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jorgesanchez Settlement - A travel report by jorge
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Settlement,  Christmas Island - flag Christmas Island
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jorgesanchez's travel reports

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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Christmas Island is much closer to Indonesia than to Australia. A third of the population is Malay, as it is called (they are mainly from Indonesia), another part is Chinese. The rest are Australians from European origin, plus some Maoris and Europeans.


some of the 120 million red crabs in Christmas Island
some of the 120 million red crabs in Christmas Island
You can fly to Christmas Island from Western Australia, Perth, for instance, but it is much cheaper from Bali. In Christmas there is an airplane service to Cocos Island, also known as Keeling. The main attraction for the traveller is to watch the 120 million of enormous red crabs in the island, which constitutes the main characteristic. Although it is forbidden to make any harm or to eat these crabs, you can not avoid killing many of them while driving through the island. It is very easy to make friends with the Australians. The second day some of them took me with their car around the mountainous island and showed me the blowholes, the exuberant bush inside the Natural Park (which occupies over 60 % of the island), the mangroves, etc. The population live mainly on the extraction of the phosphates. The only sad note about Christmas Islands was the grief that produced me the Refugees Camp that I saw while discovering the Island by bicycle. There live during years, without clear future, hundreds, if not thousands, of poor Vietnamese and natives of Sri Lanka and other poor neighbour countries. They are fed very well, I was told, but they are not allowed to immigrate to Australia. The other side of the story is that thanks to this camp, many people have good jobs.

Favourite spots:
rainforest in Christmas Island
rainforest in Christmas Island
The crabs migrate once a year to breed, marching from the rainforest slopes down to the ocean, and back to the forest. The crab’s enemies are the yellow crazy ants, which kill million of them every year. They spray formic acid onto the crabs, blinding them, and then they kill them and eat them. These ants constitute a danger to the ecosystem. Christmas Island is a paradise for sea activities lovers. You can practice diving, snorkelling, fishing, etc. Some tourists play golf while the red crabs walk on the ground. Depending of the period of your visit to the island you will be able to observe dolphins, whale sharks and giant turtles.

What's really great:
Nature in Cocos Island
Nature in Cocos Island
Cocos are a group of 27 coral atolls. The population live mainly on copra. In Cocos Island there are two communities, the “white” Australians, without churches and with the only hotel and a good restaurant (and another one besides the airport), and the Malay community, living in an atoll in front, with plenty of mosques, fishermen and an internet for free. You can sleep in the only hotel in the European Australian Island, called Cocos Castaway. Ask for friendly Jose, a native of East Timor who speaks good Portuguese and Spanish languages, apart from English, and is the man in charge of the hotel with bungalows and the cook of the restaurant. There is a ferry joining the two communities. Every morning the Malays come to work in the main island and return to their houses in the night with the last ferry. There is museum in the Malay island explaining the history of the archipelago and the destruction of the German warship Emden in its waters during the First World War.

Accommodations:
atoll near Cocos Island
atoll near Cocos Island
The only hostel for backpackers, very cheap and good, called Coconut Grove, is in the Settlement. The rooms are basic, just a bed, an ordinary wooden chair and a fan, but the garden is wonderful. The showers are outside. You can use the kitchen and the coffee is free.

Hangouts:
Malay wedding in Cocos Island
Malay wedding in Cocos Island
There is very pleasant pub by the beach called Jalan Rumag Tingg, where you can make friends, play darts and billiard, drink beers and listen to a local group singing lovely songs. It is situated just next door to the Coconut Grove.

Restaurants:
Christmas Island map looks like a little dog
Christmas Island map looks like a little dog
In the Settlement there is a simple but good Chinese restaurant with a large terrace facing the sea. You can also have dinner in the pub Jalan Rumag Tingg, before the living music starts. They have excellent Australian wines and beers Coronitas from Mexico, San Miguel from Philippines, Carlsberg from Denmark, etc. In the Plateau you find several Malay and Chinese food stalls.

Published on Wednesday June 22th, 2005


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Fri, Sep 09 2005 - 06:44 AM rating by horourke

Avery full report making a deep insight for me into many new aspects of this famous place

Tue, Jun 28 2005 - 10:32 PM rating by magsalex

Sounds a fascinating place!

Mon, Jun 27 2005 - 02:52 PM rating by britman

Great report - easy to read and full of information

Sun, Jun 26 2005 - 07:51 AM rating by marianne

Hi Jorge,
This sounds really interesting and I would like to visit. Your report is well written and gives excellent information

Marianne

Thu, Jun 23 2005 - 11:08 AM rating by fieryfox

Wow what a great report. I enjoyed reading it and learned quite a bit about the island. Thanks for sharing.
Farizan

Wed, Jun 22 2005 - 06:40 PM rating by rangutan

Another fantastic report Jorge! We were discussing the location of this island the otherday at GLOBO and you have cleared this up for good. (There is also a MINOR island of the same name in the Pacific too.)

Wed, Jun 22 2005 - 06:28 PM rating by davidx

Excellent again

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