Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Naturism the cramped way

One of the problems of a naturist in Asia is the urban environment.
In Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, naturists will often live in the city, in apartments that are often smaller than what people in Europe, North America or Australia and New Zealand are used to.
Add to that the complete absence of naturist public facilities, and you know you're in for a problem. Asian countries have no naturist resorts, no naturist hours at swimming pools, no free beaches hidden behind the rocks.

So what's an Asian naturist to do?
The risky way out is to go hiking in the mountains alone or with friends - hardly an option in city-states Hong Kong and Singapore, I know - and find a nice secluded spot, a lake, a river, a patch of grass. Then take your clothes off and enjoy nature, enjoy the sunshine. If you're not worried about other hikers in those densely-populated countries having the same idea minus the naturism part.

In urban environments in Asian countries, the most common form of naturism is joining a small group. They are not really clubs, because there is no membership fee or register as such. They are just about a dozen people who know and trust each other enough to hold regular naturist activities.

And because of the problem of lack of space, those activities will almost always be held indoors. Either at the home of one of the naturists, or at a closed space that can be rented. As a naturist in Asia, you can try and find a restaurant or cafe that is willing to rent out a closed place for you to hold a naturist meeting, a dinner, a singing contest, a barbecue. In countries with a strong spa culture - such as Japan and Taiwan - naturists can also rent a suite at a spa resort. The public rooms in such spas are often "naturist," but not mixed, so you still have to resort to private spaces if you want to enjoy real naturism.

In my next posts, I hope to deal with more of the problems and solutions for naturists in Asia, as well as write about my personal experiences in naturism in Europe, America and Asia. This blog will also comment on topics in the news related to naturism, especially in Asia.
If you are visiting this blog now, you are probably part of a small minority, but in the near future, I plan to launch a full-fledged "marketing campaign" to attract more of you interested in my pet topic: naturism in Asia
See you around!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Naturist Decade

In my previous post, I discussed some of the more pessimist aspects of East Asia that might slow down the introduction of naturism. Mark: I said "slow down," not "prevent."
And that's because I think that Asia is still moving in the right direction. One day, I believe, Asians in many, but maybe not all, countries, will have the opportunity to swim and play sports on free beaches, and at naturist resorts equipped with swimming pools, basketball and volleyball courts, miniature golf courts.
Why am I so optimistic? Because Asians today are among the most cosmopolitan people in the world. Young people want to learn English, and want to study in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. And many of them already do. Asian countries are strong in international trade, sending their business people to the West. While studying, visiting and traveling in those countries, they are exposed to local customs. In many of those countries, naturism is a widely-accepted way of life.
Maybe their first experience of naturism will happen during a walk on the beach, suddenly stumbling upon a free beach: a section of the beach set apart - officially or not - for nude bathing. Asian coming upon those beaches will at first be curious or scared, but after a while, they must come to think: if so many westerners take nude bathing for granted, what's wrong about it? Why can't we?
Returning to their native country after their trip or studies, they will start wondering: why can't we have such beaches in our own country?
And that is exactly what is happening in Asia today. An unknown number of Asians have learnt about naturism overseas, and want to introduce it at home. There, they still face conservative attitudes and the law.
But the movement has started. And it's unstoppable. Within the next few years, we will see a growing call for the legalization of social nudity. This will be the naturist decade in Asia, and with this blog I want to be part of that, I want to give the movement a push in the right direction.
The uninformed majority and the media still see naturism as something alien, but a growing number of ordinary citizens know better. And some politicians are already catching on.
But that is something for a future episode of my weblog.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Happy Chinese New Year

The Year of the Monkey is upon us. In most of East Asia, the new year is also bringing freezing temperatures, the least perfect weather to go naturist!

But in Asia, the weather is the least of our problems.
In my previous posting, I already mentioned the problems government and religious philosophies create for social nudity.
Communism in China and Vietnam, Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia, conservative Catholicism in the Philippines and traditional conservative attitudes in the rest of the region will be hard to overcome.
But even in the more liberal, westernized and democratic areas - such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan - naturism is not on the eve of being accepted yet. And there, the enemy is - sensationalism.
A strong tabloid press is ready to sensationalize any form of nudity and heap it together with notions of "sex" and "scandal." Witness the numerous reports in the region's media about sex parties, gay parties, ecstasy parties, etc. Stories about naturism are only bound to be buried in the same heap of titillation.
Hand in hand with sensationalism comes voyeurism. People in many Asian countries like nudity - but only if it's shown by beautiful women. In contrast to Western countries, semi-naked women are still too often being used in advertising to promote completely unrelated products - not cosmetics or soap, but car tires and machines.
Furniture and car shows in Taiwan unfailingly feature "la mei" or "hot sisters," skimpily-clad young women who dance and prance, attracting more attention from a simple male public than the products they are destined to promote. Another similar phenomenon is that of the "betelnut babes," bikini-clad women in glass boxes selling betelnuts to passing truck and taxi drivers.
There is also the despicable practice in Japan and Taiwan of sick males using miniature cameras to film under women's skirts on public transport and at exhibitions.

In other words, there are strong currents in East Asia that work against the development of naturism and social nudity. However, if I were a real pessimist, I wouldn't have started this weblog. In future episodes, I promise you I will cast a more positive prospective for naturism in Asia. Yes, there are signs of hope in the Year of the Monkey.
In the meantime, keep away the cold, spring is not far behind!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The weblog to promote naturism in Asia
Taipei, Taiwan
January 21, 2004

The sun is shining. You feel like taking your clothes off. All of them. And swim, walk, sunbathe, play tennis or volleyball. In the nude. Too farfetched? No. Millions of Germans, French, Americans, and other Westerners already enjoy the naturist lifestyle. Men and women. Young and old. Christians and areligious people.
Because nudity is not evil. Nudity does not equal sex or loose morals. Nudity is the natural state of man and woman.
So why can’t Asians enjoy nudity? Because political and religious conservatism bars them from doing so. At least in the open. In their own countries. But as Asia has become one of the most open and prosperous parts of the world, attitudes are changing.
So naturism in Asia is not an impossible dream. More and more Asian who have visited, lived in, and studied in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have opened their minds to naturism. They paid their first visit to naturist holiday resorts or free beaches overseas, sometimes in the company of foreign friends. Let’s hope their governments will follow suit, and not just open their minds.

What is naturism?
Naturism is social nudity. Being naked with other people. Sunbathing, swimming, enjoying sports together. Naturism is about respect and equality. When nobody wears clothes, there is more mutual respect, and all people feel equal.

What is naturism not?
Naturism is not exhibitionism. Naturism is not being naked in an environment which is not fit for being naked. Clothes are there for protection, against the cold. So naturists would wear clothes when the weather gets too cold. Naturists are not crazy.
Naturism is not about provocation. Naturists only go naked in a naturist environment. Only when they know nobody will object. Not in public, or in an environment where it is obvious there will be protest against nudity from others.
Naturism is not pornography. Sex is something private, always. Naturists work hard to break the link between nudity and sex. We have been raised to believe that humans should only be naked at birth, when taking a bath, or when having sex.
So nudity has been misused by those only interested in sex and pornography. That’s why many – but not all - naturist clubs and resorts in the West have rules barring single men, and why naturists are sensitive about others taking pictures.

This blog wants to promote naturism in Asia through words. So if you are not really interested in naturism and social nudity, but you are looking for pictures of naked people, this is the wrong place to come.
But if you have an open mind, you are welcome to learn and enjoy.

This blog will also attempt, despite limited resources, to give news about naturism in Asia, to comment developments in naturism, and to introduce the concept and practice of naturism to Asian web surfers.

With the entirely selfish hope, that once, in the not-too-distant future, I myself will be able to spend my holidays and weekends here in Asia at a nearby naturist resort, swimming, sunbathing, participating in sports, or just hiking, in the nude, as a real naturist.