Photographer Stephanie Pommez and her family relocated from New York to Hong Kong last year. Since landing, they've explored all corners of Asia as well as making trips to Brazil, sailing with extended family in the BVIs and doing summer camp family-style in New England. Here she shares some shots of a few places they've been (yes, there are even more) and what stood out in each destination. We're so inspired by her beautiful photos but also by her mission to introduce her children to the different cultures, communities and cuisines around the globe. This is our kind of family travel; hats off to the Pommez-Djerejian family. Follow their journey on Instagram: @stephaniepommez
We moved from New York to Hong Kong during the (very) hot and humid days of summer. We decided to drop our bags in Hong Kong and head to Bali before the beginning of the school year. Traveling from HK in Asia is incredibly easy—the distances are short and the airports are generally incredibly efficient. This trip helped smooth the transition to Asia (and gave us time to relax before the business of HK). We were received with a warm gentleness and a majestic beauty of the surrounding nature. The kids spent most of their time running around the beautiful green vegetation, jumping in the pool, swimming in the ocean, before then falling asleep, hypnotized by the Balinese soothing melodies and dances at night.
Pandas! We definitely presented this trip as the panda visit to our children. And what a treat! They both got to sit and pet these cuddly guys. For the adults, too, Chengdu is a great city to visit. After the pandas we visited the amazing People’s Park. It's a true glimpse of everyday life in Chengdu and includes a corridor lined with resume-style presentations of bachelor men looking for matches (packed with mothers matchmaking) and different generations dancing to different beats (modern to traditional) in different parts of the park plus ear-cleaning services, outdoor tea shops and more. Chengdu also has the best Sichuan cuisine (very spicy)!
ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA
We had been very excited about Angkor Wat. The afternoon we arrived, my daughter and I decided to take a tuk tuk to Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset and came across a visiting group of young monks. To share this moment with my little globe-trotter was priceless, and I hope to have many more moments like this. The Buddhist community and the epic Hindu stories were the highlights for the kids. Also, the off the beaten track, more isolated temples in the rural areas were magical. There is something indescribable about walking through these magnificent religious monuments with no other sounds but that of the jungle breeze.
We have made our way to Beijing a couple of times now, and I can’t get enough of this nonstop booming city. We visited the Forbidden City both times, the second time I realized this place also offers a glimpse into the different regions and peoples of China (many visiting Beijing for the first time). It is like traveling through an entire country’s people and contemporary history while walking through the heart of China’s capital city.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Whenever we visit a new place we will head to the local market or park to get away from the more touristy spots and get a glimpse of everyday life. This photo was taken at a market in Phnom Penh after a morning of palaces and temples. Despite its tragic past (I highly recommend the Killing Fields--we did not take the kids--for an incredibly humbling, intimate retelling of one of the 20th Century’s notable historic tragedies) the city is really booming and offers a great variety of restaurants and very cutting-edge design (in stores and via street-scapes, like this cool pineapple presentation).
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, CARIBBEAN
This is my little niece, the mermaid, on a boat trip we took with my sister’s family. My son had just finished “fixing her hair” (they are the both 5 years old). We chartered a catamaran at BVI Yacht Charters in Tortola for both families and went island hopping at our own pace, spending our days snorkeling. (There is so much coral life!) Check out the Indians for snorkeling and the Baths, Savannah Bay and Smuggler’s Cove for beautiful beaches.
Traveling through Asia has been an incredible experience for our family, but I would probably put Myanmar at the top of our list as the most unforgettable place. Though changing quickly, exploring Myanmar still has a time-warped feel to it. We spent some time in Yangon, Inle Lake and Ngapali but really fell in love with the beauty of Bagan, home to over 2,000 temples and pagodas scattered across vast, dusty plains. You feel like you're traveling in time.
Everyone at home knows that this is my favorite spot in Brazil: Serra Grande, Bahia (near Itacaré). The kilometers of untouched beaches, lined by the “Mata Atlantica” (protected tropical forest along the coast) combined with the warmth of its people truly make this the quintessential piece of paradise in Brazil. I grew up in Brazil and this particular spot, which is reached through a reddish clay dirt-road, is very special because it brings back childhood memories—the shape of the clouds, the colors, the scents, the hills in the horizon, the noises, the peace. I make multiple stops when I go there with the family. I hope one day this special tucked away portion of Brazil will also represent deep-seated childhood memories for our kids.
SQUAM LAKE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
We spent part of our summer at the beautiful old Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire, where families have been summering for generations (I can understand why!). It is New England at its best. A pristine, crystal-clear lake, rich pine tree forests, camp-grounds covered with a wide variety of mushrooms, abundant fresh air accompanied by, most importantly, incredibly warm people. This is our son practicing his dives at the end of the day.
Singapore was such a surprise for us. It's often summed up as clean and organized, well located and friendly. Those are rather nice things, but it is also so much more then that. It is a futuristic eco-friendly and very ‘slick’ island city-state. This is the Gardens by the bay, a space-age futuristic botanical gardens with 50-meter-high super trees covered with plants—think vertical gardens connected by bridges that you can cross via ‘tree-top’ pedestrian roads!
Phuket was a special trip with my daughter's best friend from her school in New York. They visited us in Hong Kong, and then we tacked on a few girls-only days in Thailand. The island was beautiful, but probably the most magical day was on a boat in the Phang Nga Bay, exploring the towering islands that rise vertically from the sea. This photo is of a "floating village" built on stilts, about an hour away from the mainland. We ate lunch here, and it was a great experience for the girls to meet all the local kids and see how different children's lives are around the world.
Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives
Truly the most extraordinary underwater world I have ever experienced. It is one of the very top meccas of scuba diving. We originally planned our trip feeling a little guilty that we should be exploring more cultural destinations in Asia, but it turned out that it was an incredible underwater learning experience for all of us. We spent most of our time scuba diving, swimming among manta rays in the open ocean (including both our children), learning about corals, whale sharks and the formation of atolls. It was truly a unique experience incomparable to anything else I’d previously experienced.
These are the mythical Naga serpents guarding the steps towards the holy temple of Wat Phra That (also referred as Doi Suthep because of the mount it was built on). There are 300 steps leading up to the temple, and serpents are just as long—good news for us, as it was a bit difficult to convince our kids to climb them at first. But we wanted to find out how long these serpents could be. Both have been studying Hinduism and Buddhism at school, which was great because references and story telling became a great part of temple visiting.