Cooking School in Luang Prabang

For my birthday, celebrated in Luang Prabang, Laos, we all went to cooking school. It was such fun, and of course very, very delicious. Any good cooking school starts with the local market–in which we had an extensive visit. It was so fascinating, super colorful, and full of smells, both good and bad! The actual school was set in the jungle outside. Laos cooking involves two major components: a mortar for the mixing and a fire for charring. Laos food is surprisingly smokey in flavor and this would explain why. We each made our own food, so we could each decide how much spice we’d add; I usually added three red chili peppers. The food was so good as was the company. It was a really neat way to spend my birthday. And speaking of cooking school, all this week, I’m away on a school trip with 20 students in Chang Rai, Thailand for some Masterchef classes. I love cooking, so I think I scored with this school trip. I’ll try document some of what I learn. In the meantime, enjoy these colorful pictures of the market and some family fun from our trip to Luang Prabang. And if you travel there, make sure to take the Tamarind Cooking Class.

*Warning: there are A LOT of pictures in this post!

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I’m Lucky! A Reflection on Travel


I’m lucky, very lucky. I’m lucky in travel. When Kevin and I met, travel was definitely a common denominator for both of us. We met in Italy–I always add to this statement that even though we met in Italy, my husband is not Italian. When we fell in love, it happened fast. After just one month he declared he loved me through a kazoo on the top of the Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece. I said it back! Then the rest of that time in Greece we daydreamed about how we could travel together. What could we with our lives to allow for travel?


After that junior year abroad, we did return home to the States to finish our schooling. The traveling started then: I finished university in Seattle at the University of Washington while Kevin finished in Spokane at Gonzaga University. We flipped flopped back and forth all that last year always avoiding our parents’ homes, and yes we did get busted a few times sneaking around to see one another.


Fast forward past some life experiences that I’ll save for another post. We both went back to school to become teachers. One day, early on in our schooling, Kevin saw a flyer for an international educators fair. Upon some further research and absolutely no convincing, we signed up for the fair. I did have one concern though: I wasn’t going to move overseas with him without being married. We were engaged in November and got our first international job that February. We planned our wedding, got married on July 25th of 1997, and moved to El Salvador five days later. We’ve been traveling ever since!


We don’t actually have travel plans for our upcoming spring break–which has me a bit bummed, but it’s ok. I know how lucky we are… We were just in Laos, before that Cambodia and Thailand, and before that the Philippines. That’s a lot of travel in past six months, and I leave on a school trip to Thailand this upcoming week. I am so lucky with travel! I don’t want to take it for granted, but it might be possible that I do. I love to travel though, and I love this life of travel that Kevin and I dreamed into being. It is safe to say that travel and traveling with Kevin is an integral part of our relationship.


Can you guess what prompted this reflection of travel? My new Laos skirt purchased from our recent travels! When I bought it, it was more of an apron. Then the shop tailor cuts off all the white bits of the top and the white strings that tie the apron together. He cuts down to the black and closes the seam adding elastic to the waist. I had to add the belt to give myself a waist–poof on poof at the tummy section is never a good look! Wait till I post pictures from Luang Prabang and you meet Baby V…. this is definitely my Baby V skirt!


Do you enjoy traveling? Or are you more of a homebody?
Come summer, when we hit our cabin, I definitely turn into a home body!

Attention Travelers: Check the Dresscode!

This is an attention notice for all travelers: you must check the dress code of the destination for where you are traveling! I don’t often get opinionated on Kremb de la Kremb. It’s not my nature to stir up arguments, but from what I just witnessed on my recent travels, I can’t help but write about this topic. It is essential to research the cultural norms in anticipation of a trip.

Recently we traveled to Luang Prabang, Laos. Not only is this quaint little French/Laos town charming, but it is highly religious. Buddhist monks are everywhere and there is a temple (or more) on each block. In order to enter a temple, a woman should have her shoulders and knees covered. That means a BIG no to spaghetti straps, and an even BIGGER negative to butt cheeks escaping out of jean shorts. Yes, during the day it is hot, but there are clothing styles that keep one cool and modest even in the heat.

Enter culottes and the breezy blouse. This was my uniform for the trip. On the days when we’d be visiting temples, I made sure to be covered. I was completely comfortable and felt stylish while respecting the Laos Buddhist culture. I was incensed by some of the skin I saw from my fellow female travelers. I wanted to reprimand them for not respecting the ways of the Laos people. These strong thoughts brought me back to my Saudi days….

While living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I was guilty of not fully following the dress code. I did not cover my hair nor face. I did wear the black abaya, but sometimes I rebelled and wore it open. By the end of my second year there, my abaya turned into a black tunic that did expose that I had a crotch. This was a direct violation to Saudi’s cultural dress code–especially wearing pants. It’s funny to think how opinionated I was on this recent trip, yet years ago, I used wearing pants as a form of rebellion. It’s all rather hypocritical of me now isn’t it?

The thing is my dress code changes constantly. When I go home to Idaho, USA, I do not dress anywhere near to the way I dress in Hong Kong. Even in Seattle, Washington I change my attire. I can remember the shift in my wardrobe from Venezuela to India: cleavage is the norm in Venezuela. Those shirts I wore in Latina land were scandalous in Mumbai. Thank goodness I noticed my sartorial faux pas early on and adjusted rapidly. Even while living in Beijing, where it was very cold and grey, I could identify a shift in the color of my wardrobe. Yes, it was grey!

The point of this post is to simply voice my opinion: when traveling we must adapt to our surroundings. If we do not know the expectations of dress for the upcoming destination it’s our job as the traveler to research this information. It was not hard for me to easily find that Laos–and in particular Luang Prabang–is a conservative town. Within moments I learned that it would be disrespectful to show a lot of skin. Now…. if I ever get to travel to Rio de Janiero again (we brought in the year 2000 there!), I’ll find that showing skin is the norm–as I did when I was in Rio!

There will be more posts from Luang Prabang, but as an aside, I’d like to mention the hotel where we stayed. We had a lovely and perfectly large room at the Sunset Villa by Burasari. Finding a spot that fits the four of us is starting to become a challenge, but one for Kevin to conquer. The Sunset Villa is a four bedroom villa just a ten minute bike ride outside of the main old town. They offered bikes, so we rode everywhere. We’d leave to explore the old town after a decadent breakfast and then come home for a chilly dip in the pool in the hot afternoons. (Currently it’s hot during the day but cools off drastically at night.) By late afternoon, we’d set back out on those bikes for dinner and more site seeing around the ever so charming Luang Prabang.

Angkor Wat: Day 2

One day at Angkor Wat doesn’t suffice. In fact, Vincent and Kevin went back a third day on mountain bikes just to cruise around. Unfortunately on our second visit to Angkor Wat Gigi wasn’t feeling well–at all. She was such a trooper, continuing on, but by the fourth temple, she lost it. Literally. We had managed to see three though which was plenty for me. I immediately returned back to the hotel with my sick little Gig while the fellas stayed on. Momentarily, I got sick approximately 8 hours later. It was a nasty but quick flu–thank goodness. But boy, Gigi was such a trooper. In any of these pics you will notice how pale and non Gigi-like she was.

See that hole in the middle–that’s where the bamboo pole would go. In this way two people were able to take either side of the bamboo pole and transport the bricks that were used to build these temples. Amazing, huh?

This is a regular market scene. It actually could be anywhere in Southeast Asia!

We had two really great tuk tuk drivers both days. They were so sweet with us. There was this older guy, and then a younger one that I really wish I had captured. I guess I must go back….

See how totally ill Gigi looks. She couldn’t even smile her real self into the occasion. I felt so bad after she got so sick!

Again, it just isn’t the real Gig.

Gigi isn’t the only photographer in the family. When Gigi allows Vincent to borrow hers, he takes some pretty good shots too. Hmmm, his birthday is in May…

Once I sweated my way through this cute blouse with just a touch of yellow–yes, you will see me trying to attempt this spring! I bought myself an “I <3 Cambodia" tee which after this trip is completely true! Again, we will be back....

This is Kevin’s blogger pose. Pretty good eh?

Angkor Wat


Goodness, we’re seriously into February, and before my family travels again for Chinese New Year, I better share pictures from the beginning of January. After spending an amazing Christmas and New Year with my sister’s family, the four of us with my sister’s mother-in-law went on to travel to Siam Reap, Cambodia. We were able to visit Angkor Wat twice. All I can say is, “Holy TEMPLES!” Angkor Wat is actually the largest religious complex in the world! These pictures are just from one day’s visit, and we saw so much. This is a picture heavy post, so I’ll quit writing and let the images speak….

Angkor Wat

I’m happiest in the library! (Proof from our first stop of the day.)

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat



All of a sudden a large group of young monks was amongst us. They were tourists at Angkor Wat just like us. I found this monk to be so breathtakingly beautiful. He was definitely shy, but he allowed me to take his portrait. This monk below served as my translator. He seriously cracked me up! First of all he was so kind, translating for me allowing for the photo shoot that ensued. After all was said and done though, he got out his iPad, went straight to Facebook, and made sure we became “friends” right away. So, amongst my Facebook friends, there is a very kind Buddhist monk among you!!


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Within the ancient temple walls, there are young monks sitting about. For a donation, they will offer up a prayer for you. I still have the two threads from my two blessings around my right wrist. I am not allowed to take them off; rather, they should fall off naturally. After a year, I may take them off once I’ve received another Buddhist’s blessing–signified by a new string.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

I saved the best for last: my little photographer–I love seeing her in action. She didn’t even know I captured her in her element.

Have you been been to a Buddhist temple?
Stay tuned for day two’s tour of Angkor Wat next Monday….

Elegant Elephants

Our Christmas day this past 2017 was completely magical: we spent the entire day with some very elegant elephants! Elephants have long been a favorite animal in the Krembs’ family, so spending Christmas day with them was an extremely cool gift. The other amazing part of Christmas 2017 was being with my sister’s family. In the photo above you will the four Krembs, my sister and her family with husband and three kids, her mother-in-law, and her husband’s brother plus cousin and his wife. We were a party of 13! The night before we had all exchanged gifts via a Secret Santa. To say it was fun to be with everyone is an understatement. Because we live overseas, we often spend Christmas with just the four of us; this Christmas was especially unique and one that we will all remember forever–especially Christmas day with these elegant elephants!

This blog started as a family blog back in 2006! It’s evolved since then, yet I wanted to share a memory from way back. Here’s a picture of the kiddos as toddlers. Vincent naturally took care of his younger sister. I don’t have any pictures from our elephant experience from that first trip to Goa, India, so I’ll share the story here: we took our first Indian beach trip during our first break of our first year. We had just come from the beach party country of Venezuela. We often went to Margarita Island where the rum was flowing and the tanga (thong bikinis) were jiggling to the salsa music on the beach. As we sat on the very quiet beach of Goa, India, we felt an intense longing for the chaos of Venezuelan beaches. It was then in our self-pity, that I looked way off into the distance, and I saw a real dark, large blob. The blob kept coming closer and closer, and we had now idea what it was. Form finally began to take shape, and we realized an elephant was coming toward us! As we sat there on the beach with two toddlers aside us we watched this elegant elephant pass by. It was remarkable to say the least. Vinnie and I got up, held hands, and followed this gigantic beast. We were in awe. We never considered the Indian beaches boring after that, and Vincent and I rode many elephants together during our stay in the beautiful country of India. When we had to choose a partner for Thailand, I instantly asked Vincent if he’d ride with me.

I love the calm of my sister in these two pictures; look at the reverence she expresses in her hand gestures. I think it’s ok if I share that Julie was a bit scared, but she made it through, and in the end I think she found the elephants to be magical.

If by chance you visit Chiang Mai, Thailand, may I recommend Woody’s Elephants to you. They really care for their elephants. Each elephant has his own mahout, and as a witness those fellas really love their elephant. Also, lunch was amazing!

This is Tim and Marina. It was so fun to travel with these two. They gobbled up the culture with such a zest for life–same with Carol below. We feel quite special to have family extend beyond blood! (Stay tuned for more pictures with Carol; she traveled to Cambodia with us at the end of Christmas vacation.)

The first thing they did at Woody’s Elephants was write all of our names on our hand in Thai. This says “Annie” and “Elle.” We were kind of shocked how similar our two names looked….

Have you met an elephant before?
What did you think?

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!)

USS Midway 3

USS Midway 4
Of course I caught a candid of Gigi in front of a wall of her very favorite color: GREEN!

USS Midway 13
Wild Zuper Junior and Wild Zuper Senior (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)

USS Midway 19
“Danger” meaning stick your arm in all the way to find out why….!

USS Midway 18

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.