The past four Christmases have been anything but traditional. Quite different from the family gatherings I had growing up. Since my husband and I have been traveling and living in Asia, we’ve had to make the most of the festive seasons away from home.
Christmas in South Korea…
With our first year abroad being in South Korea, we gathered with friends we had made in our small Korean town. A feast was put together in the form of a potluck and we got to taste foods originating from a variety of countries.
Christmas in Vietnam…
We had our next three Christmases in Vietnam. First in a town called Da Lat with three other friends. It was cold, we managed to find a cooked chicken and we feasted on mediocre food under a pagoda. The following year was in Sapa, a beautiful mountainous town in the North of Vietnam that is drenched in tourists and locals trying to make a quick buck. This was our first Christmas alone. Just the two of us. Romantic indeed. Also very cold and misty but it added a mystical, magical tone to the holiday. We had a Christmas day lunch at an interesting restaurant that served smoked buffalo and very potent rice wine.
An Island Christmas…
Christmas 2016 was the best. My mom and dad flew over from South Africa and together we went to Vietnam’s famous island, Phu Quoc. Phu Quoc is a magical place indeed. The first thing we did after arriving at our accommodation was rent motorbikes. We definitely got our money’s worth by traveling all over the island, exploring all it’s weird and wonderful corners. We woke up at an appropriate time (for vacation) each morning and gathered at the dining area for breakfast. Breakfast usually consisted of a ham omelette, an array of fruits and coffee. This became a ritual for us where we discussed our sleep quality of the night before followed by a discussion of the plan for the day.
To keep somewhat on track…
I started most days off with some form of exercise, whether it was a run, walk or body-weight training on the beach. After all, I had to do something to justify spending the rest of the day sedentary. I made sure to eat lots of salad, fresh seafood and vegetables which was well available in the area we were staying.
Each day was more relaxing than the last as we tried to do as little as possible. If we weren’t exploring the coastline by bike we were horizontal on the beach. And the paradise-like blue sea made it irresistible to swim. At night we made the most of the seafood and eventually stumbled across what became our favourite seafood restaurant. Sat at blue plastic chairs and tables, we feasted on a variety of ocean goodness and barbecued vegetables. The name of this restaurant was very creatively called “No Name Bbq”. Our resort, while not that amazing, was situated relatively close to the beach. It did encourage us to walk a lot more than we would have so that was a win in my books. We favoured Ong Lang beach because of it’s serene and somewhat rustic feel. It was a special time with family. From regrouping and planning at breakfast, to plenty outbursts of laughter, ocean water chats and night time card games. We all made the most of our time together, knowing that times like these are few and far between. We left the island 5 shades darker in colour, with much lower heart rates and happy smiling souls.
Things you should know…
If you are thinking of traveling to Phu Quoc, it is important to be aware that there is a lot of construction going on all over the island. They are developing it slowly but surely so if you want a taste of the natural beauty and rich seaside culture, I would recommend visiting it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, if you appreciate built-up, city-like island living then wait 10 years to experience a bustling tourist hub. Here is a list of some cool spots we visited, ate at and explored:
- Ong Lang beach – for tanning and swimming in the ocean
- Coco Palm Beach Resort and Spa – for lunch a swim in the ocean
- Suối Tranh Waterfall – for a scenic walk
- Noname BBQ – for seafood dinner
- Rory’s Beach Bar – for lunch/coffee and swim in the ocean
- Mango Bay Resort – for sundowners at the bar
- Night market – for street food and moderately priced seafood
Some more pics of our stay: