Hong Kong was made for [Food] Lovers

I have officially been in this city for five days and it’s safe to say I am completely enamored with the place. It’s like all of my favorite cities combined and the FOOD, oh my god the Food here is phenomenal. There are restaurants everywhere, literally everywhere. In old Police Headquarters that have been renovated to dark alleyways that make you question if you’re even in the right place. This post is about one of those places hidden in a dark alleyway.

Down in Central Hong Kong there is a hidden gem called The Brick House. To get there is an adventure, you wont forget.

My cousin, Jason, has always had good taste in food; even so when he told me he wanted to take me to his favorite Mexican joint in Hong Kong I was entirely skeptical of the whole idea. I lived on the boarder of Mexico for two years and had sense become a serious snob about my Tacos. Northern United States is known for it’s terrible Mexican food and I was 8005 miles from Boston, I flew over the North Pole to get here. I agreed anyway, feeling apprehensive about trying Mexican Food in a city known for it’s Dim Sum.

To get to the restaurant you first have to find the entrance, and it’s hardly obvious. When we first got to the end of the alleyway I thought we were just taking a short cut like we often did to get around the city and avoid the heavy foot traffic. At the beginning of the alley there was a much more elderly man singing in what I could only assume was Cantonese. His voice rose and dropped beautifully while his notes hung in the heavy humidity that rules Hong Kong during the summer months. As soon as I looked beyond him and further into the alley I started getting nervous. Although Hong Kong is a relatively safe city I had been living in dangerous areas the last four years that if you walked down a place like this you were asking for trouble, but I trusted Jason and knew the end goal would be worth it, and it was.

The walls leading into the restaurant are smothered in Street Art, graffiti and love notes.

Once you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere where the tables for large parties are half inside, half outside with double seating along the alleyway. The walls inside the restaurant are also covered in street art. I was in heaven. Soon I was enveloped by the life of the restaurant, the music was beachy and the Margaritas were strong. I couldn’t wait to order food and try some of their delicious looking options.

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Naturally we started with Chips and Guacamole, because no visit to any Latino restaurant is complete without copious amounts of Guacamole…. I could also live off of Guac, it’s not only my favorite but the Brick House NAILED it. Also, the Salsa? Perfect!!!!

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Best. Ceviche. Ever.

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My new best friends❤

Now anyone who knows me knows how freaked out I am by fish or eating fish or thinking about eating fish. The first time I tried Ceviche it took my friend Caroline and her Fiancee, Forrest, to convince me that trying Ceviche was 1) not going to kill me and 2) was actually delicious. The thought of eating raw fish horrified me and I didn’t totally grasp the science that the acid of the citrus actually cooked the fish and therefor it was entirely safe to eat. After that first bite I’ve become a bit obsessed with the stuff, trying it every chance I get in places where I feel comfortable enough to eat the fish and Hong Kong is known for it’s excellent fish. Everyone eats seafood here. On first bite I was hooked on Brick House’s twist on Peruvian Ceviche and by far it is the best I’ve ever had (sorry San Diego, you’ve dropped off my Good Mexican Food Map.) Let me just make it very clear: If you are going to visit Hong Kong you have to go here. You have to try their Ceviche and have one of their Classic Margaritas.

And don’t you dare forget to try the tacos, with homemade soft shell and incredibly fresh meat you wont ever want to leave the restaurant. I demolished two before even taking the chance to really savor the taste, on the third taco I took notes and it’s safe to say their Chicken Tacos are the best Hong Kong has to offer.

So thank you Brick House for the incredible experience, I will be back before I leave for sure❤

Disfruta!

NerdyGypsy

Dive Tables may be the bane of my existence.

So for this trip I have been working very hard on getting dive certified. When I first thought about learning to Scuba Dive I thought it would be relatively easy to do and that it wasn’t that complicated. I was so wrong in so many ways.

Learning to dive is like taking a college class. The online course is divided up into 5 sections, each with 150+ pages of learning material. This does not include the controlled indoor and outdoor dives you have to do to practice all of the skills you read and learn about in the online portions. Dive tables are probably one of the most important things to learn because it can help prevent Decompression Sickness, also known as the Bends, as well as make sure you have an awesome diving experience with an adequate amount of time underwater.

When you dive your tank is 21% oxygen and the rest is Nitrogen, as you dive the air in the tank decreases in volume and increases in density causing more nitrogen to enter your body (i think I’m getting this right?) which means Nitrogen builds up in your body as you dive creating bubbles, which is why it’s so important to take safety stops every 5 meters/15 feet. So what is Decompression Sickness? Decompression sickness is a serious medical condition caused by nitrogen bubbles within your blood and body tissues. If the excess nitrogen in your body tissues is too high, when you ascend and surface, the nitrogen may come out of solution faster than your body can eliminate it, forming bubbles. These bubbles are usually in joints, fatty tissues and environmental factors can be huge game changers on how/when/where they form. How do we make sure this doesn’t happen? By taking safety stops to allow the nitrogen to work its way out safely but also by using dive tables to ensure you’re not diving out of a safe depth and time.

Least to say I’ve never been good at math and figuring the table out involves math. If it’s your first dive it’s easy, if you are doing a second dive in a close period to the first dive you have to account for the nitrogen that hasn’t worked its way out of the body yet. The residual Nitrogen is also why you’re not allowed to fly the same day you dive. So I’ve taken this test three times now and just feel like the biggest idiot on the planet for not getting something that seems relatively simple. So for tonight, I gave the test a break and headed over to a friend’s house where there were double chocolate s’mores, a bonfire, great people and a telescope to look at the stars.

Signing off!

-NG.

 

Food and Beer places I MUST go!!!

So one more week and I am off on a grand adventure! I’m so excited!! I was trying to think of places that would be fun to visit while I’m there and then started thinking about beer. And food. And all the fun beer and food I want to try! So here’s my Top 5 Foodie Bucket List of Hong Kong!!!!

  1. Hong Kong Beer Co was recently relaunched by a company that has been in the craft beer business for about 100 years, with experience in the Asia and American craft beer markets, however this brewery is the first of its kind and is the Pioneer of Craft Brewing in Asia but with 6 year-round beers and 2 specialty beers I should be in for a treat.
  2. Little Lab A funky cocktail bar with some crazy mixtures. One of their drinks is called ‘HK Tea Time’ and the recipe is as follows: 12-year Dewar’s, house-made milk tea syrup and evaporated milk, topped with off craft beer and chocolate bitters.
  3. Lion Rock Brewery I liked the name of this one so naturally I had to put it on the list. I have never had a White IPA before and they boast one named Icy Lotus that I am dying to try. White IPA is a stylish newcomer that unites the best of Witbier and American IPA: light malts, strong hops, and aroma aplenty. A fragrant blend of blueberry, orange peel, passion fruit, and lychee.
  4. The Markets! Oh there are so many Markets in Hong Kong, from Ladies Market to Temple Street Night Markets you can find all sorts of goodies, and I plan on doing some shopping as well as hitting up as many street food vendors I can handle. Family members and close friends should expect some strange souvenirs in their mailboxes😉
  5. Oddies Foodies is a Gelato shop with crazy flavors like curry gelato, swirled with mango jam, roasted peanuts, and coconut macaroon. In March they had one that I could probably die happy trying called PopCone which had salted caramel gelato, caramel popcorn, roasted almonds, burnt vanilla semifreddo, apple compote and dulce de leche. Yummmmmm.

 

One more week and I will be in HK!!!!!!

Nerdy Gypsy

Travel Anxiety?

My favorite feeling in the world is right before the airplane takes off. The entire plane tightens up as it prepares to jet forward towards the speed of 567 MPH (or .85 Mach.) I always imagined the plane to be cat-like, sitting back on its haunches before taking off to anywhere you want to go. The first time I boarded an airplane I was 7 years old and off to Disneyland with my family, I was in first grade and was even allowed to skip a little school for the trip. Since then I have flown countless times and I’d like to think I don’t get too bad anxiety when I travel. A pretty standard level of ‘Oh god what do I want to wear while I’m there?’ and ‘Holy god, does this make me look ridiculous?’ was to be expected, I think I just fear that it’s not real, it is my first major international trip and what I’ve been dreaming of my entire life.

Recently the biggest challenge has been trying to figure out the most effective way of packing. Am I really going to be doing that much shopping there? Does it make sense to pack a wardrobe? I’ve vetoed taking any toiletries except for my make up and tooth-brush, as far as I can tell it makes much much more sense to pick those things up there. How many pairs of shoes do you think I’ll need?

You’re probably wondering where I am off to this time, and I cannot wait to tell you, but first you’re gonna have to guess. Some fun facts about where I am going:

  1. It boasts one of the world’s highest per-capita concentrations of cafes and restaurants at one restaurant for every 600 people.
  2. It consumes triple the world average of tea at a total of 9.8 million kilograms annual. This equates to an average of 1.4 kilograms of tea per person in ____ ____ per year. The world’s most expensive tea available in ____ ____ is Iron Buddha at USD2576.92 per kilogram.
  3. It was one of the stops in French writer Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” published in 1873.
  4. It is actually composed of more than 200 islands.
  5. It ended New York’s 11-year reign as the home of the world’s most expensive district for retailers as luxury-brand companies like Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Chanel, Aigner, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs competed for space to set up flagship stores selling their goods to mainland Chinese tourists. In 2012, the average annual rents at Causeway Bay was USD338.87 per square foot.

Have you figured it out yet? This isn’t my only stop in South East Asia, while visiting I will also be making a stop into Thailand to go diving off of Kata Beach. I am hoping to swim with sharks while I am down there, as I love the teethy dudes to pieces. Sharks may be one of the coolest animals in current times. I will be bringing an underwater camera for these adventures, I cannot wait to post the pictures ^_^

Anyway, I suppose I better do the adult thing and look nice for work.

回头见!

Huítóu jiàn!

Sarah



A Grand Adventure

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Ahhh this past year has been tough. I left my relationship, moved back to Vermont and most recently moved to Boston, Mass. Sometimes I worry that my life is a little too Eat, Pray, Love but then I remember that … Continue reading

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So least to say my studies are going well, but complicated. I really need to make friends with someone who speaks this language fluently because my American tongue is having a hard time picking up the tonal points on it’s own. I was told that the ear to mouth relationship with this language is totally different from American. I am trying really hard to get the pronunciations correct because this is one of those languages where a downward toned word is completely different from the same word with an upward tone. Shaping my mouth around those words is trickier than I thought it would be, which is new for me, I tend to pick up languages very quickly.

Ever since I was a kid language has fascinated me, the history of how we’ve gotten so many dialects is just incredible. Although we don’t know exactly where the origin of language started we do know that today there are about 5,000 different languages spoken through out the world today, a third of these being in Africa alone. Between those 5,000 languages they have been grouped into 20 different families which historians believe each family has a common ancestor of language. The most common language is Indo-European languages which have been around since about 2000 BC. The language I am studying is believed to originate from a group of Nomads from Southern Arabia. Historically speaking the place I am visiting was the hub for incense trade, which made it a very important part of language history.

So, if you know what language I am talking about and want to help me study comment below or email me at: sctottn@gmail.com!!!

Changes

So for the next year I am home in Vermont. I plan on doing some traveling while I am here but not as much as I used to. I will be making regular posts again now that I am back on solid ground but they will be pretty local to the New England area. I just wanted to ask you guys what kinds of posts you were interested in? What would you like to learn about when it comes to travel and adventure? Are there any stories you’d like to know? Recipes that I’ve learned across the country or made up on my own? Questions about Mental Health on the road? Let me know in the comments below!

Night Swimming

My heart beat nervously as the edge of the dark pacific ocean teased my toes. The moon was perfect against the humid August night sky, hazy, wrapped up in it’s blanket of stars that were hidden beneath the San Diego light pollution. I took a big sigh, missing my own stars back at home that were left unadulterated by man’s touch and looked at my best friend. Her eyes met mine in awe of the beauty of the ocean after dark, very much aware that by no means did that mean the ocean was asleep, and a mischievous smile suddenly sprang to her lips.

“We should skinny dip!.” She spoke into the surf.

My eyes darted back to a prestigious hotel my then-boyfriend-now-fiance, worked at. The building was incredible, especially tonight when they had a large private event, multicolored lights ran up the white columns carefully placed to guide the eye around the room. From where we stood there was no way that they would see us, we were too far down the beach, still I could just imagine the look of B’s face if he were called for security detail on two skinny dipping women and finding me. I giggled at the image, my blue eyes twinkling with trouble as I looked at her and started pulling off my shirt.

“Let’s do it!”  We quickly stripped off our clothes and ran into the on coming waves, shrieking with laughter as the cold water closed over our belly buttons. Pushing our shoulders underwater and diving into the on coming wave, our Vermont-Crayola-White skin disappeared into the darkness. My heart slowed, matching the sound of the waves against the sand, and I closed my eyes. My hands and feet tingled with anticipation and every cell hummed with the joy of being alive, here and now.

We shivered as we dragged ourselves back out of the ocean, thanking Neptune that we didn’t get eaten by something significantly bigger than us. Quickly grabbing our clothes and drying off as best as we could, slipping back into my nice warm jeans became a much bigger ordeal covered in sand and salt water and I thanked my mother’s voice for reminding me to bring a sweatshirt with me that night.