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wojtekd London - A travel report by Wojciech
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London,  Kiribati - flag Kiribati
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wojtekd's travel reports

My Christmas on Christmas Island

  17 votes
Page: 1 2
It is one of the dream destinations for every traveller... Remote Kiritimati—also called Christmas Island—lies in the Central Pacific Ocean just 2 degrees north of the equator... Ii is a part of the Republic of Kiribati.


London travelogue picture
It is not easy to get there. There is only one plane: Air Pacific's 737 visiting Kiritimati every Wednesday on its way from Nadi (Fiji) to Honolulu and back. When I was landing there on 20th Dec 2006 only 8 passengers were disembarking the plane. The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world: 642 square kilometres (248 sq mi). Indeed, it comprises over 70% of the total land area of Republic of Kiribati, encompassing 33 Pacific atolls. Kiritimati is about 150 km in perimeter but only little more then 4 thousands people live there. On the entire atoll there are only four settlements: London (the capital of the island), Banana, Tabwakea and Poland. I was very excited to see there another Poland - so far from Poland in Europe...

Favourite spots:
London travelogue picture
All the atoll is like a forgotten tropical paradise. Can you imagine thousands of coconut palms, turquoise waters of the lagoon, deep blue ocean around and all these smiling people? Kiritimati was discovered and named on December 24, 1777 by Captain James Cook. The local name - Kiritimati is the Gilbertese spelling of Christmas (in Gilbertese, the ti combination is pronounced s; thus kee-rees-mass). Gilbertese is the only language spoken on the island, but nowadays more and more people speak also English.

What's really great:
London travelogue picture
The poople of Kiritimati. Hospitable, warm and cheerful. When I was planing my 7th voyage around the world and I recognized that I willbe forced to spend Christmas somewhere in the Pacific I decided to go to Christmas Island. This was my first Christmas far from home. I was afraid that I will spend it alone, isolated in the hotel room. Nothing like that! I was invited to join the Christmas celebrations - apart from the church ceremonies they have choir singing competition on the first day of Christmas and national dance competition on the second day!

Sights:
London travelogue picture
Cook Island - the little island in the only channel from the ocean to the lagoon is the only guidebook tourist attraction of the atoll. It has a size of 19 ha and a large seabird colony. Thousands of birds are nesting there. It has a status of the nature reserve but it is possible to sail there for a day visit. If you want to go there pay first 10 AUD (this is the currency of Kiribati) at the wildlife office in London. Then rent a motorboat (70 AUD after bargaining) and sail to the Cook Island where cpt Cook landed in 1777. It is worth! There are terns and frigate birds - thousands of them! They are so courious by your presence that they are coming almost to your hands...

Accommodations:
London travelogue picture
For the budget travellers both catholic and protestant parish have basic rooms in London. It will cost you like 20 AUD per night. For the rich guests there is Capitain Cook Hotel close to the airport - they charce there from 88 AUD per room. Travel Agencies from the USA book the new bungalows at Crystal Beach Fishing Resort - they charge there 70 USD per day per person full board. You can also stay for pennies with the local family in one of the traditional houses built on the poles - see the picture - just remember that is is extremely hot and that they do not have the shovers - just water in the lagoon!

Nightlife:
Midnight mass
Midnight mass
Are you really coming here - to the end of the world - to enjoy the nightlife? If you do there is a lonely bar in Captain Cook Hotel and the beach institution called The Lodge - during weekend they organize there like a disco with noisy american music... I am sorry about that...



For me the highlight of my one-week stay was the midnight mass cebated at Christmas Eve. The people of Kiritimati celebrate Christmas on the other way: every year the peple from all atoll ere coming for the 3-days celebrations to the other village. They stay there for 3 days enjoying the biggest event of the year, attending church ceremoniec in maneaba, singing and dancing. There were a lot of folklore during the celebration - the bible, bread and the wine were coming in the procession of the locals in traditional costumes made of flowers and palm leaves. What a choir singing! At midnight I heared magnificent "Gloria" performed by this modest, barefoot people on the remote Pacific island.. Unforgettable!

Hangouts:
Collecting copra
Collecting copra
POLAND is the most remote and isolated settlement on the atoll. This was my priority to see the place and to meet the people living there. The problem was that Poland lies far away from London, where I stayed...

It is on the other side of the lagoon - more then then 2,5 hours driving from London to Poland. My friendly host - the priest from catholic parish took me there. I saw the tiny houses under the palms, the school and the St Stanislaus church. There are also the copra sheeds. I meet friendly people from Poland in the Pacific - the just live from the copra. There is a lot of coconut palms around... I took there a lot of pictures - the people are not shy, but it is not easy to comunicate with them - only few people speak English.

Restaurants:
London travelogue picture
The only restaurant is in the Captain Cook Hotel - book your meals in advance! But if you stay in London there is a little cafe or eatery across from the protestant church - they serve inexpensive local and chineese food.

I spent a lot of time wondering around the villages (see the picture), talking to the people and enjoing the landscape. I have been invoited many times to have a coconut drink or to join these friendly people at the meal. Their diet is very simple: breadfruit boiled or baked, rice, taro and of course - the fish. One kilo of fresh fish cost just 60 australian cents... It is plentiful...

Local people are really great. You can see more portrait photos on my website: www.kontynenty.net/LudzieChristm.htm

Other recommendations:
London travelogue picture
This is tiny airport terminal on Kititimati - closed and locked from Thursdays till Tuesdays. At Christmas 2006 there were only 5 tourists on the atoll: 4 Japaneese (they came to fish) and me...



Most people need a visa to stay on the island. Yuo can get this visa in Kiribati consulate in Honolulu or at Kiribati High Commission in Suva - Fiji. I got mine in one day in Suva. The formalities on arrival are very simple - they want to know, where you spent last 10 days... Surprise: departure tax is never included in the price of the ticket - have 20 AUD to pay it in cash...



You can see more pictures on my private website: www.kontynenty.net/Christmas1.htm

Published on Sunday December 23th, 2007


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Tue, Feb 12 2008 - 12:09 PM rating by krisek

Bravo! As always great pictures and plenty of practical information!

Thu, Jan 17 2008 - 01:28 PM rating by bineba

Your reports are always a pleasure to read. Thank you!

Thu, Jan 17 2008 - 08:45 AM rating by magsalex

This looks like an idyllic adventure. Great report.

Thu, Jan 03 2008 - 03:29 AM rating by downundergal

Interesting report and what a great spot to spend Christmas. Its not a distant place for me but it is somewhere that has never crossed my mind to visit.
You are one of Globos true travellers!

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 03:02 PM rating by marianne

Excellent report and excellent information for anyone who want to go there.

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 02:04 PM rating by bertison

well, you opened my mind for a place not often heard about. but now its getting clearer. marry christmas.

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 10:33 AM rating by adampl

Excellent report from an exotic place that only few can visit in person. Thanks to you we could feel the atmosphere of this remote island. Many thanks for showing us the world!

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 09:47 AM rating by davidx

Excellent report in all respects. What an amazing experience!

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 08:25 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent, an exiting remote location that you have decorated so well with amazing pictures and descriptions. What better Christmas present to GLOBO? [4.65]

Sun, Dec 23 2007 - 07:14 AM rating by jorgesanchez

This is a Master Report!
It contains wonderful pictures, captivating text, exotica, remoteness…
I am sure that every one of us would like to travel there.
In the past I wanted myself to get to Christmas Island because I heard that is a unique place in the world. I checked the atlas, bought the airline ticket in the year 2004 and ….I made a mistake; instead of landing in Christmas Island in Kiribati, in hte Pacific Ocean, my plane took me to Christmas Island in Western Australia, in the Indian Ocean!...

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