, 2022-12-23 02:00:00,
(CNN) — “The jungle is our playground, and the sea is our wonderland.”
That’s how Sook Yee Lai remembers her childhood on Christmas Island, an overseas territory of Australia that’s about a 3.5-hour flight northwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
“We do lots of free diving, snorkeling, diving, surfing, caving and walking through the jungle to hang out on hidden beaches,” Lai tells CNN Travel.
A remote gem in the Indian Ocean that’s closer to Indonesia than the Australia mainland, Christmas Island’s natural beauty has led many to refer to it as the “Galapagos of Australia.”
“It is a very special island,” she says. “We have a vibrant, beautiful and harmonious community in such a small, isolated place.”
Former Christmas Island resident Sook Yee Lai goes for a dive in Flying Fish Cove.
Courtesy Sook Yee Lai
A melting pot of cultures
Lai moved to Perth in 1997 when she was 15 to finish her high school education then study at university.
Although she now lives there permanently, Lai returns to Christmas Island frequently for work and to visit family and childhood…
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