Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Dining on Delicious and Delightful Dim Sum for Din-Din

Posted by Christy in Posts on 02 10th, 2011

(How bout that alliteration, eh? I seriously thought about this for three days.)

If you are at all into good food, and plan on visiting Hong Kong, and have only a few dollars to your name (or even a lot), then you should know that the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant is located there. And, my god, it is delicious.

The restaurant is called Tim Ho Wan, located on Kowloon. It would be in a totally inconspicuous space if it weren’t for the hoards of people amassed outside. We had to wait over an hour to eat, but what do you expect? It is the CHEAPEST MICHELIN-STARRED restaurant in the WORLD! Of COURSE it is in high demand.

The chef worked at a five-star establishment at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong before venturing out on his own. Tim Ho Wan serves dim sum, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, dim sum is like tapas. For those who don’t know what tapas are, they are small dishes that are shared amongst a whole group at a sitting. Dim sum consists of dumplings, buns, etc.

Here is what we chose from the menu:

–          Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings

–          Steamed  Dumplings in Chiu Chow Style

–          Steamed Beef Ball with Bean Curd Skin

–          Steamed Dumpling Filled with Bamboopith and Vegetable

–          Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

–          Deep Fried Dumpling Filled with Meat

–          Steamed Poached Fresh Seasonal Vegetable

–          Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with BBQ Pork

–          Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake

What the hell is tonic medlar and petal cake? It is basically gelatin filled with flowers. Does that sound good? No. Is it? Yes.

We both agreed that our favorite was the pork bun. They serve 750 of them a day. Yowza.

All in all, we spent $134 Hong Kong dollars, equivalent to about $17 U.S. dollars. Just so you know how amazing this is, I will make a comparison. A Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco is Acquerello. The cheapest meal we could order would be a three-course option at $64 a person. We would spend at least $128, not including drinks or tip.

So there you have it. If you are in Hong Kong, it is a must. If you were even to make a trip to Hong Kong just to visit Tim Ho Wan, I wouldn’t argue with you. It is that delish.



The Bamboo Bridge on the River Pai

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 01 6th, 2011

Our next location in Thailand was a little river town called Pai. Pai is the first time we were out of a big city in Thailand and it felt good to experience the jungle nature of Northern Thailand.

One of the best things about Pai was the location where we stayed. We did not book a hostel in advance so we wandered the town until we found a place we loved. We found the perfect riverside bamboo huts after crossing a little bamboo bridge.

Bamboo bridge over the Pai river

Christy at our bamboo hut

It was so relaxing. We kept flashing back to our experience in Nuweiba, Egypt where a 5 day stay turned into 17. We extended our stay in Pai by 2 nights, but our schedule was a little tighter than in Egypt.

Like the rest of Thailand, Pai had a nice night market where we could get good street food for cheap. Fortunately, Pai is not close to the ocean so squid on a stick was not available to tempt/taunt me.

Christy eating a bowl of noodles

One of the most common things to do in Pai is to rent a scooter and explore the surroundings. Ordinarily any activity with an engine is outside of our budget, but scooter rental was only $5 a day. The prices in South East Asia always amaze us.

We rode the scooter all day. We visited waterfalls and canyons we would not have been able to see otherwise. It felt so good to be able to explore an area beyond our walking range without having to ride in taxis. I think the smiles never left our faces all day.

Aaron on the scooter outside of Pai

Christy cannot stop smiling while riding on the scooter

Christy at a waterfall

Aaron at a waterfall

Christy at the canyon

Aaron hiking at the canyon

I loved relaxing, being outside, and riding the scooter so much I wished I could have stayed longer. But, eventually we had to cross back over the bamboo bridge on the river Pai and continue on our journey.



Weirdest Christmas Ever

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 12 26th, 2010

Every year of our lives, Christy and I have spent Christmas and the holiday season with our families in Ohio. For obvious reasons (the world trip), we were going to spend Christmas away from our hometowns for the first time. We went to a hotel at Hua Hin to celebrate this Christmas at the beach. We tried to blend some of our favorite holiday traditions with the amazing local atmosphere. In the end we both found ourselves saying, “It wasn’t the best Christmas. It wasn’t the worst Christmas. But it was definitely the weirdest Christmas.”

Thanks to Christy’s Grandma and Aunts, we were treated to a hotel room for Christmas. We felt like we were living in luxury. We could only remember 7 other times we had a room to ourselves with our own bathroom. We also made sure to get a room with free wi-fi so we could call our families on Christmas day.

We spent our time in Hua Hin trying to find the Christmas spirit in the city and ourselves.

We went to the beach:

Christy and Aaron at Hua Hin beach

We admired the decorations and lights throughout the city. The city was decorated with lots of lights to celebrate the king’s birthday on December fifth and they are left up through the new year celebrations. We pretended they were Christmas decorations too.

Christy in Hua Hin

The malls had real Christmas decorations up for the tourists:

Christy and Thailand Christmas decorations

One of the best thing in Thailand are the night markets. It is fun to look around at all of the stuff with out getting pressured by the shop keepers. It has been months since we could look at souvenirs without getting hassled. It is such a relief once the hassle is gone.

Christy in the night market

We go to the night markets almost every night to eat good cheap street food.  We usually pay around $1 per item, including full plates of pad thai. There are also a lot of exotic foods available. Look how happy I am with my special Christmas Eve treat, squid on a stick . As you will see later, I would come to regret this decision.

Aaron and squid on a stick

Christy went for a different Christmas Eve treat, a festive ice cream sundae.

Christy and her ice cream sundae

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve night watching Christmas shows on Youtube and my favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story.

Christy watching A Christmas Story

Christmas day we went to a safari park to ride elephants as the second part of our gift from Christy’s aunts. As a bonus we got to hold a tiger cub.

Christy and a tiger cub

Christy and Aaron riding an elephant

As the day wore on I started feeling sicker and sicker. We ended up back in our hotel room for the rest of the day while I battled food poisoning from the squid on a stick.

Aaron sick with food poisoning

We did not go out to dinner at a nice restaurant like planned, because I could not leave the hotel room. Christy’s Christmas dinner ended up being a Pizza Hut pizza.

Christmas dinner pizza

Later that night we Skyped with our families. While Skype calls are nice, we wished we could be with them, instead of watching them open presents on the computer screen. This is the first time we have felt really homesick on the trip and wanted to be home. Christmas is always such a nice time of year in the United States it was sad to be somewhere else. Now that Christmas is over I am sure our desire to return home will fade as new adventures begin.

Beaches, lights, elephant rides, squid on a stick, and Skype, it was a weird Christmas.



Wait…It has been 17 Days?!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 26th, 2010

Welcome to Petra Camp, our new home away from home!

We were originally supposed to stay for only 5 days… which turned into 7 days… which turned into 10 days… which turned into “What the hell? Let’s just stay here until we have to go to Israel!”

By the time we checked out, we had been at the camp 17 days, and had made some great friends.

Another great thing about the camp is that it was very cost-friendly. We stayed in a hut (without AC) for about $8 a night, and then we had the same breakfast every morning for about $4 and dinner for about $12. We averaged out to about $30 a day (we purchased water and snacks throughout the day as well), which fit in very nicely with our budget!

Our days spent at Petra Camp were all very similar. Here was our agenda:

10 AM – Wake up, take a shower

11 AM – Eat breakfast

11:30 AM – 3 PM – Sleep or read in the hammocks by the ocean

3 PM – Snorkel or swim in the ocean

4:30 PM – Take a nap or relax after swim

7 PM – Eat dinner

8 PM – Play cards, watch movies, or play pool with our new friends

12 AM – Go to sleep

There was sometimes a hike up the mountain, a boat ride with our new friend Bart, or a bike ride around town mixed in there as well.

As some of you may know, I have some anxiety issues and idle time usually doesn’t suit me well. I have to be doing something at all times, or at least have access to the Internet, to keep my mind pre-occupied, or I go crazy with my general worries. But at Petra Camp, I could do nothing except just sit, and I was completely calm. I don’t know if it was just the place, or if I have changed during my trip, but I can tell you I have never been so relaxed in my life.

I would like to end my post with a video of one of our new friends, Achmed, teaching me a Bedouin dance. As you can see, it didn’t go well.



What I Miss…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 08 19th, 2010

We have been on the road for almost three months now, and I thought you all would be interested in knowing what I really miss in America. Obviously, I miss friends and family, but who wouldn’t? So, here is my list, what do you think?

1.) Movies

Ahh! I have already missed Toy Story 3 and Inception! Not to mention I will be missing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I in November. At least I can look forward to catching up on everything when I get back.

2.) English as a First Language

Wow, Aaron and I wish we could understand everyone, and that they could understand us. Everywhere we go we have to ask if they speak English. We really need to work on learning other languages, fellow Americans. Seriously.

3.) Familiar Food

OK, trying new food is so much fun! BUT, just once, I would love to see a Chili’s, or an Applebee’s, or SOMETHING, where I could go in and order any American food I wanted. Oh well, at least we have McDonald’s.

4.) Not Living Out of a Backpack

Wearing the same seven outfits gets old, FAST.

5.) HOMER

I miss him so much it hurts. Sometimes on the buses and trains I imagine our reunion, and how he is going to react. Do you think he will remember me? And if I feel this way about my dog, how will I feel about my kids?

At least I know my parents are taking good care of him, and I get to see him on Skype sometimes. Don’t worry, Homer, only nine more months to go!



Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Posted by Christy in Posts on 08 15th, 2010

We had heard from numerous people that Istanbul was a favorite amongst travel destinations, and after experiencing it for ourselves, it did not disappoint.

First I should say that Turkish people are known for their tremendous hospitality. We experienced this the minute we arrived in the city with the bus company that took us from Bucharest from Istanbul. You see, we arrived at our final destination at 3 AM, and Aaron and I had not expected to arrive until at least 6 AM, so we had not booked a hostel for the night. With no Internet access, no Turkish currency, and nowhere to go, the bus attendant automatically invited us to stay in the bus company’s office until morning, which we happily accepted, because we really did not know what else to do.

When we arrived in the office, we got to talking to the owner. After talking for about an hour or so, he offered to take us to the Blue Mosque (one of the most famous mosques in Istanbul), and we were a bit skeptical since it was 4 in the morning and we had never met this man before, but we felt bad saying no, so we went along with him. We are glad we did; it was an awesome experience seeing the Blue Mosque when there were no other tourists around.

After we came back from our trek, the owner had the front desk attendant keep the office open just so we could sleep there! Would any American do that? Doubtful.

When we left the next morning we met our CouchSurfing host Efe, and later on his girlfriend Merve and roommate Berk. This was one of our best CouchSurfing experiences so far, not only because our hosts were awesome, but because we stayed with them over a weekend so they could really spend some time with us. They took us all around the city, from the busy, hip district of Taksim to the Egyptian Bazaar. We drank Turkish tea, smoked a waterpipe, had some of the best baklava in the city AND shopped at the biggest mall in Europe (yeaahhhh).

Christy in the Egyptian Bazaar

What was even better was they introduced us to a lot of their friends, and we even got to join Merve at a celebratory dinner for her university.

Thank you, friends at Isik University, for welcoming us at your dinner. Hopefully this blog post will contribute to your continued enrollment success!

I should also mention that Turkish food is the BEST. It was my favorite food in Europe. I am sure Aaron will do whole other post on the food, so I won’t go too into it here.

So, Istanbul= A+. Go. Go NOW. Meet the lovely people, see the beautiful mosques, eat the tasty food, and come back and thank me later. :-)



Hungarian food

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 08 6th, 2010

Our time in Hungary was short but we did get to try a few Hungarian foods. Our couch surfing friends suggested a Hungarian restaurant. Once there we had the waiter suggest food since we could not read Hungarian (supposedly one of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers). We do not know exactly what the names of our dishes were, but they were good and really filling. They were perfect for the rainy weather.

Hungarian food

We also got to taste some homemade palinka, made by our couch surfing hosts’ parents. The liquor was really strong, but surprisingly smooth.

Hungarian Palinka



Friends and Wine in the South of France

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 23rd, 2010

We headed to the south of France to Perpignan for some sun, good wine, and to meet some friends. We stayed with Marie and Olivier, an amazing couple who we hosted in San Francisco through CouchSurfing.org. We were really excited to see them again, this time in their country.

Olivier is a manager of Arnaud de Villeneuve winery, so we were really excited to try his wines. Luckily, the first night we visited there was a wine tasting and dinner planned for his winery. The wine was really good and it was fun to be surrounded by Catalan food and music.

Catalan dinner

The next day we dipped into Spain. First, we went to Figueres. The town was a nice little town to walk around in. The highlight was the Salvador Dali museum. The entire museum is filled with Dali’s surrealistic works. It feels a bit like walking through a Tim Burton movie.

Christy and Susan in Figueres

Part of the Salvador Dali museum

After Figures, we headed to the coast to the tiny town of Cadaques. The town is an old sea town with white Spanish buildings and a harbor full of sailboats. We all agreed we could have spent a whole day in the town absorbing the atmosphere.

Aaron in Cadaques

Our last morning in the Perpignan we were lucky enough to get a personal tour of the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery from Olivier. He showed us the process of making wine, from grape to bottle. We even got to taste some wine directly from the tank.

Watching wine get bottled

Tasting wine from the tank

Thank you Marie and Olivier for the wonderful hospitality. I am so glad we were able to visit you and experience your city. We hope you visit us again when we return to the United States.

Dinner with Olivier and Marie



Catalan Dinner

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 21st, 2010

As part of our time in the south of France, we went to a Catalan dinner and wine tasting sponsored by the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery. Catalonia is a region along the south France and Spain border which includes Barcelona. They have their own language which is like a mixture of Spanish and French. They have their own foods and music as well.

The dinner had 3 courses. Unfortunately, I never saw the menu so I had to guess the name of each dish.

Pa amb tomaquet

Meatballs with white beans

A pastery, peach, and roquefort cheese

Of course the night also included a lot of Arnaud de Villeneuve wines. They were all really good, especially the award winning Muscat de Rivesaltes, the Cotes du Roussillon, and a red wine, but I forget which type.

Arnaud de Villeneuve wines



Surf Food Binge

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 5th, 2010

After not eating much in Morocco, Christy and I desperately needed something substantial to eat. With a stroke of luck, we got just what we needed at a tiny takeout restaurant owned by a local surf couple. There was no menu, just a chalk board that said, “Sandwich 6 Euros”. I watched in amazement as the couple assembled our sandwiches during the next 10 minutes. In order, from top to bottom, each sandwich contained:

  • Buttered toast
  • Fried egg
  • Chicken breast
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Coleslaw
  • Buttered toast
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Ham
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Coleslaw
  • Buttered toast

The resulting monster sandwich was not much to look at, but it was soooooooo good. It was exactly what we needed to recover from days of not eating enough.

Surf sandwich in Tarifa