Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Finally I focused one of my posts in a different latitude! I accept I’ve a little obsession with islands. However, does exist a such far-off place  than a piece of land surrounded by the sea?

Cocos (Keeling) Islands (not be confused with Coco Islands, near Burma shores) consists of two atolls and 27 coral islands, of wich only 2 are inhabited. The highest point is only 5 m over the sea, so these islands might be buried by the ocean in the next decades if the global warming forecasts met.

Cocos Keeling Islands on the map

Cocos Keeling Islands on the map

Despite his isolation, it belongs to Australia since 1955. These are the typical tropical islands we see on TV with white sand beaches, clear sea water, coconuts, dense forests…

One small Coco Keeling Island

One small Coco Keeling Island

The 600 islanders are split in two ethnic groups: the Europeans in the West Island, and the Malays on Home Island. The Coco Malays are originated from the descendants of Malay settlers from the British colonies of Brisitsh Malays, Singapore, Brunei and the Riau Archipelago, who arrived and settled at 1826.

Blue thongues (www.rebubbles.com)

Blue thongues (www.redbubbles.com)

For most of the population it will be the heaven of relax and warm, but they must know that the cost of living here is really expensive (they import almost goods). Also to arrive there you will need 1300 AUD $ per person for the flight tickets between Perth (Australia) and the Islands, and we must add the flight ticket from home to Australia too!

Places like that are on my far-off places agenda, but in a secondly term. I need more roughness, inclement, extremes, cold, ice…

Enjoy the video and never stop dreaming!

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Westray & Papa Westray

I’ve been in hibernation in my blog activity these months, even though I’ve come back plenty of energy and ideas. I haven’t stopped to dream about all the magic places of the Far-off World. And since I visited one of them, I think I can never stop to find out.

As I promise you 4 months ago I’ll tell you about my Orkney experience. After 2 days of adaptation in Kirkwall and surroundings, I started to move around the Small Islands.

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The first were Westray (the largest) and Papa Westray (or Papay). Both are connected to Kirkwall by plane and ferry, although I tried to get the ferry, slower but so much cheaper than plane.

Westray

First I went to Westray, a really small island, at most 8 km large. As you can see in the picture there aren’t any mountain or slope, Westray is completely flat. However, it has spectacular cliffs on the western shores and a lot of bays and sand beaches along the island. Also there are a pair of wee lochs at the centre of the island.

Bay of Pierowall

Bay of Pierowall

Bay of Swartmill

Bay of Swartmill

Noup Head

Noup Head

Also throughout Orkney, in Westray there are many archaeological sites and castles as well.

Knowe o'Skea

Knowe o’Skea

Noltland Castle

Noltland Castle

In Westray there are only a village, Pierowall with a population of 100 pepole. The rest of inhabitants of Westray live along the island creating a patchwork.

But if you would like to stay alone in a small piece of land, Papa Westray (or Papay for the locals) is your site. Only 4 km large and 70 inhabitants, without a typical settlement or village, only at 2 min flight by plane or 40 min by ferry from Westray. I’ve not many things to say about this heaven.

In Papay there are so few things that you can concentrate in simplicities such as the waves’s sound, the chilly wind cutting your face, the green of the rough grasslands, the splash of the water impacting on the rocks… You can feel the naure, the water and the land underfoot.

Knap of Howar: The oldest house in northern Europe

Knap of Howar: The oldest house in northern Europe

St. Boniface Kirk: One of the oldest Christian site in Northern Scotland, dating from 12th century

St. Boniface Kirk: One of the oldest Christian site in Northern Scotland, dating from 12th century

Mull Head

Mull Head

Northwick Bay

Northwick Bay

Southwick Bay on winter

Southwick Bay

At the centre of the island is the only shop, run by the islands community co-operative, it is the focal point of the community life. Adjoining the shop is the Beltane House, tun by the community as a hostel ad a venue for community social events.

On Papay the most important thing is the community, it seems to be a so large family, energetically self-sustaining. I think it’s a good sustainable economic model, based on people and their land and not on finances and virtual economy. Can most of Europe will be able to live in such a sustainable isle like Papay?

Youtube has not interesting videos about Westray and Papay (except the shortest scheduled flight in the world between these islands). But if you are interested, enjoy these freaky videos!