Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Happy Chinese New Year!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 02 4th, 2011

Welcome to the year of the rabbit!

Christy bunny

We are so lucky our schedule had us in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year.  The city buzzes and is full of activities to celebrate this holiday. As soon as we got through immigration in the airport we were handed fliers with all of the activities in the city.

The first activity on out list was the flower market. The streets were packed with people buying flowers for good fortune and mandarin orange bushes for good luck.

Aaron at the flower market

The next activity on our list was the New Year’s Parade. We saw last year’s San Francisco Chinese New Year parade so we were excited to see an even bigger display of lion dancers, dragons, traditional costumes, and firecrackers. We got to see all of those things but not in an overwhelming way like we expected. The parade felt more like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City then the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. There were floats sponsored by various corporations. There were almost as many international dance acts as local groups, including a thong clad Samba group from London, the Louisiana State University dance team, and scissor musicians from Peru. There were some lion dancers and some dragons, but only a couple of each.

Samba dancers from London


Aaron with a dragon

The parade was fun, but we were disappointed by the lack of traditional acts. I think the difference between reality and our expectations is Hong Kong’s goal is to put on a world class parade, while the San Francisco parade is a way for immigrants and descendants to stay connected and show pride in their heritage. Hong Kong’s parade is great, just not what we expected.

The last special New Year’s event we went to was the fireworks display. We have been told we have not seen fireworks until we have seen Chinese fireworks. This show did not disappoint! The setting is the beautiful Victoria harbor with the lights of the skyline reflecting in the water. The entire show is at least 6 fireworks wide filling our field of view. Sometime fireworks explode into the shape of rabbit faces. Other times “I ♥ HK” is written in the sky. We both agreed they were the best fireworks we have ever seen.

Christy with what expand into bunny fireworks

Aaron at the Chinese New Year fireworks

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy 2554!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 01 1st, 2011

Happy New Year, family and friends! Aaron and I rang it in Thai style in Chiang Mai. Fun times were had by all, at least we think so.

To commemorate the event, Chiang Mai had a food festival, complete with live musical acts and fireworks at the stroke of midnight. To celebrate New Year’s Eve outside was an adventure in itself, as it is usually below freezing at that time in Ohio, and you know how we all like to keep out of the cold as much as possible.

We also lit a Sky Lantern on the 30th, for good luck in the new year! Sky Lanterns are airborne paper lanterns. They are constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, thus lowering its density causing the lantern to rise into the air. The sky lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground (Source: The effect that they have is amazing, as thousands of people light them and they end up dancing in the sky above the city, almost replacing the invisible stars above (oooohhh, so poetic!).

Also, it is not a typo in the title of this post. Different cultures use different calendars, and the Thai happen to believe that the year is 2554. Go figure.

We hope the new year brings much luck to you. Don’t worry, even though you didn’t light a sky lantern, I’m sure you will have it anyway!

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

Happy Halloween!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 10 31st, 2010

No pumkins in Malawi? No problem. Christy carved a pineapple-o-lantern! It was actually easier to carve than a pumpkin. Happy Halloween.

Christy with her Pineapple-O-Lantern