Tag Archives: ramadan

Like Jane Austen But Not: The Single Gal’s Guide to Travelling Asia

19 Oct Z and me in Georgian silhouette, Penang, Malaysia,

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1: Avoid Spaghetti Straps
Shoulders are an erogenous zone in many cultures. Particularly shy ones. In South-East Asia, nothing, and I do mean nothing, says “hooker” more than spaghetti straps. OK. Maybe fishnets, Perspex platforms and a basque. And if you packed those, lady, make like the real fetishists and change before you leave the disco. Mm?

2: Hold the Back Bars of a Motorbike, not the Driver
In most cultures, pressing your breasts against a chap you’ve never met is a recipe for mutual discomfort. Continue reading

Because Children Know No Cultural Divide

30 Sep Flowering log extends over gold sand beach with coloured boats drawn up to shore.

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It never ceases to amaze me how children’s friendships cross cultural boundaries so effortlessly. We spent the Idul Fitri holiday in the Togian Islands, off Sulawesi, Indonesia, at a little guesthouse on an idyllic beach.

Amal, the son of the family, is thirteen years old. He was born at home, no midwife in attendance. Continue reading

Ramadan in Tarakan

21 Aug Brightly coloured stripey cakes for sale in Borneo.

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Like This!

Bobby’s minivan has a melodic horn, which intones a three note melody. “It is the only one in Tarakan,” he explains, tootling merrily at a cluster of folk on scooters, every one of them revving for a U-turn on the choked main road.

“In fact,” he says, gesturing expansively at the rusty interior of what, to the untutored eye, looks quite the reverse of a pimped ride, though the seats, to give them their due, have nary a hole. “I am the only one with these customisations to my vehicle. And the only one with this horn.”

“Ah,” I say politely.

“Can you toot the horn again?” asks Z.

He toodles. The chaps on the building site we are passing down tools and wave. The scooters continue to bip-bip, the minivans change lanes at random. Like all the other drivers hooting merrily away, it’s just Bobby’s way of saying hello.

And, imperceptibly to the naked eye, the sun sets, bringing the Ramadan fasting to a close. Continue reading