane and Alex!

Seal Rock in La Jolla 9

Seal Rock in La Jolla 3
I have so many layers on in these pictures: underneath that DIY patched denim shirt is a sweatshirt and a long sleeved shirt. It is very important to wear layers while visiting San Diego–it’s a gloriously hot/cold place especially in June. One minute the sun was out, the next the wind was howling. At all times it was comfortable–just so long as I had my layers. (I get cold easily!)

Seal Rock in La Jolla 5

Seal Rock in La Jolla 7

Seal Rock in La Jolla 8
These two….Alex has always been called The Wild Zuper and now his son is definitely Wild Zuper Junior!

Seal Rock in La Jolla 1
Finally, here are the kiddos: Gigi and Vincent. What fun memories were had during this first summer trip to La Jolla, San Diego in June of 2016!

Seal Rock in La Jolla 2

Thursday is the New Friday

This Thursday is the new Friday. At least for me. My summer has been a paradox of emotions. On the one hand it’s been so fun to reconnect with family and make  new memories. On the other hand, my hip pain has gotten to such a drastic point, that I must take action. This decision isn’t made all on my own: I have an amazing husband who helps and supports me so much, and my two kids are there to give me the love and attention that they as children should be receiving–not their mom! Just recently the pain got to such an excruciating point, that we made an appointment for my hip replacement this September 2nd. Than, as if it was a miraculous night, the office wrote to say there was an opening this Friday, August 5th. Yet that was the day I was traveling back to Hong Kong with the kids. However, my husband’s nickname isn’t KevStar Travels for nothin’! He managed to switch our tickets home for Wednesday. So, yes Thursday is the new Friday–I leave for Hong Kong today on Wednesday, arrive on Thursday evening, and check into the hospital on Friday morning. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I am so excited to get this hip out of me and start to get the old, yet youthful and active, Annie back. Perhaps this post might give some insight into Kremb de la Kremb’s low activity level these days.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some little items that make my 14 hour flight a little more bearable….

What’s inside my Louella Odié Beach Tote?

Louella Odié Lattice Tote 1
This bag was the perfect beach bag during my recent trip to Hua Hin over Chinese New Year. I packed in a hurry, and knew I wanted to match my beach bag, so I only grabbed black swimsuits from the swimsuit box. I couldn’t be bothered to figure out which ones suited my body right now, so I just through them all in. I love the chic black and white design of this bag. I recently found out that included in the print’s design you’ll be able to find a coffee cup, a mobile phone, a lunch box, and a spoon. Can you find the designs? I still can’t find the lunch box….

Here’s what’s inside my Louella Odié Beach Tote:

Sunscreen of Course!

Louella Odié Lattice Tote 2
Canvas totes as beach bags are perfect. If by chance the sunscreen were to spill, the canvas is always easy to clean. Plus the pliable fabric allows for easy clean out of all the accumulated sand. There really isn’t a more perfect beach bag than this Louella Odié Lattice Tote. Here are the sunscreens I keep inside:

  • Our family go-to sunscreen for years over 15 years–NO-AD, SPF 30
  • Only for mommy’s face–Elta MD Skincare, UV Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
  • Something about oil makes me feel more tan! Banana Boat, Protective Tanning Oil Spray Sunscreen SPF 15
  • The application on this one is beyond easy! Neutrogena, Ultra Sheer Face and Body Stick SPF 70
  • Plenty of Lippy Options

    Louella Odié Lattice Tote 3
    I love when a tote has a separate little bag that attaches inside. This Louella Odié Lattice Tote does, so it meets my criteria for the perfect beach bag. Usually, this pouch is filled with my phone and lip products. It’s definitely a good idea to wear SPF on the lips as well as the entire face, but I usually cannot be compromised for color! Therefore, I grab a variety, grab for one, and am usually pleased by what gets pulled out.
    My favorite and most used during this most recent trip ended up being the Neotrogena stick. Sometimes a favorite just happens!

  • There’s something pretty sweet about this color–Neutrogena, Moisture Smooth Color Stick in Sweet Watermelon.
  • This Wet ‘n Wild is unfortunately sold out, so I use it sparingly. The color intensifies with your temp.
  • Every now and then, Gap will have lip balms at their checkout–grab one. They are sensational. My favorite has always been the Sweetmint. And these have SPF 22 which is on the higher side for a lip balm.
  • Another great stain with a cherry taste! Maybelline, Baby Lips Candy Wow in Cherry
  • Don’t Forget the Basics

    Louella Odié Lattice Tote 4
    Of course my beach bag would not be complete without reading material. There will always be a book inside–preferably my own paperback copy since I rough them up pool and beachside, plus a few magazines. Add some sunnies and offer me a local beer, and I’m set!!

    My Beach Bag

    There you have it: all this goes in that bag. Plus there’s room for a cover up or a towel or even the shells Gigi collects on the beach. Oh, all this beachy talk….When’s Spring Break!?

    Will you be traveling to a beach? What bag do you like to use? And what’s inside yours? I want to know what I might be missing!

    *Remember, if you’d like to purchase this Lattice Tote, make sure to take 15% off with the code KREMBDELAKREMB.

    Traveling with Louella Odié Lattice Collection

    Louella Odié Lattice Crossover and Tote 2
    I felt like a lady of leisure travelling with a set of three (!) Louella Odié bags from their Lattice Collection. In transit, carrying all three at once felt very chic and extremely put together. The fact that I pack with a color theme AND seem to always travel in black and white meant the Lattice Collection and I were meant to be. Take a look at the way I used all three bags on my most recent trip to Hua Hin, Thailand for Chinese New Year break:

    Hands free with the Lattice Collection Backpack

    Louella Odié Lattice Backpack
    My travel uniform always consists of these comfortable black trousers and a blazer. The trousers feel like I’m in pajama pants, and I wear a blazer on every single flight because you do never known when the airline might need me to turn left when I get on the plane. Even if I do travel in economy, I like looking nice enough that I feel like I could pass for business. You know me and my motto: If you think you are, you are! (This goes for long haul flights too; changing into comfies mid flight takes up about 15 minutes of the 13 hours!) One of the main reasons I felt so good travelling most recently was because of Louella Odié. I love carrying three of their bags. I just felt beyond chic! With the backpack taking me through immigrations I appreciated the third strap on this Louella Odié Lattice Backpack: the bag can be held as a purse or strapped to the back. While travelling I really appreciated the versatility from the backpack–plus it’s so cute!

    Beach and Pool Ready with the Lattice Collection Tote

    Louella Odié Lattice Tote 2

    Louella Odié Lattice Tote

    Lately, for this year’s school breaks we’ve hopped over to Bangkok and then driven down the short distance to Hua Hin. It’s the perfect little get away offering sun and beach or poolside. On our most recent excursion we stayed at the lovely Haven in Hua Hin. Our room opened up to the pool offering access for a quick dip, and our suite even had a rooftop sun deck. The food was excellent, so we never had to leave–unless we wanted to. The beach is pleasant enough, and when the sea calmed down enough we were able to swim in the ocean. Sometimes, no all the time, a little rest and relaxation is all you need. The Louella Odié Lattice Tote went with me back and forth from room to pool to beach and then back again. It was the perfect beach bag. (Stay tuned for what was inside later on this week.)

    Market Shopping with the Lattice Collection Backpack

    Louella Odié Lattice Backpack Market
    I’ll be honest: one of the reasons I love returning to Thailand so often has to do with their night markets, and Hua Hin has a couple of really good ones. Night markets are great for the whole family: I get to shop while the rest of the fam sits down and orders dinner at one of the street cafés. I’d say the items I usually score at the Thailand night markets are groovy sunglasses, unique purses, and interesting graphic tees. This Louella Odié Lattice Backpack was perfect for storing my goods while letting my hands do the grabbing!

    Louella Odié Lattice Backpack 3

    Louella Odié Lattice Backpack 2

    Passport, phone, and lippy in the Lattice Collection Crossover

    Louella Odié Lattice Crossover 2

    Crossover bags are my most favorite style of purse. They’re light and don’t fit much, so this style of bag never causes me any back pain. Basically, all I ever need when I’m out and about is my wallet, phone, and a lipstick. Same goes for travel; I just added my passport. The thing I really, really like about the Louella Odié Crossover is the five pockets inside. There are exactly five perfectly sized compartments–each for a little something different. I can’t decide which bag out of the three is my favorite, but I will say that I might be nudging toward this one. It really is the perfect crossover bag, and with that unique lattice flap, it’s something special.

    Louella Odié Lattice Crossover and Tote

    What do you think of the Louella Odié Lattice Collection?

    Which bag do you prefer? Or are you like me and love the idea of travelling with a set? I definitely have a little bias toward each one, so I can’t really choose. The best part about this collection is the black and white color scheme that matches just about everything!

    Do you feel compelled to purchase a bag (or two!) from the Louella Odié Lattice Backpack” target=”_blank”>Louella Odié Lattice Collection? If you do, makes sure to take 15% off when you checkout with the code KREMBDELAKREMB.

    {Potential} Summer Reading List, 2015

    Summer Reading List 1Summer Reading List 2
    Summer reading is the best! There are hours in the day that can just be spent reading. I love my summer reading and look forward to it with a yearning. I’ll be reading all summer long: I can read in the car on the road trip between Spokane and Seattle, there’s my lovely cabin porch and my glorious bed that’s perched in nature, and there’s time in the summer sun on the dock, beach, or boat. I don’t have to worry about how long it will take me to read a book because I’ll have the free hours to put in to it. I love my summer reading and just thinking about it has generated some books I’ve wanted to read. I use Goodreads a great deal when determining the books I’ll read. I usually always shoot for a rating of 4.0 or over, but that’s not always possible. If the Goodreads rating comes in over 3.6, I’ll consider it–most of the time. I’ve included my summer reading book’s rating in parenthesis as a reference. Are you on Goodreads? Let’s follow! I’m Ann Krembs on this social network.

    {Potential} Summer Reading

    1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    I can’t wait to read the Outlander! First, it was recommended by Paige from House of Ginger (more about her later) and my mom. I enjoy reading books that come highly recommended. Then the book has actually become the plot for a television drama series–before I get hooked on that, I want to make sure and read the book. Here’s the premise: Claire is a nurse in WWII. She’s just been reunited with her husband, and they are on their second honeymoon. She happens upon a stone that she travels through and is taken to Scotland, 1743! I love time travel stories, and according to all that have read it, this one’s a winner. (4.16 on Goodreads)

    2. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
    Beautiful Ruins is one of those epic novels that spans 50 years. There’s bound to be plenty of characters and a great love story. The winning point to this novel for me is the Italiano in it. One of the main characters is an Italian man remembering and the stunning vision of a woman he remembers from way back. This tall, thin American actress arrived to the tiny Italian village and now he’s going to find her….Another great thing about this book is that it was written by a man from my hometown, Spokane! Also, I remember my sister devouring it a couple of summers ago. It’s about time I finally read it. (3.68 Goodreads)

    3. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
    Yes Please speaks to women advocating for themselves; I like books like this. I actually want to listen to this book–especially since Amy Poehler narrates it! She’s so funny. I just love watching her, and I have a feeling her book is going to hit home for me. The most recent review I read from Independent Fashion Bloggers really sealed the deal. I can’t wait to read this book and then be inspired. (3.8 Goodreads)

    4. The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle
    So, The Harder They Come isn’t really a book I would normally pick up, but…I’ve joined an online book club on Goodreads called Bookish Babes. This really neat woman that I mentioned up above started it. Paige is super fashionable, she’s a working mom, she writes a really cool blog, and she’s a reader. I have loved all Paige’s book recommendations and basically want to read anything she has liked. She recommended both Outlander and the next book It’s Kind of a Funny Story. For the month of May we were supposed to read The Royal We (my copy arrived on June 1st, so I’m a little behind), and for April we read FanGirl (luckily I had read that one). Anyway June’s book is The Harder They Come, and the moment I saw Vietnam veteran, violence, and anti-authoritarianism in the description, I was like, Uh oh. But, it’s a book club book, so I am trying to keep an open mind. The the keywords Central America and cruise also caught my attention, and I think I’ll be ok. T.C. Boyle wrote this book based on a true story, and it delves into the American psyche. Should be good and for sure interesting. (3.75 Goodreads)

    5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
    Lately, there’s been a new trend in young adult fiction, and I’m not even sure what genre you would call it. Suicide genre? Anyway, there are so many books about suicide; I’ve read a few of them and put down a few too. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a suicide story, but since it was written in 2007, it’s before this whole trend in contemporary young adult lit has taken off. In this story, the main character succeeds in getting into that choice school, but once in he’s driven to suicide. The real story begins when he’s placed in a psychiatric hospital: the crazies he meets there help him to find the source of his anxiety and not to mention the possibility of happiness. This book has been recommended to me various times, so I’m happy to read it, but it’s going to be hard. The really sad part about this book that will make it difficult in reading is that Ned Vizzini, the author, has committed suicide. He suffered from depression and took his life in 2013. This novel was made into a movie in 2010. (4.15 Goodreads)

    6. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
    Has everyone read The Rosie Project lately? I feel like I see it being read everywhere. Maybe it’s because my library’s copy is always on hold, or it could be that Kevin is reading it right now. Anyway, it’s about a man with Asperger’s syndrome who has never been on a second date. When one of his friends–he can count them all on one hand–tells him he’d make a great husband he’s of course shocked but then intrigued. What ensues is his very thorough and data driven Wife Project; the result, being Rosie, is surprising! (4.0 Goodreads)

    Summer Reading Books

    Have you read any of these books? Do you want to read any of them with me? Just let me know here or on Goodreads. I’d love to follow more readers out there!

    Rebel in Arabia

    It’s true: I was a Rebel in Arabia. Recently I was interviewed by a student since she was interested in the time that I had spend in Saudi Arabia. I love telling stories, and in talking with Rachel a ton of memories were sparked. Following is her lovely article about me–it actually brought tears to my eyes because she described this period of my life so well.


    Rebel in Arabia

    By Rachel Chiu

    “I had times when I was chased by the muttawa,” said Ms. Krembs, with a rebellious glint in her eyes. She laughed as she recalled the epic chase with the religious police, sparked by the black tunic that she was wearing. In Saudi Arabia, women have to wear the black abaya at all times.

    “I was with my husband and we were running through this really maze-like mall with crazy escalators and we ran into a restaurant to hide,” she reminisced. “We lost them in the restaurant. The restaurants always shut down during prayer time.”

    Having lived in Hong Kong my entire life, I couldn’t imagine living in a place with a religious police. A place where restaurants and stores locked their doors and pulled the shutters five times a day during the call to prayer. A place where women had to cover themselves head to toe in a black abaya. I couldn’t imagine it, but Ann Krembs, our very own librarian, lived through it.

    Mrs. Krembs and her husband moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1999 for a two year post at an international school there. It was the second international post that the couple had embarked on, the first being a stint in El Salvador. They would go on to live in Venezuela, Mumbai, India, and Beijing, before becoming our librarian here in Hong Kong. The couple taught at an international school owned by Saudia, the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia.

    “I had no idea what I was getting into,” she said. “I was just so excited to continue this international career.”

    Living in Jedda was a huge change from growing up in the small town of Spokane, Washington.

    “I was very naive about the world,” she said. “I just knew that I was moving to the middle east. My dad was so scared for me but I had no idea why. I just pictured these grand palaces…”

    Rebel in Arabia 3

    Her visions of grand palaces and decadence were certainly accurate. Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world. The land is rich in oil and at the time the rich in Saudi Arabia were just getting richer.

    “I’d never seen that much wealth,” she said.

    Although we as Hong Kongers can relate to the side of Saudi Arabia to do with luxury cars and designer goods, it is harder to relate to the religious side of this absolute monarchy. Women do not have equal rights to men in the kingdom. Under Saudi law, female adults must live under the guidance of a “guardian,” a male relative. Saudi women face discrimination in court and are required to wear a black abaya that covers their hair and body.

    “Did you know that women aren’t allowed to drive there?” she asked. “I had short hair back then and sometimes I would put on a baseball cap and drive around my compound just to be a bit of a rebel.”

    Although Ms. Krembs taught at an international school and lived in an international compound, she still had to abide by all Saudi customs. Now, Ms. Krembs is known for her vibrant style and love of fashion, but in Saudi all her colorful outfits were swallowed by the black abaya.

    Rebel in Arabia 1
    “I don’t march in protests, I’m not a campaigner, I’m not an activist. But I found that my rebellious spirit came out under all the restrictions. I just didn’t find it right that I couldn’t drive – couldn’t wear what I wanted.”

    “In restaurants, there were doors for men and doors for women,” she explained. “There was a partition between the two sides of the restaurant and I could see the other side but I was never allowed to sit there. I had never felt discrimination like that before.”

    It was difficult living in Jeddah for Ms. Krembs and her husband. She had to struggle between feeling oppressed and respecting the traditions and cultures of her host country.

    “One time we couldn’t get in a restaurant because of prayer time and I just had a mental breakdown in the backseat of our jeep. So much emotion was built up and I couldn’t stop crying,” she remembered.

    Her husband was her greatest support during their stay.

    “He always said to me, ‘Anne, you don’t have to accept it, you just have to tolerate it,” she said. She told me about how she didn’t feel like it was her fight. How she felt like it wasn’t fair for her to be angry at the restrictions because it’s an inherent part of Saudi culture.

    Living in a culture so different from her upbringing was very difficult, but the difficult living situation brought Ms. Krembs closer to her fellow teachers. She described her network of friends in Saudi Arabia to be one of the closest and most tight-knit communities that she has ever been a part of. She met one of her best friends, Shannon Coin, a librarian, while she was in Saudi. She wears a silver bracelet, a gift from Shannon, everyday as a reminder of their strong friendship and of Shannon’s classy spirit.

    “We relied on each other,” she said. “We all appreciated how different the culture was and supported each other through the transition.”

    Looking back on her time in Saudi, Ms. Krembs has fond memories of strong friendships, shopping for carpets and jewellery, and kind hearted locals. She left the country and moved to Mumbai in 2001 with a new found appreciation for freedom of expression and a greater understanding of world culture.

    “I realized that I have to be a guest in these countries,” she said reflectively. “I can’t go about changing anything. I need to embrace where I live and push myself out of my comfort zone.”

    Rebel in Arabia 4

    Adventure Travel in Yunnan: Lijiang and Shangrila, China

    We made it to Yunnan! Usually, our family trips consist of idyllic beaches found around Asia: for example this year we went to Bali in October and December and then Boracay in February. Beach trips are just easy; everyone’s happy. But, sometimes it’s important for the four of us to venture out of our comfort zone, and we did just that with this trip to Yunnan Province in China. Specifically we travelled to Lijiang and then later spontaneously went to Shangrila. Oh! It was such a fantastic adventure. Despite being terribly cold, we just embraced the entire experience. There were temples to see and monasteries to visit. We rode both bikes and horses. We hiked snow capped mountains and meandered through cobblestone villages. We toured hard in the day only to return to a wonderful hotel rooftop to relax layered up before dinner. We ate all sorts of Chinese food, and then finally, right when we needed it most, we found a wonderful Western establishment in Shangrila named Compass (once there ask for the cutie below in the animal hat named Eileen). We slept well on top of electric blankets that kept us warm and a fire with embers smouldering all night. The kids drummed, we listened to glasses of wine, and over meals we played a Chinese poker game called Big 2. The trip was jam-packed yet rewarding all the same. We had such an amazing time that I would highly recommend this trip to other families. Down below (after all the pictures) I’ve included more particular details. Seriously, take this trip! It was adventure travel at its best, and the Yunnan and its people are truly spectacular.









    Adventure Travel to Yunnan

    Getting There:
    It’s a little tricky. The main city you want to fly into is Kunming. From there, you can choose to travel to Lijiang, Dali, or Shangrila. We chose Lijiang and then drove 4 hours to Shangrila. Tiger Leaping Gorge is on the way from Lijiang to Shangrila which makes for a nice little pit stop. Basically with Kunming as the port of entry you have three charming towns (well, cities with old towns) to choose from.

    Best Time to Travel:
    This is a super busy place! It wasn’t too bad when we went, but it would be best to avoid traveling to the Yunnan during Chinese holidays. Also, to escape the crowds of Lijiang Old Town, we stayed in Shuhe Old Town. Shuhe is referred to as what Lijiang used to be like before it became so popular and built up.

    Staying There:
    We stayed in Shuhe instead of Lijiang and it was perfect. In fact we never actually went to the Lijiang’s Old Town because we Shuhe totally sufficed. We stayed at Lijiang New Huifeng Resort Hotel. Kevin had to call for our booking, and after the initial contact, an email correspondence ensued. Patti is the (only) individual at this establishment that speaks English. Giver her a call: +158 8756 9046. I would highly recommend the room we stayed in for a family with older kids: the kids had a loft upstairs with two large twin beds. Kevin and I had a gorgeous king that was so cozy next to the sitting room complete with a fireplace. The entryway had an outdoor tub that was used daily. This room was our perfect haven! Plus, we spent many later afternoons on the rooftop.

    There’s a ton to do in these old villages. Biking is a very common activity. We rented bikes one morning and one afternoon. There are bike rental vendors all over; they’re scattered about Shuhe’s alleyway corners. We easily biked to another little village called Baisha. It’s was a cinch navigating there.

    Horseback Riding:
    There was another hotel in Shuhe that we referred to often since this establishment caters to English speaking visitors. It’s called the The Bivou–it is lovely. Even if you don’t stay there, stop by. We almost switched to this hotel, but in the end our room at Huifeng was better where our family suite had a fireplace! Go to this little hotel immediately. They all speak English and will totally help you sort out your itinerary–even if you are not staying with them. We booked our horseback riding trip with them that included a (very random) boat excursion on a (super shallow) lake. (We will forever chuckle about that weird boat ride–think Venetian oars but your driver taking over because the little Chinese woman doesn’t know how to work the boat!) The horses are small little beings with a thick, shaggy fur. We rode up a a hill for about an hour and then worked our way back down. At the end, we stopped at a local’s home and enjoyed an experience of hot pot. It was actually very tasty! Again, The Bivou organized this for us. You can see all their itinerary plans here. On our final night in China, we arranged to eat here, and enjoyed such an amazing Yunnan cooked meal. It was reminiscent of our dinner with Pei in Beijing. Again, we highly recommend this cute little boutique/adventure hotel.

    Jade Mountain:
    One day we went to the jagged mountain you can see in the distance. It’s called Jade Mountain. Basically, we simply booked a driver. We had such a good driver that he knew exactly where to drop us and for what. It’s a very controlled expedition, so you can’t just drive in and look around. There are tickets to pick up and lines to enter. In the end we abandoned the main site because the line for the bus that would take us to the gandola was going to be over an hour. It all seemed a little pointless in the freezing cold. We created a back up fast! Alternatively we took a gandola up to the backside of the mountain where things were less populated. It was still so lovely, and luckily I had rented a red, long, puffer coat, so I was fine. Our advice for Jade Mountain would be to take the path less beaten. It’s all beautiful and majestic, so there’s no need to wait around for hours anywhere. Also, we saw the show–it was good. In hindsight, I would have seen the show after sightseeing, but timing wise a later show wasn’t an option for us. Definitely make a trip to Jade Mountain, but don’t be afraid of trying out alternatives field different from the norm.

    Tiger Leaping Gorge:
    We weren’t planning on venturing to Shangrila, but we had enough during the trip to deviate away from Lijiang, and I’m so glad we did. Shangrila is a four hour car ride away, and we split it with a stop at Tiger Leaping Gorge. We had ordered an extra pizza from the night before and brought that for a picnic. There are many steps to take down to the water, but it’s worth it. The views are so extraordinary you hardly notice an increased hearth rate on the way back up. There are a couple of different options for accessing this gorge; we simply chose the drive up one; it was the perfect pit stop.

    It’s so very sad, but in the winter of January 2014, the Shangrila Old Town burned to the ground. This almost stopped us from visiting, but slowly and surely they are building the old town back up. We stayed at . It was very nice with a super spacious room. I did not appreciate the smoking that may occur in the common courtyard, but smoking in China is everywhere! Aside from this inconvenience, the room was huge and very, very cozy–which was needed since it was FREEZING there. This is where we had snow!

    If I could have my way, I’d stay at one of the Songstam Hotels–there’s one right in the monastery village and another a short kilometer walk away. Whow! Decadence!! But unfortunately this luxury boutique hotel was out of our price range. Instead we had a lovely meal at the one that looks down on the Songzanlin Monastery. It was delicious!

    Best Restaurant in Shangrila:
    Another completely pleasant option in Shangrila is Compass. If you do not decide to stay there, you will definitely end up eating there. The food is soooooo good! They are by far the best restaurant in town with fresh baked goods daily. We had three meals there. We just kept going back. Plus, everyone at the Compass speaks English which was a nice relief as it’s hard to come by English speaking in Yunnan Province. (Don’t get me wrong. We got by, but it’s definitely part of the adventure!) We were able to plan our time in Shangrila thanks to Eileen who is a baker at Compass. She’s such a cutie. Tell her hello!

    Activities There:
    Aside from strolling around the town being built up, there is a gorgeous temple right in the center of the Old Town. Also, though, a trip must be made out to Songzanlin Monastery. Wow! What a site!! And what was so neat about it was the monks just going about their business despite tourists traipsing around their home. I really enjoyed this excursion–even though it was snowing and I was freezing my buns off. The kids too loved it!! Everyone took a turn with the camera.

    Kremb de la Kremb says “Go to Yunnan!”

    Our family thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Yunnan Province. If you are planning on going and have any questiosn, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me. I’d be happy to help you out! Go!! It was phenomenal!!