At first glance, spending the Christmas holidays on a tropical Buddhist paradise island may not provide the stereotyped western traditions that most of us would associate with the festive season. The busy commercial Christmas bustle, generous portions of rich food, cold nights in a warm home, the hope for a few snowy days off work, and of course the company of close family and friends. The Thai people don’t typically celebrate Christmas, and in addition to the tropical climate, environment and scenery there is little but the date to convince you that Christmas has actually arrived. However… this is only on the surface, and as divers we like to dive a little deeper!
There are plenty of opportunities to find the Christmas spirit on Koh Tao! As a traveller and backpacking hotspot there are plenty of people around who do celebrate Christmas, and many of whom celebrate passionately. This has a spill over effect to the local community who understand that for many of us on the island, this is a time of celebration and enjoyment. Local stalls sell Christmas decorations and Santa hats and many restaurants and bars decorate with tinsel, baubles and mini Christmas trees to recreate some familiar Christmas cheer. The local Thai cuisine may be the day to day choice for most travellers meals, but on Christmas day there are several options for a traditional Christmas roast dinner. Menus and prices range from place to place, but all are guaranteed to serve up a delicious and generous meal that’ll give you the taste of Christmas away from home.
As for the weather, there is no chance of a white Christmas unfortunately, but the golden sands and blue skies are a preferable substitute in my opinion. Who really wants to be wrapped in a hideous Christmas jumper anyway?
Unfortunately the one thing that can’t be replaced or replicated so easily is the company of family and friends from home. The majority of travellers are here alone or in small groups… but this is where the true meaning of Christmas lies. Although nearly everyone is away from their homes and families, everyone is brought together by a common holiday to celebrate and be grateful for what they have and where they are. We’re here on a beautiful island, surrounded by a wonderful culture and community, in the company of new friends willing to share in festivities, and we spend our days diving in a ocean of serenity and wonder. Now that’s all I want for Christmas.
So although we may not be able to recreate all the home comforts and traditions, we can certainly celebrate and enjoy an unforgettable christmas among amazing new places, exciting experiences, and most importantly wonderful people.