Trail Of The Unexpected: Christmas card
Saturday 20 December 2008
From Lent (the Netherlands) to Trinity Peninsula (Antarctica) via Jesus Island (Quebec), Christianity can take you around the world – to islands where it is Christmas every day: one in the Pacific Ocean, the other in the Indian Ocean.
In theory, you could fly from Christmas (Indian Ocean) to Christmas (Pacific Ocean) across the International Date Line in successive days, and enjoy two Christmases on Christmas Island. But you'd have to be crackers.
Christmas island (pacific ocean)
This festive isle is part of the Kiribati archipelago, and comprises the largest coral atoll in the world. It is an isle the shape of an adjustable wrench located in the Pacific Ocean, and is known locally as Kiritimati – which is pronounced "Kirissmass". The settlement of London faces another called Paris across the lagoon formed by the jaws of said spanner, while the largest town (perched where the calibrator would be) is, perversely, called Poland.
The time on Christmas Island is 10 hours and many decades behind that in Britain. To experience this idyll, fly in to the airfield that unhappily adjoins the Bay of Wrecks. You need to fix up this connecting flight from Tarawa, which itself is a tricky destination to reach; but at least when you get there, you can spend cash in Australian dollars, one of the few currencies against which sterling has held its value.
Christmas island (indian ocean)
Although the nearest mainland is Java, 200 miles away, Christmas Island is officially part of Australia, 1,000 miles distant. Recent years have seen a lot of building work on the island, due to the prospect of the island conducting space launches on behalf of Russia, but so far this has not come to fruition. The trip to the island from London involves transiting Perth in Western Australia, which will cost you £1,111 if you fly on Christmas Day on the non-stop Qantas flight from Heathrow. From here, an organisation called National Jet System will get you to an airport whose scale is out of all proportion to the number of inhabitants – 1,600.
Did this speck of land, discovered by one Captain Mynars on 25 December 1643, put the "X" in Xmas? Possibly not, but your luggage tag will show the code XCH.
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