Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jane, Serena, Eva and the Others

Jane is the name of an American women's magazine I've never seen or heard of until recently, and I don't even know if it's available in Taiwan or other Asian countries.
The magazine did get a full load of positive coverage on naturist web sites though, mainly due to one thing: a recent issue invited loads of female celebrities to pose naked.
The list includes Latina Hollywood star Eva Mendes - who acted in movies with Will Smith, Nicolas Cage and Matt Damon - tennis champion Serena Williams, and British singer Joss Stone.
The article included pictures, of course, but also interviews, with the stars telling how natural nudity felt, and how satisfied they were with their bodies. That's nice to hear from women who do not belong to the emaciated model-type 'ideal' that often seems to dog celebrities.
Naturism is all about accepting one's own looks, one's own body, and definitely not about showing off one's body as more beautiful than others. That's why naturists like me often find it grating to hear comments that you won't find beautiful people on nude beaches. What you find in naturist areas, are normal people, big, tall, small, wide and narrow. And guess what? They all think it's alright to be naked because naturism is about feeling good in one's own skin. That's enough to be a naturist, you don't have to be a supermodel!
The Jane magazine issue is really a continuation of a recent positive habit in the international media to highlight the female body as acceptable in any shape, size and age. Remember the 'Dove' calendar campaign in Belgium I mentioned earlier. I just wished the same idea would fly across the continents and oceans and reach so-called 'conservative' Asia. I'm sure it would find a positive reception with Asian women as well.
And before I forget: the Jane article is easier to find at my colleagues from http://terracottainn.blogspot.com than at the magazine's site, www.janemag.com.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Groede. Groo-dah, if you have to spell its pronounciation more or less in English. It's a tiny town in the far southwestern corner of the Netherlands, close to the Belgian border.
And that's precisely what made it attractive for dozens of Belgians, whose cars crowded the road nearby on sunny weekends and summer days.
Groede used to have the only official naturist beach on a stretch of about 100 kilometers from France, Belgium, to the Dutch province of Zeeland. That changed recently when the Belgian coastal town of Bredene reserved a stretch of beach for naturists, but many Belgians still prefer to stay with the familiar, and travel all the way up to Groede, usually by car, because there is no suitable public transportation in the area.
I'm still one of those faithful visitors. Come to think of it, it's just a beach. Two stretches of sand, which grow to larger proportions when the tide is low. It's not a naturist resort, because it doesn't have any restaurants or shops within the naturist area. It's just a beach, without special facilities. But at least it's an official beach, which means naturism is legal, so you can relax. The Dutch word 'naaktstrand' on the sign on the right means nude beach. The only people with clothes on - 'textiles,' in our naturist language - you will see, are passersby walking along the beach.
Each time I went back to the home country, I found some time to spend on this beach. It involves a one-hour drive in both directions, but it's well worth the ride, because of the beach's clean and wholesome nature. You can spend all day just lying or sitting in the sun, reading a paper or a book, like I often do, or you can walk along the water to cool off - though you have to wear at least a swimsuit if you want to leave the official naturist area - or even swim if you're careful.
During my last trip to Europe last month, when I took these pictures, there was barely any good weather, so I only got to spend an hour and a half in Groede. Still, it was one of the best afternoons of my stay.
You might wonder about the popularity of the beach since you hardly see anyone on those pictures. There are two reasons for that. First, I went there on a Wednesday afternoon in June. In other words, an average working day in the middle of the week, before the start of the summer vacation. Believe me, on sunny weekends and in July and August, the beach still gets crowded, especially during high tide. If you arrive during the afternoon, you'll have problems finding a space for your car along that road, and for your towels and yourself on the beach.
The second reason why you don't see many people in these pictures is a matter of etiquette. For those of you new to naturism, it's a basic rule of politeness that you don't take pictures of people who don't want to be in your pictures, and certainly don't want to appear on the Internet. So, when in a naturist area, always make sure you only have your own family and friends in the picture - if they don't object - and ask any others, if they need to be in view. With today's digital cameras, that's easier than ever. You can immediately show your picture to people who might suspect or complain you've included them.
Anyway, most of the people at Groede are very nice. As I said, there are lots of Belgians, but also local Dutch and Germans. Many of them spend their entire holiday in the non-naturist holiday camps and hotels built just behind the Dutch coast. The naturist crowd at Groede include people of all ages, mostly couples, often with children. In my eyes, they are an ideal crowd, friendly, mixed, honest and respectful of fellow beachgoers. The people are one of the reasons I will keep going to Groede, whatever the distance.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Favorite Naturist Place (2)

Now that the temperatures in Taiwan are climbing toward 37 degrees centigrade, I can only dream of having this kind of beach right here on my doorstep. I'm restricted to home naturism here in Asia, but back in Europe I used to have that beach.
Of course, nothing is perfect. While I had the beach, I didn't have the Asian temperatures. During my stay in Europe last month, there were hardly any days when it was warm enough - don't ever use the word 'hot' for that place - to spend a full day on the beach.
Nevertheless, there it is. Two full stretches of naturist beach, looking huge at low tide. It's just a beach, so there is no naturist restaurant nor shops, even though you get food and drink from a nearby snackbar. Clothing required, though. The full story about this beach, and another picture, in my next posting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Favorite Naturist Place

My favorite naturist place lies just to the left of this scene. Where is it? If you've been reading other recent posts, you already know where it is. If not, the mystery is to be revealed within the next week.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Home Naturism

The weather is gorgeous, the temperature is 35 centigrade, there's a river outside. In other words, the perfect environment for naturism. But for one minor detail: naturism is illegal in this country - Taiwan - so I'm risking imprisonment, a fine, and maybe even deportation if all I want to do is enjoy the summer of 2007.
The solution for many people in a similar predicament all around the world is home naturism.
If you're lucky, you have a garden. If you're even luckier, the garden lies behind your house and doesn't have any windows from neighboring houses looking into it. If you have nosy neighbors, or if they object to your naturist habits, then you can change things by putting up screens. Maybe that restricts the area you can move around in naked, but at least it's an improvement. One I wished I could make.
I don't have a garden, so my version of home naturism is very much the 'inside these walls' variety. I have all the windows open to escape the heat, but inside I move around between bedroom, kitchen, sitting room - where I eat, read books, watch TV - and desk - where I am using my computer right now - all in the nude. Maybe some neighbor somewhere in a building next to mine will see something, even though most of the time I think I'm pretty well out of view. My wife is not so certain though, and she advises me to put up curtains around the house. So far, I don't think it's necessary, but who knows, if I appear inside one of Taiwan's tabloid magazines or newspapers ...
Nude foreigners in Taiwan have been a popular topic for the press here. I remember one couple staying at the luxurious Westin Hotel in Taipei who appeared totally naked and not ashamed of it in front of their window to watch a fire in the street below. It was only because of the fire that reporters and photographers streamed to that location, and some of them happened to look up, notice the couple, and the rest was history, on the frontpage of the evening paper anyway.
Then there was the foreigner who went out completely naked to buy his groceries in the market. Some reports said he was a Russian staying at a hotel nearby, others claimed he was drunk and had forgotten his clothes.
I don't want to be the next nude foreigner caught by the paparazzi, but I sure would like to be the first foreigner visiting a legal naturist beach or resort in Taiwan, or anywhere else in East Asia, for that matter.
Until then, home naturism will be the way to go.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Salon CO2 - A Business Idea

Running a naturist resort is one of those dreams most naturists have. It's like the equivalent of running a bed and breakfast, or an ice cream parlor, or a restaurant. Or writing a book. Reading about that British couple investing in a naturist hotel on a Greek island - I mentioned that in one of my previous postings here - again started a spot of daydreaming for me.
Back home in Europe, I looked at my folks' home, and saw a potential for a naturist bed and breakfast.
In favor: a large garden, excellent for warm days, and remember, it remains light and warm in Europe until after 9 p.m., so there's a lot of nice time to enjoy every day. Another plus: there are lots of plants and trees all around, so they form a natural cover against the prying eyes of neighbors and their visitors. The garden lies at the back, so none of the many passersby in the busy town center could see anything. Indeed, unless I advertise, nobody would ever know I'd had a naturist operation going there.
But there are also elements working against opening a naturist resort at my old folks' home: the house was built about 80 years ago, so its technical side needs a bit of modernizing. There is only one bathroom with toilet inside the building, definitely not enough for hosts and guests to share. The garden is dry, so I would have to install some kind of swimming pool. Lots of structures in the garden, which could serve as rooms for rent, need a complete overhaul, and I haven't got the funds for those. Another minus is the location: a small town at least 15 kilometers away from the nearest sights. If you haven't got a car and are willing to make a daily half-an-hour trip to a naturist beach - Belgium's only official nude beach - then you'll find it hard to come over to my place.
Last but not least, I can't really call it 'my place' like I just did, because it's my family's. And none of them would be sympathetic to the idea of a naturist resort, let alone one right in their home.
So I'm afraid it's going to have to remain a dream, even though one of my happiest ones. I even made up a name for my home naturist bed and breakfast: the Salon CO2, Salon because it's a house with many grand old rooms or salons, and CO for Clothing Optional.