Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

KAR – A – OH – KAY

Posted by Christy in Posts on 02 16th, 2011

Karaoke (pronounced kar – a – oh – kay in Japan) – Seriously, is there anything better? OK, maybe a few things (like puppies), but really, it is a short list.

And just so you know, it is true what they say: the Japanese really love karaoke, but not the kind we know and love in America. Basically they rent out small, private rooms with their friends and sing for hours at a time. Our Couch Surfing hosts, Brenna and Micah (awesome American couple living in Tokyo), took us with a bunch of their friends for a true Japanese karaoke experience in Shinjuku in Tokyo. And, as evidenced in the videos and pictures below, it was nothing short of amazing.

I think my rendition of “Be Our Guest” was probably my favorite of the night. What are some of your favorite karaoke songs? Seriously, I would like to know…

A HOELL Lotta Fun!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 01 28th, 2011

We had yet another visitor join us for a leg of our world tour… This time it was our friend Lindsey Hoell, who lived across the street from me while growing up. We reconnected when we were both living in San Francisco. We became close friends, so naturally we were so excited for her to join us in Thailand!

The first thing to know about Lindsey is that she is extremely active and really doesn’t adjust well to downtime (she would agree). This was great for us, because honestly, traveling for 8 straight months has taken a toll on us, and we needed her to re-energize Aaron and me for two more months of world travel. I have to say, it worked like a charm.

We met her in Bangkok and traveled down to Koh Phangan, best known as the island with the “Full Moon Party.” We just missed the full moon, but we did manage to still party on the beach, complete with Lindsey “breathing fire,” and winning the “Pop the Balloon” contest. Needless to say she had a good night:

While Koh Phangan was beautiful, it was disappointing  because it rained two out of the three days we were there. We did manage to get some paddle boarding in, though:

Due to the weather we decided to get out of Koh Phangan early and head north to Hua Hin. We had already been to Hua Hin for Christmas, but everything south of that point was due for heavy rainfall for the rest of the week. Also, Lindsey is really into kiteboarding (link), and the biggest kiteboard school in Thailand is located there.

So we ended up spending the rest of the week in Hua Hin, hanging out on the beach and watching Lindsey take a few kiteboard lessons, and when she had enough experience to kite by herself, we would help her when we could (fetch her board when she lost it, etc.). We would have loved to take lessons ourselves, but at $140 a pop, it just wasn’t in the budget for us.

We did have an interesting night out in Hua Hin, which deserves a whole other post in itself…

Anyway, thanks for coming out, Lindsey! We miss you already!

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.

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. :-)