Let’s talk about enjoying the holidays while travelling. Allow me to start with a personal story…..It was about 1100AM when our half hour flight arrived to Mulu. It was boxing day, it was hot, and we were not sure where we were going to stay. So, we started walking toward Mulu National Park and right outside the park we heard loud music coming from a homestay. Before we knew it, our backpacks thrown down in our room and we were invited, basically pulled into the loud music, where we were now enjoying some family holiday festivities.
The family we joined was visiting the owners of the hostel and quickly began pouring us multiple drinks and cheering for us to “1 go” (basically chug our whiskey and tuok, which is a local rice wine). They also taught us how to do one of their local dances and shared some wild boar and cookies. It was really all very exciting, especially considering we spent Christmas away from family. This family was more than welcoming and just having a good time!
As I laughed and leaned how to say cheers while literally getting carried back to the table for a another drink, I felt like I was at home for the holidays. Then, all of the sudden, the entire family went in the backyard as a longboat arrived and everyone left to go home ! Yup, did I mention it was only about 1100AM when we arrived? Now I was very drunk at noon in the middle of Mulu! What an experience!
Depending on where you are travelling, different countries will celebrate a variety of holidays. If you are like me, a Canadian used to celebrating a white Christmas, you may find yourself missing all the snow and traditions of back home. As my story may have alluded to this past Christmas season while in Malaysia, we were excited to learn that there are many Christians that do celebrate Christmas. Beyond my crazy and fun encounter on Boxing Day, over the course of the December holidays we found ourselves at a few holiday festivals and events. A simple search for local events led us to a 2 Christmas festivals, with live music and great food and we also saw a local school parade with a bunch of cute kiddies in Kapit.
As such, my first suggestion is to participate in the the local holiday events. This suggestion is the same for local holidays, not just your traditions back home. Learn about the local holiday traditions and participate, where possible and respectfully. In my experience, locals are often excited to teach you about their traditions and invite you to enjoy with them!
Another tip is have some fun and be creative about celebrating your holidays. If you are backpacking, buying gifts can be more of a burden because you likely do not want to carry around extra things for months. So, being creative about the holidays is the way to go. Yogi and I decided to buy stockings and order room service for our first time. To fill our stockings we created a bit of a game, to help guide our gift giving. Feel free to steal this idea, or get creative with your own for any holiday.
Our Christmas Gift Scavenger Hunt
Something from me to you
Something for us to do
Something that reminds us of home
Something that helps us roam
We had a small budget and tons of fun running around a shopping centre, trying not to let one other catch us buying anything. I even bought confetti and fake snow for Yogis stocking, which was a huge mess but totally worth it. I bought socks with pot leaves on them and a funny shirt that said I love my girlfriend, and each were too small for Yogi so I get to wear them!! A lot of clothes in Asia tend to be smaller sizes than in North America, but its all in fun and part of the experience.
Third simple tip, Skype with your friends and family. My sister put the camera on the couch and I watched my niece open up her stocking on Christmas morning. We also have a shared online folder where we could share what we were doing at midnight on NYE since we are in different time zones 🙂 Simple and fun!
Have any stories or ideas from your holiday travels? Please share avec moi. You can shoot me an email or comment directly on this post.