This post was updated on 5th February, 2014. See correction below for details.
From adventures on a pristine island to long hikes to getting in touch with wildlife, Quotient proposes a few quirky ideas to celebrate New Year’s Day by breaking away from traditions and the conventional.
Sunbathing on Christmas Island, Australia
If you loathe the idea of a wintry Christmas but still want to be reminded of the season, Christmas Island with its tropical equatorial climate with pleasant temperatures would make perfect sense. The tiny Australian territory is renowned for its beautiful beaches and the unusual crab migration which starts with the first heavy rains in October, November or December. However, in case you do miss the spectacle of the marching red crustacea on the entire island, don’t fret, as you can still experience the beauty of the limestone cliffs, the remoteness of the beaches and the mix of culture and history.
Volunteering with orangutans in Sarawak, Malaysia
It is the season of giving so grab your backpack and embark on a different type of adventure in the lush rainforests of Borneo. Stints at rehabilitation centres offer you the opportunity to come up close to the wild man, learn about their habits and help improve or maintain the park surroundings they live in. Besides immersing in the wildlife environment, the centres may have other special programmes such as cooking, fishing, interacting with the tribes, night walking in the open jungle and swimming in the rivers and waterfalls.
Undergoing a wellness retreat, the Philippines
Start the year right — with a cleansed palate, renewed frame of mind and a more energetic body. While Indonesia’s famed Island of the Gods comes to mind, there are other options so you don’t have to visit Bali for the umpteenth time. Southeast Asian neighbour the Philippines, for example, has a variety of options in each of its three main island groups — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao — from vegan or juice detox therapy to yoga and mental health rejuvenation programmes to a geothermal spa modelled after Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.
Conquering peaks, Nepal
Home to the world’s highest mountain and some of the most awe-inspiring vistas globally, Nepal is a paradise on earth to many. And in recent years, trekking in the Everest region has become not only the privilege of hard-core mountaineers but also any fit person looking for a burst of adventure. If you can’t be in heaven, welcoming 2014 by waking up to a view of the majestic Everest and its neighbouring peaks of Ama Dablam, Makalu, Nuptse, and Lhotse is not that bad. Instead of the overcrowded Everest Base Camp route, consider alternatives such as the Gokyo valley with its stunning turquoise glacial lakes and stupendous panoramas of the Everest range. Choosing your preferred route might prove to be as strenuous, if not more, than packing for your high-altitude journey!
Celebrating oshogatsu, Japan
Unthinkable to do without traditions for New Year crossovers? Well, at least usher in 2014 in a place with more unique customs. Japan is a strong contender, considering the New Year or oshogatsu is the most important holiday in the country. The Japanese celebrate the occasion with a series of practices such as bonenkai or parties meant to leave the worries of the last year behind; another popular practice is hatsumōde, which requires joining the crowd for the year’s first visit to the temple and shrine. At the stroke of midnight, Buddhist temples throughout the Japan ring the tsura-gane bell 108 times.
Correction: This post originally associated the Australian territory of Christmas Island with that of Kiritimati, the Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.