Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lin Xilei and Matthew Fox

If you don't live in Asia, you've probably never heard of Lin Xilei - or Lin Hsi-lei, as you might spell it here in Taiwan. Miss Lin is a famous local entertainer and actress, and if you regularly read my sparse contributions to this blog, maybe you remember she once told a magazine that she would love to visit a naturist resort.
Well, Miss Lin is back again with another wish. In an interview with the international Chinese edition of Esquire Magazine, Lin says her wildest dream is to run naked in front of Taipei's Presidential Office Building. She says she wants to do it to make headlines, but since she's already famous - and considering the previous article - I think Miss Lin is either already a naturist but doesn't want to acknowledge it, or has a deep desire to become one. I wish her every success with her aspirations. Even more, if she really ever decides to run naked in front of the Presidential Office, I want to be there with her, to show there's nothing wrong with human nudity. Considering current attitudes in Taiwan though, I'm sure she would receive a fine, and I, being a foreign national, would be expelled from this island never to be allowed back.
And who's Matthew Fox, I hear you ask, and what is his connection with Lin Hsi-lei? Well, he's an actor in one of America's most popular TV series of the moment, "Lost," a mysterious tale about people stranded on a remote island. According to the web site, Mr. Fox likes to go swimming naked inbetween the shooting of the show on a Hawaiian beach. In the beginning, he was the only member of the cast to do so, but according to the report, he's managed to convert most others. The man should receive an award for promoting naturism, and Miss Lin should follow his example. Stop dreaming, start living naturism.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Taiwan: between Croatia and Spain

It's been 30-plus degrees in Taiwan as it is every summer and most of the year, but still I can't call it a naturist summer. First of all, there have been too many typhoons, and at the wrong time. Usually, most of them fall in August, September, and even October. But this year, the first big one came in mid-July, the second one about a week later, and the third another week further. All three of them more or less picked weekends, throwing holiday plans literally into the water. A beachside rock festival on Taiwan's already wet north coast was postponed several times, only to meet the next typhoon.
But back to naturism. Typhoons mean not only bad weather, but downright disastrous weather. The beach and the mountains, the two only places where Taiwanese naturists would find privacy and space to practice naturism, are off limits and far too dangerous during typhoons. So all the naturism I've been practicing is at home. Sleeping naked with an electric fan pointing at me. It's too hot here to be wearing any clothes anyway, but because of the location of my apartment it's not really hot enough to switch on the airconditioning. There is a cooling wind that blows through the apartment, and that's just perfect for a foreign naturist like me. I just have to avoid the center and certain corners of our rooms to prevent neighbors from seeing me, and I can live like a naturist.
And you probably wonder about the title: how come Taiwan lies between two European Mediterranean countries? That's simple: I'm not talking about geography, but about the world conventions of the International Naturist Federation. Precisely one year ago, in August 2004, I attended the congress in Valalta, a naturist resort near the picturesque town of Rovinj, on Croatia's Istrian peninsula. The next INF congress will take place about a year from now, at Costa Natura, a resort near the southern tip of Spain.
At Valalta, being my first congress, I had quite a lot to report about the situation of naturism in Taiwan in particular and in Asia at large, but in Spain I'll find it more difficult to give a positive evaluation. Yes, there has been a local politician in the Penghu Islands between Taiwan and China who has suggested naturism as a way to promote local tourism, yes, there has been more press about international naturist events in the local media, but that's about it. Naturism itself, I'm sure, has won more followers inside Taiwan, but the legalization, or changes in the law needed, are not here yet. Taiwanese naturists will for the time being have to continue to meet at private homes, or hike in remote mountain areas and beaches on the desolate east coast. One veteran of Taiwanese naturism has moved overseas to a country where he will find real naturist resorts, but his group on the island has turned more into a gay dating group, and that is a problem that hits several naturist groups here. There are not enough women taking part, the group becomes more and more dominated by men, and gay men attract their friends to join, driving away heterosexual naturists who want to keep the groups really naturist, and thus non-sexual. Even though naturists have nothing against gays, we also want to keep the sexual element out of naturism, and that's where we still find too many problems in a not-so-naturist-aware society like Taiwan.