Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Congress in the Sun

The International Naturist Federation's next congress, as I have written before, takes place in late August in Croatia, at the Valalta resort in the picturesque town of Rovinj. Its theme is "Back to the Roots - The Future of Organized Naturism."
You could wonder why I would like to spend beautiful summer days holed up inside listening to speeches and debates. Instead of lying around outside in the sun, getting a seamless tan, swimming, or playing a game of tennis.
But I see this as a unique opportunity. I've always liked congresses and meetings, because it's an opportunity to learn, to hear other points of view.
And this will be my first international naturist congress, so I will be hearing about the problems and advantages of naturism in other countries. I hope to be learning about methods on how to promote naturism in Taiwan and Asia, which is my task and my hobby. I feel strongly that naturism is a social phenomenon that will gain in importance in the near future, as tolerance expands beyond the shores of "Western" countries in Europe and North America, in the first place to other new democracies in East Asia. Asia Pacific countries are open to experiences and lifestyles from the West, and naturism will break through - sooner or later.
I want to know how to play a role in this evolution, and that's why I'm so eager to meet naturists with more experience in this than I have. I want to learn from the best, so to speak. Attending the August congress in Croatia will provide me with tonnes of information, with new ways to play my role to the fullest. In the other direction, through a report I already handed to the organizers I will be able to tell the congress what naturism in Taiwan and Asia is like, what the problems are, but also what the opportunities are.
Never mind the sunshine outside, inside my best naturist experience ever should happen.
For more about my hopes for the congress and its aftermath, check out this blog soon - I will be writing more within a week or so.
Until then, naturists of Asia and elsewhere, enjoy life!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Destination Croatia

Getting there is half the fun, I wrote in one of my previous posts, and yes, I still haven't managed to get a booking confirmed. Wanting to leave Croatia and get back to Asia around August 31 is the problem, because that's when all Europeans leave their holiday behind to return to their schools and jobs in the rapidly cooling north and west of the old continent.
As to why Croatia? If you're in Asia, you probably only know that country as a former communist state, or in the worst case, as a leftover from the jumble of wartorn Yugoslavia.
But even decades before war erupted, Croatia was already a popular country with European tourists, partly because of its rich cultural heritage, its buildings from the Roman, Venetian and Hapsburg periods. And it was also thoroughly modern, as the home of one of Europe's largest concentrations of naturist holiday resorts.
And that is why I will be headed for Croatia this summer. The Mediterranean country will play host to one of the highlights of the world's naturist community: the congress of the International Naturist Federation.
The INF - a link to its website is at the top right of this blog - holds a world congress once every two years in a different country. Though I wished they might have chosen a more approachable location for my first congress, I still want to attend.
The INF usually does not allow individuals to attend its congresses, because it is an alliance of local federations of naturists. In one country, you will have a wide range of local clubs and associations. Those will join together in one naturist federation on the national level, and then become members of the INF. It is only in countries where naturism is not legal that the INF will have individual members or local "correspondents." In Asia, countries in this situation are India, Japan and Taiwan.
This year's congress, in the small but colorful and very touristic town of Rovinj in the north, on Croatia's coast, has as its theme "Back to the Roots - The Future of Organized Naturism." And I'll tell you more about the congress, its theme, and why I want to be there this time, in one of my next posts.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Taiwanese tourists, a Greek beach, and staring

One of Taiwan's most prominent newspapers, the China Times, mentioned naturism in its travel supplement today. Rather than introduce the concept of naturism or a resort, it printed the tale of a Taiwanese tourist visiting the Greek island of Mykonos.
One of the items of his tour group's to-do list on that island was apparently to take a walk past Paradise Beach. As many people know, that is a prominent clothes-optional stretch of sand extremely popular with foreign tourists during summer.
But the tour group's aim was not to join in the fun, no, all they did was just walk past the beach ... and gawk at all the topless women enjoying the simple pleasure of sunning and swimming without too many clothes on, in other words, the key activity here was not naturism, but voyeurism.
The guide, whoever he or she was, then offered to take the group to Super Paradise Beach, the totally naturist beach. But here, the Taiwanese tourists declined, either because of shame - what a shame - or, let's hope, because so much voyeurism was even too much for them.
The tourist writes that he felt odd on the beach, because people were looking at him and his travel companions as if they were naked, and not the sunbathers on the beach. In the end, the writer wondered whether his group hadn't been too rude by staring at the naturists.
At least, bravo, he's seen the problem. If you want to go to a naturist beach, you should be as brave as to stop the staring and either join in the fun, or just leave!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Getting There is Half the Fun

Yes, as I said in my previous post, I'm headed for the naturist resorts of Croatia this coming summer. But getting there is not as simple as I first thought. Of course, from Taiwan, I can either change flights at some major Asian hub - like Hong Kong or Singapore - and then continue on to Europe. But there's the snag. Croatia's capital is Zagreb, and that's way inland from the naturist resorts on the coasts. Also before I get to the naturist resorts, I want to travel around the country, beginning from Dubrovnik in the far south. It would be far more convenient if I flew straight down from whatever European airport I arrived in from Taiwan to Dubrovnik, but it's not as simple as that. An alternative would be to use Vienna or Venice and travel down to Croatia by bus and/or train.
Anyway, the more serious problem I have is the time I chose: late August. Exactly, the time when most Europeans are on holiday. Especially the Italians - Croatia's neighbors - will be visiting the Adriatic coast. And that's where my second problem comes in. Because of work reasons, I wanted to leave Croatia around August 30 to fly back to Taiwan. But the flights I want to take are already full, so I'm on a waiting list. If the problem really doesn't get solved soon, I'll do the obvious: put my trip back, arrive in Croatia later than my planned date, and leave in early September instead of the last weekend in August, when most Europeans head home to work and school.
Why do I really want to be in Croatia at a naturist resort in late August? More about that in my next post.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

A Real Naturist Vacation in 2004

At last! I'm looking forward to a real naturist vacation in 2004. Not as I have done on many occasions, book a hotel room at a "textile" hotel - as we naturists call a hotel where you have to keep your clothes on - and then walk around the rocks, bushes and remote paths to find a beach where I could enjoy the sun and the water like any naturist would.
In the best case, that was a piece of beach in a remote spot also chosen by other naturists. Which meant that at least there was some like-minded company, and perhaps even a beach bar nearby.
In the worst case, it meant just a remote stretch of sand. With nobody there. Just you and the rocks, and the sand, and the sun, and the sea. Not bad either, but not very social, and naturism is just another name for social nudity.
I remember a beach like that on the Greek island of Santorini. My guidebook - which must have been seriously out of date - recommended one particular beach near an airport. I went there, found a nice beach indeed, but no naturists or any other people. Just an abandoned fishing boat. And I decided there and then that this was the naturist beach mentioned in the book. So I put my towel down and enjoyed the beach. Later other tourists passed by, some elderly Greek fishermen, an Italian couple, young Northern Europeans. None of them seemed to mind my presence, but none of them joined me. The beach was all of mine, but a bit lonely.
Anyway, that's not for me this year. As I said, a real naturist vacation. And that means a holiday at a total naturist resort. Where I don't have to wear any clothes at all, not on the beach, but also not around the resort grounds, not in the shops, not in or around my room, and not even at the restaurant. That's what I've been looking forward to for years now.
And where is it, you ask, where in Asia? Well, unfortunately, it's not in Asia, but in far-away Europe, and hard-to-reach Croatia, to be more precise.
Why am I going there? More in my next post. But I'm already hard at work planning. For the naturist summer of 2004.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Yes, Asians enjoy nude swimming too!

And Renee from Hsintien in Taiwan is there to prove it! She had a column published in the island's mass-circulation United Daily News today, on page F4, at the back of the paper's weekly travel supplement.

Renee tells about how she rented a villa in Bali and went swimming - in the nude. She writes that she didn't lock herself to do that, but took her clothes off in front of others. Last September, Renee went on a trip with her female friends. There they rented an expensive villa, among the palm trees, with a swimming pool. It looked so good when they first arrived, Renee writes, that they didn't bother changing into swimming outfits, they just undressed and jumped into the water. Renee likes swimming, but had never done so in the nude, and never with friends.

Each time I think of that nude swim, I can't help admire my own courage, Renee concludes the article. Like many Asians, Renee discovered the joys of naturism during an overseas trip, not to a naturist beach, but to a private space. Now, if she could only find the same atmosphere back in her native Taiwan. Naturism would move a bold step forward if more people like that told their stories and found a naturist space in their home country.