Posted by: ghostdawg2 | December 7, 2009

Christmas Island (Kiritmati) the island of the red crabs by Jorgejuansanchez / Jul 3 2005

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photo by ravingamicks

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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