Fever dream

21 05 2017


“Fever Dream” is the woozily disorienting, and quietly terrifying, English language debut by Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin. A five star read.

By the canal

21 05 2017


Flowers in New York and Tokyo

21 05 2017


Above, a rogue florist is turning public rubbish bins into floral art installations in New York. Below, a pop-up womens’ bathhouse designed by photographer Mika Ninagawa to promote Tsubaki (camellia) brand shampoo – open in Tokyo’s Ariake district for the next few months only.

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21 05 2017


Tangy yuzu icecream, served in a frozen yuzu – the higlight of a meal in a faux-Hokkaido restaurant with very un-Japanese florid red wallpaper, loud piano music and a lovely waitress from Cebu, on Friday night.

A night on Le Than Thon

21 05 2017

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An article titled A nocturnal crawl through Saigon’s Japanese ghetto on the fun district of Le Thanh Ton, previously reported on the blog here.

17 05 2017


Don’t Cry for Me Indonesia

17 05 2017

Today, on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, two Sumatran men were sentenced to public whipping with a cane. Their crime? Consensual gay sex in private. The victims had been apprehended by a gang of vigilantes who broke into their private room to catch them “in the act”. Its a chilling development in an alarming trend: Indonesia’s slide into the ranks of countries ruled by religious extremism.

The judgement follows on from the appalling, racist and transparently political incarceration of Jakarta’s governor ( a double minority, being Christian and Chinese) for “blasphemy”) an offense that a) it is clear he did not commit and b) should not be illegal anyway in any modern country. The courts have sent a clear message – they will side with the loud voices of religious conservatives.

The same law has been used to persecute the Gafatar minority, whose unorthodox and syncretic blend of Islam – arguably much more representative of Indonesia’s own culture – was deemed to be sacriligious for, among other things, allowing Muslims the choice to pray rather than labelling it as compulsory.

It is a scary time. Despite Jakarta’s new modern art museum and Hooter’s outlet (!) there can be no doubt that one of Asia’s most famously tolerant societies is slipping into a religious dark age. Wake up Indonesia, before its too late!