Sailing, Takes Me Away….

My brother-in-law sailed my sister to me. It’s very extravagant sounding, but it’s the truth. I was sitting on Railay Beach in Thailand with my family. The sun was beginning its set. Meanwhile, texts were being exchanged between the two of us: “Can you see that cruise boat?” she texted. “I think you just passed us,” I wrote back. It was very, very surreal. And then, before we knew it, my niece and nephew were headed toward us on a dingy boat. We waded out to them in the low tide as Vincent pushed them in to us because the current was too strong for their oars. Once in the dingy’s motor got revving, we sped out to their catamaran sailboat. I hopped off and into my sister’s arms. It was a magical reunion–one I will not forget.

My sister’s husband’s family are sailors. Julie is a sailor–she has been since she dating Matthew at 15. Sadly Matthew’s father is gone, but his legacy of sailing, sailing around the world lives on. It was so spectacular to witness this gift that Mike and Carol Collins’ have given their family. Sailing is dynamic, adventurous, and very fun. I had to keep from squealing at times so as not to be disruptive. Both Vincent and Kevin were able to get involved helping with the sails. It definitely took the expertise of the captain, Matt, and his able crew to get us to our destination. Meanwhile, I was completely awed. It was very special for me to witness how and why sailing is so vital to my sister and her family. It was a unifying task of all involved–even for someone like me who simply just took pictures.

Not all of the sail is frenetic. There are bouts of calm filled with lazy lounges on the decks, gossip amongst the girls, and dips off the deck into the blue waters. Sailing in Thailand is magnificently beautiful with the colors changing before one’s eyes. It’s always sparkly–either from the sun rays filtering through to make diamonds on the water or the blue sky intensifying the turquoise sea water. Of course, the song, the favorite family song, “Sailing, Takes Me Away….” was on full blast and smiles were plastered on everyone’s faces.

Here we all were in the blue waters of Thailand as a Krembs/Collins family sailing away! Oh, it was pure magic!!

Thank you Carol/Frammie/Benny for sharing your family’s love of sailing with my family.

Have you ever been sailing?
What do you think of it? I’ve always thought it to be a thrilling experience ever since my dad took my sister and me as little girls–but that’s a whole other story for another day…

The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife
I knew for my two week trip through Rajasthan that the perfect book to read would be The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan. I had already read this book while living in India–and the sequel too, The Feast of Roses. Both are so beautiful depicting the life of Mehrunnisa and the love story–no triumph might be a better word–she experienced with the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. All the descriptions of life in the harem, behind those intricate laced walls, depict women as quite powerful, especially Mehrunnisa. She set her sights on her conquest and didn’t stop until him and her goal were captured. Mehrunnisa was the the last empress of the Mughal Empire, and she was Jahangir’s last and twentieth wife. For an exciting, political, cultural, and romantic story that transports the reader to a sultry and mysterious place and enchanting time in Indian history both of Sundarresan’s books, The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses, are definitely worth reading. I love them both and feel like a MaharAnnie myself while reading them–especially while traveling through magical Rajasthan where all the history happened.

How do you choose books for when you travel? Can you recommend a book to me?

The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife

*This post has been linked up to #iwillwearwhatilike.


I feel like reminiscing….Was it really two months ago when I was trapesing around Rajasthan, India. I want to take a moment to relive that trip. It’s funny: I’m at an educational conference this weekend  where the world becomes quite small and one’s experiences get shared. I am always so proud to say that I lived in Mumbai–or rather Bombay as I prefer to call it. Those five years from from 2004-2009 have made such an impact in my life: so much so that I feel part Indian inside. Without getting too religious, I had an interesting conversation with my daughter recently. She was telling me that I had to give God (the Catholic one) all my devotion. She claimed it wasn’t possible to go halvies with Ganesha and Jesus. I simply listened; I didn’t attempt to argue with a 13 year old. But, I definitely don’t agree. Does that make me pagan? We’re saving this question for my mom–the lady who was a nun for five years and can get quite philosophical just like her granddaughter. The point is, how could I not have many gods after witnessing 20 years of different cultures and religions? This summer will mark 20 years married, 20 years overseas. After six countries and so much travel all over the world, I’ve got all sorts of ways of praying and many deities that receive those prayers. I think this is ok. Hopefully, one day, my daughter may think the same. One thing for sure that is a commonality that I find amongst all the religions I know of is Confucius’ Golden Rule: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” With this rambling reminiscing I’ll end by wishing you a great day and an even better weekend!

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USS Midway

USS Midway 6
Just in time for Labor Day, here is one last summer post from our trip to San Diego where we spent some time aboard the USS Midway. I’ve mentioned how great the trip was from sunsets on La Jolla Beach to alone time and date nights with Kevin. We cruised along promenades on bikes and watched surfers and seals on the rugged beach. Summer is so long gone now–we’ve been back in Hong kong since August 4th (Kevin July 30th!), and the Hong Kong rainy season is definitely settling in. Gone are days at the beach and long gone are days our at our summer cabin. This is the last series of pictures from our time in San Diego, but the memories are here for keeps. One of the best things we do at the start of each summer is take a little trip with Kevin’s folks. They happen to be our very best travel partners with half exploration and the other half sitting around looking for the next ice cream shop. I feel lucky that we are able to travel so much with my in-laws; this sort of bond doesn’t happen for everyone. Enjoy these pics from our touring upon the USS Midway, and if by chance you copy this same itinerary, make sure to eat at Puesto afterward–best darn tacos in all of San Diego! (Ask for the kitchen special!)

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Of course I caught a candid of Gigi in front of a wall of her very favorite color: GREEN!

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Wild Zuper Junior and Wild Zuper Senior (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)

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“Danger” meaning stick your arm in all the way to find out why….!

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USS Midway 1
Busted–I did match my outfit to both the tour of the USS Midway and the taco stop at Puesto later on. I can’t help it. I like to match my occasions!

USS Midway 9

USS Midway 11
I guess we really can’t fault him: another example of the apple not falling very far from the tree!

USS Midway 17

*This post has been linked up to Sheela Writes.

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!

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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!)

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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!

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Sunsets in La Jolla

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The sea is magical to me, and the sunsets that accompany it, well, I stop to experience them when I’m anywhere near water. Water and the sunset, they keep me happy. On our recent start to Summer ’16, we had some amazing sunsets in La Jolla, San Diego. It’s rare that Kevin and I leave the kids, but this summer we did for three nights before they came down to join us in San Diego with their grandparents. We had such a good time. The last time we did this was nine years ago, but now we’re only about six years away from being an empty nest (YIKES!), so the nights away were cherished but probably won’t happen again any time soon. It’s ok though: we’re a tight little traveling family that usually accompanies one another everywhere we go. Of course it was quite nice to have a little alone time with my husband; we’ll be celebrating 19 years this July 25–as well as 19 years overseas! Yes indeed, time flies (when you’re having fun;)!

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Sunsets in La Jolla 3
My cute fishy Louella Odié bag made it to California!
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My hair goals have been achieved! I’ve got my husband’s hair. Back when we first fell in love in 1993, there’s a picture of the two of us in our similar long locks. We could pass as siblings instead of lovers!

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Here’s my blooper pic! The waves were crashing–hard! I was afraid of being pommeled a couple of times!

Kevstar Travel Tips: Vol #2, Airline Ticketing

PassportsA while ago, when we had the most fantastic trip to Bali in October, I realized I should start sharing some of Kevin’s expertise in the form of his travel tips. He’s an expert at figuring out our travels, and we do travel quite a bit. Lately, he’s been busy at it lately figuring out our summer travels, so I asked him, How do you go about booking our airline tickets.

I thought I’d share his main three main travel tips when it comes to finding flights–especially since I was surprised by a couple of his moves.

1. Pre-research

First Kevin has an app on his phone called Sky Scanner. (Here’s the website for Skyscanner if you prefer.) When we have a trip up ahead of us, he’s looking at this app constantly. It does exactly as it says and scans the flights from all airlines for the designated destinations and dates (how’s that for unintentional alliteration!). When travel is up ahead, Kevin will begin his research using Skyscanner.

2. Cross Reference

Once some lower fare prices present themselves, Kevin will start to compare on other sites–Kayak being his favorite. Again, he will more often than not use the Kayak app on his phone for this. He simply does this to cross reference the prices, the itineraries, schedules, plus any additional offerings.

3. Purchasing

After some solid observation, usually 2 weeks but even up to two months, Kevin will purchase. This is the area that surprises me. Just like his habit of going straight to the source with hotels, he does the same with airlines. Even though Kevin has used Skyscanner to learn of the flights and cross referenced on Kayak, he will ultimately purchase direct from the airline. He does this for one main reasons: he’s working with the source. Our tickets when purchased through the airline are then under the direct jurisdiction of that airline. There is no extra worry of surprise limitations or costs. In general, he has found the airline carriers to be more reliable plus our information is then detailed in the airline’s system. Basically, there hopefully is no reason we would get lost in the airport shuffle! Seat assignments can be chose ahead of time as well as checking in the day before. If you haven’t done this, try it. It’s amazing to just walk up and hand over the bags. Easy peasy!

What about you? Do you have any travel tips for booking and purchasing airline tickets? Do share!

By the way, here are our summer plans: we’ll be in the Pacific Northwest from June 12-August 8. From June 19-27 we’ll be in Seattle and for all of the month of July we’ll be out at the cabin at Spirit Lake, Idaho. Will we see you this summer?!

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!!

Rooftop Dancing to the Drums

Rooftop Portrait
Rooftop dancing to the kids drumming was a late afternoon activity for us pretty much each day during our recent adventure travel to Lijiang, China. We had an awesome little room at such a sweet quaint hotel. It had an open loft with two large twin beds for the kids up above. In the main area was a nice, huge king bed for the folks–us! There was also room for a sitting area plus the coziest wood oven fireplace one could desire in this hearty, cold locale. To top it off, our room had a little entry way with an outdoor tub–I couldn’t take enough baths. We quickly created an afternoon routine: we’d arrive home and Gigi and I would take a hot bath. Vincent would assemble and light a fire. Kevin would pour us a glass of wine. Then, just at dusk, we would head up to the rooftop terrace. Cards were an option, but mostly the kids would just jam out on their drums. It was the perfect way to unwind from the day. For a family traveling to Lijiang, China, I definitely recommend staying at the Lijiang New Huifeng Resort Hotel. There are two establishments by this owner in the little village north of Lijiang called Shuhe. We recommend the one on the edge of Shuhe village; the other one is right near the pub street in Shuhe. For under $100 US a night, we had an amazing family room that suited us just perfectly. Unfortunately there is no website for this hotel, but here are the reviews on Tripadvisor; Kevin booked by calling the hotel directly. Immediately ask for Patti–she (and only she) speaks English. Ask for the family room with the loft and fireplace: +158 8756 9046.

Kids Drumming

Fringe Blanket Sweater

Girl Drumming

Fringe Wrap Sweater

Some Outfit Details

Fringe Blanket Wrap Sweater: Boutique in Shuhe Old Town–when I saw this sweater hanging in a shop high up on the wall, I made a bee-line straight to it. I named my price in my head, and the vendor met me readily. I think I payed under $20 US for it. Of course I was drawn to it: colorful and fringe. What’s not to love!!
Evil Eye Necklace: TJ Maxx
White Blouse: HM
Black Leggings: Vince
Studded Booties: Target

Fringe Sweaters

The best part about this sweater is that it feels like I’m wearing a blanket. Now, of course I am not able to provide you with exactly this same sweater since I found it in a Chinese village, but I did go shopping around and found some fringe worthy blanket alternatives. I know for the summer, I actually need warmth, so this one is coming to the cabin with me. My summer in the Northwest always starts on the colder side, so if I can have summer worthy sweaters, I’ll be set. And sweaters that wrap around me like a blanket….I can just imagine sitting by the campfire now!

*This post has been linked up to Brilliant Blog Posts.

I Can’t Get Enough Bags!

bagsOn my most recent trip to Lijiang, China, I made a self discovery: I love bags! I really can’t get enough of them. I already own so many bags: clutches and totes, embroidered and beaded, straw and leather. Yet, when I’m traveling and in the markets of a destination, I am just drawn to all the bags like a bear to honey. It’s really odd; I know I don’t need another one, but then, I’m just taken with them! They’re always so intricate and unique. The bags of a locale demonstrate the artisans of that spot. They’re like special pieces of eye candy for me that I must take home. Some women have a caving for shoes, maybe others makeup–for me it’s definitely bags. My bags are overspilling yet; I have way too many of them. But, I can guarantee, I’ll find a few more! Some people collect charms from their travels and others magnets. I’ve come to the conclusion mine is bags!

Do you have item in your closet that is just overflowing? What can you NOT say no to?

By the way, I couldn’t actually decide on one of these bags, so I have four. Now that I’ve chosen two, that means there are two extra–for you! I’m giving away two of these lovely embroidered, fringed, AND beaded bags! All you have to do is introduce me to two new people on my Instagram feed @krembdelakremb by tagging them on this picture. Who do you think I should follow? I’d like to know of two people in your Instagram feed that you’d think I’d like. Tag two friends, and you might just win one of these bags!

*This post has been linked up to Brilliant Blog Posts, Whims Wednesday, Style Sessions, Monday Mingle, Let It Shine, and Passion 4 Fashion.