Christmas atmosphere on your trip af The editorial staff RejsRejsRejs
4. Advent: Danish Christmas food in China
While studying Chinese, I lived in the Chinese capital for half a year Beijing, when I was studying at Peking University. That was in 2006, and it was in the fall and winter. That's why I had to spend Christmas over there too. Let it be said right away: It became a bit of a challenge to celebrate Danish Christmas China.
I shared an apartment with two Danish fellow students, and in addition I was visited by two friends from home, so we would try to keep as Danish a Christmas as possible. The food is a big part of Christmas and of course we had to have pork, duck, red cabbage, potatoes and brown sauce. At least that was the plan.
Get in the Christmas spirit on duck and pig hunting
Our local restaurants had lots of dishes with pork and duck, but it would be a shame to say that they are reminiscent of Danish Christmas food. It's something completely different. We explored the local area and tasted a wide range of really good - and a few not so good - Chinese dishes, and we ended up going with something very Chinese: Peking duck. Not very Christmas, but a duck is probably a duck.
Pork was also on the menu and we had given up in advance to find roast pork. It is not easy to find an oven in traditional Beijing, as it just is not exactly the kind one uses to cook; here it is the wok that reigns in the kitchen. So it had to be pig in a different way. We were already fond of the familiar dish of pork in sour-sweet sauce and chili, so we had to have that.
In a Christmas mood with red cabbage and rösti
You can get red cabbage if you can settle for the raw version. Our jam abilities were too limited for us to experiment with that kind of thing, so we had to settle.
The potatoes came from our West Chinese restaurant, where they had a really good mashed potato and some delicious rösti. It's not quite the same as browned potatoes - but good it was!
The sacred food color
Then we come to the sauce. The brown sauce. It was worse… It is simply not possible to find food coloring in Beijing, so we had to improvise. An ordinary flour-based pickle was added equal amounts of soy, oyster sauce and red cabbage juice. It gave a pale-purple substance, which at least did not taste of brown sauce. In the glow of candles and with closed eyes and nostrils, we could almost convince ourselves that it was brown sauce. Almost.
All in all, we had a really fun Christmas and it is definitely a Christmas that we will not forget just yet. China is really exciting and full of Chinese delicacies - but Danish Christmas food is still a bit of a challenge. We did it as best we could, and still came in but still with Christmas spirit.
Read about Sascha's Christmas in New Zealand below the picture
Advent: (H) Christmas in New Zealand
Christmas lasts until a motorhome in New Zealand.
For many, Christmas may be both holy and in a very specific way. The one way in which a wrong color on the Christmas tablecloth can ruin the whole evening, or if 'Nice is the earth' is not sung for the Christmas service in the church. And not to mention the sauce at all. If it is not right in the closet, then everything is ruined. That's how I really feel too. In a way at least, and yet far from, or right with the sauce, it should preferably be right in the cupboard. But I hugely like to shake up the slightly old, pardon my French, but at times asshole and stressful Christmas traditions. I do it best by slipping. Preferably as far away as possible.
The perfect Christmas with a good Christmas atmosphere
The perfect thing for me is Christmas at home, Christmas out, Christmas at home, and then just Christmas out again. Then you get the best of it almost at once, and you actually get to look forward to the next 'home Christmas'.
I have since celebrated Christmas in quite a few places. From the neon-lit plastic Christmas tree mecca over them all in Malaysia, to my parents' home, where of course it is always one big tradition, to a motorhome on New Zealand. Without both neon and plastic Christmas tree. And snow for that matter.
Here is a great travel offer for New Zealand's impressive scenery
Christmas far away from Denmark
And this is where we're going now. So far away from Denmark, as we can get, on a campsite without either glitter, glamor or neon colored plastic. We drove New Zealand thin in one of those (for you who have been there) piss' smart, orange space ship cars. Such a mini version of a motorhome, ie the cheap model, where you just pitch a tent on the boot. We lived there.
Pygmy Christmas tree and almost traditional Christmas dinner in the camper
Christmas Eve we walked around in but still with Christmas spirit and shopped as if it were any other day. We are not really used to that part here at home either, where you reach the max in the local use to panic buying the latter. We went somewhat near crazy in some of the slightly more luxurious souvenir Christmas presents that we wrapped in what we just had. Christmas presents were needed, and as a backpacker you don't carry that kind of thing from home. We bought a tiny Christmas tree, shopped for some goodies and then we started making a luxury dinner. Everything feels as luxurious as you can make in a camping kitchen.
It turned into chicken, potatoes, gravy and salad. Very close to luxury. At least when you do it on a campsite in a micro kitchen without equipment. Then we went back to our car, sang a little Christmas carol while looking at our pygmy Christmas tree, wrapped presents and saw Pyrus, and then of course we called our parents and wished Merry Christmas, like about 12 hours before they even had considered putting another in the oven.
Christmas is all about being together
I love the kind of Christmas where you shake up the traditions a bit and don't go into everything so solemnly. It gives' a bit of perspective and then it's a greater joy for next Christmas, so you learn to appreciate it and not stress around with unnecessary and petty things, spend far over budget, and go too much into the wrong things . After all, Christmas is really just about us being together. Whether it is at home or in a car New Zealand.
Merry 3rd Sunday in Advent, wherever you spend Christmas this year.
Read about Katrine's Christmas in Gran Canaria below the picture
Advent: Christmas on the Spanish terrace
Christmas Eve on the terrace in 20 degree heat? Yes, why not? In 2013, my mom, sister and I flew in Gran Canaria i Spain. We all shared the same opinion that this was a more liberating way to celebrate Christmas than having to embark on the big Christmas race at home.
We had lost a family member the year before, so a different and less stressful Christmas was clearly what was needed in the family. No stress from mom's side in the kitchen, no imposed Christmas traditions, just us, for Christmas and Christmas spirit in the heat.
A few festive Christmas experiences
On the way out one evening we came past a small cozy area with restaurants, small shops and bars. We sat down at a restaurant where it quietly dawned on us that the evening's entertainment was one Draq Show.
It was an incredibly entertaining and different evening and I have good picture of my sister and I along with a lot Draq Queens. My mother probably also changed her slightly conservative attitude in this area!
The next day we decided to go for a long walk on the beach. We quickly found out that our little stroll had ended on the nudist beach, so it was also festive, just in a slightly different way…
Christmas Eve without traditions
We celebrated Christmas Eve with a quiet dinner at the hotel, as far away from all the Danish Christmas traditions as possible. Exactly as we had wanted. The only little Christmas mood tradition we took with us to the South was a little Christmas present for each. My sister got something as simple as a sweater - a sweater she even managed to lose before we flew back to Denmark.
The beauty of this trip was that we agreed to go out traveling some more together. Just us three ladies. We have since visited boats Budapest og Dubrovnik, and our next considerations are on either Tallin or Krakow. As there is great variation in the age group, it is important to us that it is not that far away.
Happy 2nd Sunday in Advent, no matter where in the world you hold it.
Read about John's Christmas in Vietnam below the picture
1. Advent: Christmas on a prison lake
I love Christmas, but I must admit I love warmth at least as much. That's why my boyfriend and I decided last year to spend Christmas abroad - and preferably a place that could be combined with beach and experiences.
We had several places up to turn; at least 25 degrees and sun was a must though. We stumbled upon Con Dao, which is a relatively pristine archipelago in the south Vietnam. The main island Con Son is an old prison island and therefore offers both good weather, exciting history and unspoilt beaches. We packed the Santa hats a few days before Christmas and left.
The road to Christmas spirit and palm trees
From Ho Chi Minh City to Con Son it took 1 hour by plane. From airport to hotel we drove only 15 minutes before arriving at something reminiscent of paradise. Six Senses is one of the nicest hotels and places I have ever seen. With private pool and views of the beach from the room it could hardly be better. Despite the 30 degrees and palm trees, it was easy to get in the Christmas spirit as the whole hotel was decorated for Christmas.
From prison island to holiday paradise with a Christmas atmosphere
Con Dao, however, has more to offer than beautiful scenery and white beaches. The island is known for its bloody past and served as a prison until 1975.
When visiting the prison, one must be prepared for an exciting but gruesome experience. It's not hard to imagine how horrible the prison has been. As the picture shows, figures have been erected depicting the prisoners' lives as they were.
After the jail visit, we took our rented scooter and drove to the Van Son Pagoda. An impressive temple on a hilltop with beautiful views, wild monkeys and local Vietnamese who come here to pray.
Then the Christmas bottles were lit.
Finally, it was December 24th. We were prepared for the menu to be on Vietnamese spring rolls instead of roast pork. But to our great surprise, the hotel had made a Christmas buffet for all the guests, which offered both brown sauce, potatoes and duck. The atmosphere was good, the Christmas tree lit, it smelled of Christmas atmosphere and despite unfamiliar surroundings, we still felt at home for Christmas.
Happy 1st Sunday in Advent from here the editorial staff