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christmas abroad tara povey travel blog where is tara

Christmas is a lot of people’s favourite time of year. I’m no exception. The lights, the music, the food, the festivities – I love it. However, a lot of people spend Christmas abroad . What happens when you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas?

This isn’t my first Christmas abroad. I’ve spent the festive season in England, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Japan and this year Indonesia. The thing is…. Indonesia, being a mainly Muslim and Hindu country, is the first country I’ve spent Christmas where they don’t really do the whole Christmas “thing”. I’ve seen one tree, zero lights and zero tacky jumpers.

I should be spending this final week before the big event shopping for last minute gifts and trying to find the perfect outfit for Christmas dinner. At the very least I should be snuggled up inside wearing some form of micro fleece, pop socks and stuffing my face with Roses/ Quality Street.

Instead, I’ve just had a manicure and pedicure, went for a dip in the pool, and now I’m sitting as close as possible to the router to get some wifi. I’m VERY confused. All things considered this has prompted me to make a list of things I miss about Christmas at home.




Me and my sister at Christmas!:)

Me and my sister at Christmas!:)


Christmas in my house is usually a massive dinner full of crazy, loud women. This is where all our deep dark secrets and most embarrassing stories are revealed or relived for everyone’s entertainment. Normally it’s the same stories every year.

My personal favourite is when my older cousins were kids and they’d caught a vomiting bug. My aunty, in all her maternal glory, locked them in the bathroom and told their father to deal with them. She has a phobia of vomit you see. Another firm favourite is when my cousin got sick after having chinese  food and noodles came out her nose. Hahah.

Not often is a man courageous enough to brave this ordeal. However, it’s far more entertaining when they do. In fact, the first time my boyfriend met my family we played an awful trick on him at dinner. When the food arrived he, as always, dove straight in. We, a table of five women, all looked at him in mock horror,  and demanded to know why he hadn’t said grace.

He was mortified. We then invited him to say grace for us. Words completely evaded him. I thought he was going to choke on his food. Then we all exploded with laughter. We don’t say grace. But the look on his face was priceless. Christmas abroad does not have the same level of insanity.

Ferrets get into EVERYTHING

Ferrets get into EVERYTHING


Christmas for me is cats breaking into the front room, climbing Christmas trees and knocking down baubles. It’s ferrets tearing open presents before you do, or sniffing out your chocolate coins and hiding them under the sofa. It’s taking the rabbit in from the garden and having him sit on the sofa while we have our drinks.

It’s even collecting the wrapping paper, putting it in a bag and letting the rats run wild. Pets at Christmas are wonderful. They’re always wonderful,  but I especially miss them at this time of year.

3-Cold Weather

Right, so I suppose most people spend Christmas abroad to avoid the cold weather?! Not me. It tends to just fit into my travel plans and I roll with it…… so I happen to miss the cold!

I know most people in a cold climate will hate me for this but there’s just something so wonderful about cold and snow at Christmas; being wrapped up in scarves and jumpers and fluffy ear muffs. I should be thankful for the heat of Indonesia right now, but I just don’t want to be sweating at Christmas.

It’s not festive. No carol has ever mentioned the wonderful sweltering heat of Christmas. Snow is magical and so much fun and provides a wealth of photo opportunities. One year we made a snowman and shoved shards of ice from the pond through him and used red food dye to make it look like he was bleeding. haha.

Trust me, I remember how horrible the cold can be too. I haven’t forgotten the frostbitten fingers and numb toes, the three layers of socks and the tights worn under trousers. Now that I think about it, I probably am seeing this through somewhat rose-tinted lens. Hah. Nonetheless,  it’s going on the list!

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My favourite Xmas PJs

My favourite Xmas PJs


This is a tradition that my family have. I’m not sure if other people do it, but I definitely miss it. Every year myself and my sister will buy new, festive pyjamas (Primark/Penneys obviously) to wear on Christmas morning when we go downstairs to open our presents. Yep, we’re still children at heart.

This year I have no new festive pyjamas. Sure it’s 100% too hot for PJs, but something would be nice! Perhaps a festive bikini? Somehow I feel that it’s not quite the same. I’m just lucky that my boyfriend and his family were thoughtful enough to send me off with Santa hats and a Christmas jumper. I’ve been cranking the air con up and wearing that ridiculous jumper. So festive! 😛





Christmas dinner! God, the potatoes! Every different kind of potato imaginable. I know, I know, how Irish of me. But honestly, who doesn’t love the roast potatoes at Christmas dinner? Or the croquette potatoes? Or the mash! Gosh, the brussel sprouts cooked in bacon water, to die for. Then there’s all the cake, pudding and chocolate. Not to mention the free flowing alcohol. Baileys, with ICE!

Christmas is basically an anorexics nightmare and a chubby kid’s dream. Personally, I’d probably put on at least 7lbs over December if I was at home. I won’t miss that part! But this year I’ll be on a surf camp up in Java for Christmas so God knows what kind of dinner I’ll end up with. I’m pretty sure they’ll look at me like an alien if I request some Buck’s Fizz. Guys, stuff yourselves this year, for me!

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At one of FOUR Christmas parties that year.

At one of FOUR Christmas parties that year.

6-Christmas Parties

Parties EVERYWHERE- with work, with clubs or just with friends. One year I went to FOUR Christmas parties in the space of two weeks (You see now how I would manage to gain that 7lbs in December if I was at home).

Christmas parties are so much fun because everyone’s in high spirits. They’re also often full of mischief! One year the intern in one of the pharmacies calmly got up and went to the bathroom. When she came back she announced to the entire table that she had just been sick and needed another drink.

Upon later inspection of the bathroom she hadn’t even made it to the stall. It was like a scene from a horror film, but vomit instead of blood. I felt sorry for the bathroom attendant but it was also extremely funny. Oh and I got a fake moustache in my cracker, if that’s not winning then I don’t want to know what is! Hopefully there’ll be crackers at the surf camp. *crosses fingers*

When spending Christmas abroad you kind of need to find your own band of merry misfits that aren’t spending the holidays with their family either. Then you can have your own party I guess!


Home made Christmas cards

Home made Christmas cards

7-Buying & Wrapping Presents

I LOVE giving presents. I LOVE finding the perfect thing for someone and just knowing how much they’ll love it. Some people find it hard to get presents for certain people. I never do. I think it’s a supernatural gift of mine.

I love searching for hours online or braving the crowds in town to find the perfect wrapping paper or ribbon. In fact, sometimes I’ll even make cards and personalised wrapping paper for people.

I know shopping is probably most people’s least favourite part of Christmas, but for me it all adds to the Christmas cheer. I must admit that the shopping in Indonesia is amazing…. but it’s not exactly festive!

Plus, I don’t have the time to post any presents home, so this year the only shopping I’ve done has been online. It’s not quite as fun. No wrapping or making cards. Do I sound whiney yet? Sorry!

8-Christmas Markets

Unsurprisingly,  there’s none in Kuta. I love the atmosphere at Christmas markets. Everyone is wrapped up, nursing their cup of warm cider or mulled wine as they wander between the stalls. It’s like a scene from a greeting card. I used to go every year. There was a nice one down at the docks in Dublin and there’s a gorgeous one in Totnes in Devon.

There are plenty of stalls around here but no mulled wine or handmade Christmas goods for sale. However, I’m definitely saving a lot of money being in Indonesia for Christmas! I guess I can’t complain about that.

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Look how lovely they are!

Look how lovely they are!


I am obsessed with gingerbread men and cake themed decorations. When I was living in England I managed to get together quite a collection. I loved putting them all up. In fact, I definitely left them up for all of January.

At the moment I’m staying in a hotel with zero decorations. There is not a gingerbread man in sight! I’m completely living vicariously through my friend’s facebook updates on their decorating. I do have a gingerbread lady version of Minnie Mouse hanging off my backpack that I got in Disneyland Tokyo last year. That’s as close as I’m getting to Christmas decorations, haha. If you have gingerbread/ cake decorations, send me a photo.  I love them!

10-Christmas TV Ads

The Coke ad with the truck, the Kellogs ad with that adorable little blonde child meeting Santa, the iconic Budweiser horses – they all tell us that it’s nearly Christmas. There’s nothing that signals the arrival of the festive season more than when you turn on your TV and see the Coke truck.

That’s kind of sad when I think about it in a consumerism kind of way, but I’ll try not to. Normally I hate those self-playing videos that pop up on FB but this year I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Holidays are coming, holidays are coming”, and see the bright lights of that symbolic truck as I scrolled through my home feed.

I haven’t been watching much TV over here, I’ve been catching up on The Walking Dead. But, I doubt they have such festive adverts in Indonesia. I suppose a lot of countries will play these incredibly famous ads, so I suppose it depends where you are whether this will be something you miss, but for me it definitely is!

ANYWAYS, here we are, at the end of my list. I’m sitting in a hotel in Bali feeling like there’s no way it’s Christmas in less than a week. But it will be, and I hope you guys all have the best Christmas (whether it’s a Christmas abroad or at home) and enjoy it wherever you are. Merry Christmas everyone and thank you guys for reading my blog over the past few months, you’re definitely all on the Nice List. 

Tara Povey travel blog luxury adventure travel

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3 Responses

  1. Jade Lee Wright

    Oh my lord. I’d PAY you to send me Christmas pjs like those……….. although I might die of sweltering heat in them right now… they are SO cute!!!

    This post really made me miss xmas in the UK Tara!! Aww can’t wait to experience a white xmas again someday.

    Oh hey – a little travel update from my side…. I’ll be flying off to Malawi in a week or two!!! Lake Malawi to be exact – tres tres excited about that 🙂

    While I’ve stopped by I thought I’d just wish you a welcome back to the Philippines! Enjoy it ladybug! x

  2. Aileen

    Awesome post, Tara! Your list is similar to mine, though the other way around. I’ve been in the tropics for ALL my life, so it’s my first time to see snow. Though in a way, I don’t miss the tropics because SNOW IS AWESOME. Haha!

    I’ve been battling with the cold alright, and I’m almost hating it, but so far, I’m fine 😉

    Other things I miss from home that’s not common in Europe are loud fireworks and intense gift giving. (Here in Belgium, it’s not a common thing haha!)


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