Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

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.

Merry Christmas from Thailand!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 12 25th, 2010

Christy and Aaron riding an elephant

Has it Really Been Four Hours?

Posted by Christy in Posts on 11 22nd, 2010

Before I came on this trip, I was not a patient person. I could not even stand to wait for Aaron to use the bathroom outside of the movie theater. It drove me crazy!

Now, I have grown pretty accustomed to waiting. I wait for planes, trains, taxis, ferries, overland trucks, etc. I wait in lines at the Coliseum, the Pyramids, the Parthenon…  I wait for the other travelers of African Trails…Yes, being patient has become a huge part of my life.

When we came to Etosha National Park in Namibia, we knew it was our last chance to see animals. You see, going on safari doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will see wildlife. The animals don’t really care if you have traveled thousands of miles to see them. Up to Etosha, we had only seen one lion, at a distance, mind you, and we had not seen any rhinos, leopards, hyenas, and many more. Having not gone to the Serengeti because it was too expensive, we were pretty sensitive to the fact that we had not had a proper look at a lion.

Let me explain how Etosha works: It is an extremely dry desert climate. There are water holes all over the park which the animals depend on for hydration. The key is to stay at a water hole viewing area and wait for the animals to arrive.

When we came to our campsite in Etosha, I grabbed a bottle of wine and headed for the camp site’s water hole viewing area. I sat patiently, for four hours in fact, and waited for the animals. Sometimes there was nothing at all, but since I was patient, I saw a leopard, a face-off between an elephant and a rhino, a hyena, a couple of baby rhinos, and number of antelope and zebras.

The water hole is my favorite part of the world trip so far. As the sun set over the park, I took a few pictures of the elephant and rhino, but these still don’t give the site justice:

I was still a bit disappointed that we didn’t see any lions. I was hopeful, however, that we would see them the next morning before we left the park. Low and behold, as we were driving across the reserve, what should cross the road right in front of the truck? LIONS!

The previous day we have seen a number of giraffes as well, including my favorite one, who was too preoccupied with getting hydrated to pay much attention to us. He has too work really hard for that water, doesn’t he?

We saw all the animals we wanted to see throughout our trip in Africa. Thanks, guys, for your cooperation!

Viva la Vida en Espana!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 07 1st, 2010

Okay, so we are leaving for Morocco tomorrow to spend a week there, and will be back in Spain for another week before meeting my parents in Paris. I wanted to get a post in before we head to Morocco since we will not likely have Internet access.

We flew in to Madrid from Rome, and since we arrived so late we decided to spend the night at the airport (and avoid paying for a hostel for the night). While I don’t mind this at all, I can tell you that I don’t get a good night’s sleep doing this, and I ended up sleeping most of our first day in Madrid. My brief impression of the city is that it is quite clean and the citizens are extremely laid back, and there are not as many American tourists as there were in Italy.

Here are a few pictures in Puerta del Sol, a major plaza in the city:

Aaron at Puerta del Sol in Madrid

Christy in Puerta del Sol in Madrid

My favorite part of Madrid (and this is sad, I know) was watching the hookers outside our hostel window. Our hostel was on Gran Via, the area of Madrid where most hookers hang out. There were cops everywhere, and we were stunned to see them not doing anything about blatant prostitution right in front of them (one hooker even waved to one of the policemen!), but it turns out that while prostitution in Spain is illegal, the way law is written is that the prostitute would not get in trouble, nor their patrons, but the PIMPS would be arrested. Huh.

Please enjoy this video of the hookers in Madrid:

Moving on, our next stop in Spain was a Seville, a gorgeous city in Andalucia in the south of Spain. Its claims to fame are the beautiful bull ring (Aaron wanted to see a bull fight while I did not. I won.), and the cathedral. It is the third largest cathedral in the world (After which two? If you are the first to get it right, I will bring back a small token from the country of your choice, and Christopher Columbus is buried there. Please enjoy the video and a few pictures:

Aaron in Seville

Christy in front of the Seville Cathedral

Our last stop in Spain (for now), is beautiful Marbella on the coast of the Mediterranean. We have spent much of our time on the beach. Aaron was obsessed with this elephant statue that also doubled as a shower. Of course, a video:

Now, we are off to Morocco! I am a little nervous, as this will be our first culture shock experience. I hope it goes well…