Amuse feed for https://amuse.vice.comenWed, 21 Nov 2018 13:30:00 +0000<![CDATA[Sex in Our Strange World | The Island That Wouldn't Get Naked, Even in Bed]]>, 21 Nov 2018 13:30:00 +0000 In this column, Sex in Our Strange World, sex historian Dr. Kate Lister, of Leeds Trinity University, explores the ways in which people from around the globe approach love, sex, and marriage.

The poet Philip Larkin once wrote,

‘Sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three/ (Which was rather late for me)/ between the end of the Chatterley ban/ and the Beatles’ first LP’

The sexual revolution may have taken its time, wading up the Humber Estuary to the banks of Hull, Larkin’s hometown, but at least it got there in the end. At about the same as the Hullians were taking their first tentative steps with sexual experimentation and beehive hairdos, cultural anthropologists John C. & Betty Messenger were researching the people living on the remote Aran Island of Inisheer, the most Easterly of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

"In the entire eight years the Messengers lived on the island, they did not hear one rude pun, cheeky song, bawdy limerick, or smutty innuendo"

The husband and wife team lived on the island, conducting ethnographic research between 1958 and 1966, and their findings revealed that not only had the sexual revolution not made it to the shores of Inisheer by 1963, it had not even bothered to call ahead to see if it could make reservations.

Modern-day Inisheer - still as craggy as ever. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the reasons Inisheer experienced far less cultural changes to the rest of Ireland was its lack of a quay and resulting inaccessibility from the mainland. Those wishing to visit the island were forced to anchor off the coast and be met with canoes to take them ashore. But, none of this could last. Once ferry links, and television, and media from the mainland were in place, the sexual revolution finally landed in Inisheer.

Today, Inisheer is as beautiful and rugged as it has always been, but it is absolutely a modern place, and one that strives to preserve its heritage, traditions, and local customs. It is a place where you can soak up traditional Irish music, fine fare and food, while enjoying the craic, and raising a glass and a wry smile to the memory of a world gone by. I’m reliably informed that the locals will now even let visitors shower without their clothes on. Vive la Révolution, or as they say in Irish, fada an réabhlóid beo.

Dr Kate Lister is a sex historian, author and lecturer at Leeds Trinity University. She also runs the blog Whores of Yore. Keep up with her on Twitter.

ev3vxwDr. Kate ListerKieran MorrisSexIrelandAntidotesex in our strange world
<![CDATA[Blue Zones | The Places on Earth Where People Live Far, Far Longer]]>, 21 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0000If there were a place in real life where the fountain of youth flowed, where the sun always shone, and the elderly moved with all the grace and the speed of the young, what would you expect it to look like? Where would you expect it to be?

The Spanish went to find it in Bimini; Herodotus thought the Macrobians had it, and the Bible hints at the miraculous powers of the Pool of Bethesda. There are, in fact, a handful of areas dotted around the world, called ‘Blue Zones’, where people seem to live incredibly long lives and remain in astoundingly good health, even into their hundreds - so what’s in the water there?

It’s not uncommon at all to see groups of octo or nonagenarians out for long, boozy lunches in these parts of the world

The term ‘blue zone’ was coined by Dan Buettner, an author and National Geographic fellow. While there’s some debate about where does and doesn’t classify (not unlike the debate about whether Pluto is a planet), the blue zones are largely considered to be Loma Linda, California, the Okinawa islands of Japan, Sardinia, Icaria - which is off the Grecian coast - and the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.

Agios Kirykos, the main city on the isle of Icaria. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

We could all do with taking note of some of the core tenets of a Blue Zones life. Some aspects are yes, blindingly obvious, like daily exercise, abstaining from smoking and having alcohol in moderation. But given the huge variation in diet across the board, perhaps the takeaways for us are more in lifestyle; eating with friends or family, and not alone, being a part of a club or community, avoiding stress and prioritising sleep and rest.

“Don’t go to a supermarket; buy local produce and go with what’s in season,” advised Professor Spector. “Try new things, maybe one new food a week. Eat fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, or an unpasteurised goat’s cheese. Diversity is key - people in these countries don’t go to a supermarket and do a big two week shop of processed long-life foods. It really all is about variety.”

The blue zones, with their laid-lack lifestyles, diets rich in local, seasonal produce, and close-knit family units, are as romantic as they are foreign to most of city-dwellers in the UK. It’s foolish to try and transpose these habits literally - an early night and a plate of Fresh Direct is unlikely to add ten years onto your life - but maybe we can use them as a call to arms to at least live a little slower.

Daniela Morosini is a freelance journalist, based in London. Keep up with her on Twitter.

9k4axyDaniela MorosiniKieran MorrisjapanusaCaliforniaitalyGreeceCosta RicaAntidote
<![CDATA[Turning Green | 'Dead Fish Can Power Our Fleet' Says Norwegian Cruise Line]]>, 20 Nov 2018 16:23:47 +0000 Scandinavia’s love of fermenting seafood is well-documented, but now one Norwegian cruise line has taken it a stage further, announcing plans to use dead fish to power their fleet.

Hurtigruten, which specialises in expedition cruises to the Arctic and other polar destinations, is converting diesel-powered ships so they can run on a more environmentally-friendly combination of biogas (produced from decaying organic matter, like rotting fish) and batteries.

“By 2021 we will have retrofitted at least six ships [from a fleet of 17],” said Rune Thomas Ege, Hurtigruten’s VP of communications. “In addition, we are building the world's first hybrid-powered cruise ships. We'll have at least three of those by 2021 so that means more than half our fleet will be powered by battery packs combined with LNG (liquid natural gas), or biogas.”

Taking a long view: Hurtigruten have been in business for 125 years - here a group of guests pose in front of an unknown glacier in Norway. Photo: Courtesy of Hurtigruten

In any case, even if it costs more in the short term, Daniel Skjeldam and his team have their eyes fixed on the longer term future. “We hope our investments in green technology and innovation sets a new standard for the whole industry to follow,” he says. After all, the environment that they depend on for their business depends on it. As Ege puts it: “It's really important for us to show our guests of tomorrow the same experiences as our guests of today.”

And if that involves loading a few tons of noxious-smelling, dead fish gas on-board every time they leave port? Well, so be it.

kzvbmwTristan KennedyTristan KennedyenvironmentNorwayARCTICadventure
<![CDATA[Breaking New Ground | World’s First Quarry Hotel Opens in Shanghai]]>, 20 Nov 2018 14:28:26 +0000Shanghai is a city of soaring ambition. It seems every day a story hits the press covering the unveiling of some new monumentally outlandish skyscraper.

But the newly opened Shimao Quarry Hotel is a different beast all together. The first of a new breed of ‘groundscrapers’ - the 18-storey luxury hotel extends deep into the earth, filling a vast disused quarry. By stooping low rather then high, it is almost a mirror image of the lofty towers around.

The one thing that strikes you when you go to Shanghai is the sheer towering ambition of China as a nation”

Built at an eye-watering figure of £225mn, the 336-room resort took over 12 years to complete, with a team of over five thousand on the build full-time. British architect Martin Jochman led the project, explaining: "This was a totally unique idea, to really do something special with a site that was forgotten and nobody knew what to do with, and to give it new life".

The 'quarry hotel' at night. Courtesy of InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

With most rooms embedded deep below the earth, you’d be forgiven for feeling claustrophobic at the mere thought of a stay. But the love of tiny, enclosed spaces is an increasing phenomenon across the world. Bubble houses and pod hotels, for instance, are spreading quickly outside of their native Japan.

The ‘tiny house movement’ is growing stratospherically - with a reported ten million unique users visiting To some, the claustrophiles, this animal urge for cosily enclosed spaces, goes as far as being a fetish.

The Shimao Quarry Hotel is an example of a largely untested idea, and its appeal may not endure beyond novelty. But, across the world, the future of the ‘groundscraper’ is looking up.

7xy8a4Clem Fiell Clem Fiell chinaarchitectureShanghaiagendahotel
<![CDATA[Enough is Enough | Island Issues On-the-Spot Fines to Tourists Using Plastic]]>, 20 Nov 2018 14:27:24 +0000After going viral for the quantity of plastic waste in their lagoons, the municipality of El Nido, on the stunning Filipino island of Palawan, has launched a fightback. They have completely banned single-use plastics, and are banishing package tours for good in an effort to push back against the negative effects of overtourism.

From this Friday onwards, large groups of tourists will be prevented from visiting the island. Those that are allowed through will be warned that the use, and even the possession, of single-use plastics on the island is prohibited.

In addition to this, El Nido’s local government have announced an additional increase in the charges required to visit both their small and big lagoons, in a further effort to dissuade tourists from visiting, or at the very least, to help mitigate the cost of their environmental damage.

Significant quantities of plastic waste are washing up on the shores of El Nido. Photo via Unsplash

Officials in El Nido specifically are fearful of drifting into the state that Boracay - another incredibly popular island in the central Philippines - found itself in as a result of pollution. Earlier this year, the Filipino government closed Borcary entirely for six months, on account of the decades of environmental damage caused by the island’s reputation as a party destination.

Boracay only re-opened at the end of October, and has now been cleared of all the casinos and nightclubs that made it such an attraction.

El Nido’s mayor, Nieves Cabunalda Rosento, has not shied away from making examples of tourists flaunting her anti-plastic rules. Local reports suggest Cabunalda Rosento has been issuing on-the-spot fines of 10,000 Filipino Pisos (£148.38) to market vendors, tourist guides, and anyone caught with single-use plastics upon their person.

Trumpeting the "Five Rs of El Nido: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Report", has apparently sought to make clear that she is personally leading the charge against plastic waste.

Heidi Savelli-Soderberg, a Programme Officer for Marine Litter at the UN, is encouraged by these measures in the short-term. However, she does not see banning single-use plastic as a panacea. “Banning various types of unnecessary single-use plastic items can be an important first step in the fight against plastic pollution,” she said.

“But to solve the problem of plastic pollution in the long-term… we need to completely change the way we think. We need to stop treating plastic as something we can just throw away, and start treating it as a material that has actual value.”

El Nido will, of course, also need to balance their efforts to preserve and restore Palawan’s natural beauty with their reliance on tourism as a major source of employment. Savelli-Soderberg recognises this when talking about solutions. She argues that it’s “important to do this in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, and give industries - including tourism, upon which many coastal regions rely - time to adapt.”

But of course, tourists will not continue coming to a tropical paradise if it is strewn with plastic waste, the water is tainted and the beaches are ruined. So while El Nido's moves might seem drastic, they may also provide the key to the island's survival.

vbavkbAmuse TeamKieran MorrisenvironmentPhilippinesagenda
<![CDATA[Sarajevo Spartans | American Football Fever is Taking Over Bosnia]]>, 19 Nov 2018 11:44:11 +0000“Things that worked well against us in Zagreb...” Matt Carver starts to list his side's faults to the rag-tag group he’s managed to accumulate for practice. The burly Tennessee native, donning the wraparound sunglasses that seem mandatory for American sports coaches, bellows to the tiny crowd of Bosnian boys a series of mistakes in their last game: a miserable defeat 30 to 6 against the Zagreb Patriots.

Earlier on, Carver and two of the Sarajevo Spartans’ few veteran players (‘veteran’ meaning mid-to-late 20s) sat in a cafe nearby the practice field, and looked over film from the last game on a dodgy Windows laptop. Through the camcorder lens off at the sidelines, Balkan boys clash against each other in the slow attrition of yardage known outside of America as American Football.

"We have a couple players hurt, we have a player getting married, we have kids on a field trip... so I have no idea how many people are going to show up"

The Spartans have been around since 2011 - a testament to the growing popularity of the game through Europe. Though, saying that, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have the kind of leagues boasted by the likes of Germany and the UK, and it still looks longingly at the much better established leagues in neighbouring Croatia and Serbia.

The Spartans quarterback looking to throw amongst the chaos. Photo: James Tennent

Arms held up together in the centre of a circle, the boys chant “Spartans!” and disperse as the practice ends. Rookies and veterans alike, they’re nervous for the next game. Who knows if they’ll even have enough players.

On Saturday, 20th October, a week after their ramshackle practice, the Spartans return to Sarajevo victorious. They’d beaten the Bjelovar Greenhorns 20 - 0.

James Tennent is a freelance journalist, based in Marrakech. Keep up with him on Twitter.

qvqbz5James TennentKieran Morrisamerican footballagendaSarajevobosnia
<![CDATA[Sometimes Overwhelming | Travel Back to Louche, Lawless 70s New York ]]>, 19 Nov 2018 11:12:36 +0000 Native New Yorker Arlene Gottfried photographed the city in black-and-white throughout the 70s and 80s. She documented a city that was exhibitionist-friendly, feral, expressive, a metropolis replete with larger-than-life personalities. Her work is diverse, in every sense: the array of neighbourhoods, ethnicities, ages, proclivities.

Angel and Woman on Brighton Beach, 1976. Photograph: Arlene Gottfried

Gottfried's day job was as a photographer for an advertising agency, but her personal portfolio was "all after-hours: weekends, evenings," she says. The images span Rockaway Beach, the Brazilian Carnival at the Waldorf ("that was a great dance party"), Times Square, Roseland Ballroom (when it was actually a ballroom), disco parties ("wild, all in fun"), the Halloween Parade, Harlem, block parties on the Lower East Side, the Big Apple circus ("the early days—when it was in one tent on a landfill in Battery Park").

Her exhibition Sometimes Overwhelming was on view at Les Douches La Galerie in Paris. Sporting her own unique look (a velvet turban with a white feather and a sequined jacket), she discusses her favourite corners of New York, her reticence towards digital, and how laid-back people used to be about being snapped in their birthday suits.

Read more on i-D...

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<![CDATA[Blood Stains to Champagne | Vietnam’s 'Torture Island' is Now a Luxury Escape]]>, 16 Nov 2018 16:40:16 +0000On the evening of October 29, in Emerald Bay in the southeast of Vietnamese island Phu Quoc, the influencers were out in force. So were fashion designer Kelbin Lei’s buttocks – shortly after checking into the JW Marriott hotel he posted a sultry shot of him in his hotel room bath with his arse out to his 235,000 Instagram followers.

A few hours later, actress Diễm My (630,000 followers) hit the dancefloor at the hotel’s Pink Pearl restaurant: a decadent, cake-pink fine dining venue that is the latest opening by celebrated hotel designer Bill Bensley. Selfie sticks bobbed in time to music from an enjoyably raucous live jazz band, as stuffed peacocks surveyed the scene from the balcony.

"Entering from Cambodia by boat is not permitted, despite the island being clearly visible from the coast. “We can see it, but if we tried to go there by boat we’d get shot,” a resident once told me"

Photos of cocktail dresses, enormously luxurious upholstery and very very beautiful people flooded the hotel’s Instagram location tag feed. Next to a large statue of an owl standing on a wooden box with fake bird muck painted onto it, I asked a friendly construction company CEO in his 20s what brought him to the launch party. Turned out he was dating Dacey Huynh, runner up of Miss Vietnam 2016 (21,000 followers).

Great Gatsby night at the Marriott Hotel. Photo: @dacy_huynh / Instagram

Such Gatsby-glam scenes would have been unthinkable on the island until recently. Long-term residents told me that ten years ago, hardly any tourists came to Phu Quoc: located off the south-western coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, and at 574 square kilometres, the country’s largest island. Roads were bumpy red dust runs before being tarmacked over in the last decade, and the island’s international airport didn’t open until 2012 – two years before authorities allowed foreign tourists to visit the island for 30 days, visa free.

These measures were part of the government’s attempts to brand Phu Quoc as a luxury destination, and high-end resorts such as the JW Marriott and the InterContinental duly followed. Many more are under construction on the south of the island. Attracted by this buzz, and photos of the island’s pretty beaches, this year many media outlets tipped Phu Quoc as one of southeast Asia’s next ‘big’ travel hotspots.

Arial view of Pineapple Island, where the Phu Quoc cable car line stops. Photo: Jamie Fullerton

Rare, genuine places of culture in Phu Quoc, such as the gallery, will feel even more unique as the forthcoming resorts in the south – some so large they resemble small towns – continue to sprout. “We’ve seen many new businesses rising up like mushrooms, but nothing relating to culture,” said Hied when I asked why he opened the gallery.

Spaces such as Hied's will be essential to the island, if they are to resist having their future remodelled by swarms of well-to-do influencers and new money. Things have changed a lot in Phu Quoc since the days of the Southeast Asian Alcatraz, and they’re changing once again, perhaps too quickly to be caught - is this island paradise about to be lost once again?

Jamie Fullerton stayed as a guest of the Phu Quoc JW Marriott hotel .

nepnxkJamie FullertonKieran MorrisArthotelsVietnamadventure
<![CDATA[Long Live the King | Exploring Hawaii with Honolulu’s Only Elvis Impersonator]]>, 16 Nov 2018 14:20:28 +0000According to those that knew him, at the height of his fame, Elvis Presley’s favourite place to be on the planet was O’ahu, Hawaii. Four hours from Japan and yet a bonafide American state, there are obvious reasons why Elvis - or any other US citizen for that matter - would enjoy Hawaii.

Tropical as Professor Tanaka’s underpants, yet with enough ‘Murican customs to satisfy even Dog The Bounty Hunter, The Tupelo Tornado would have had ample access to traditional Luau ceremonies, as well as those quarter-pounders he’d become so fond of.

Yet Elvis’ love for Hawaii runs much deeper than consumables. The real reason for his affection resonates with just about anybody who’s set foot in the archipelago. I went there to find out why the King of Rock and Roll liked it so much, and to meet an Elvis impersonator who claims to be the only one on the Island. (If anyone is going to know about the exploits of Ol’ Fire Eyes in the Pacific, it’s probably this guy).

Fortuno striking a pose before hitting the stage for Rock-A-Hula. Photo: Jonathan Turton

It’s been suggested that the people of Hawaii reminded Elvis of his own people in the South of the US. Although there are also stark differences, I can see how people draw parallels between the Southern Hospitality in towns like Memphis, and the Aloha Spirit.

Rumour has it that that Presley eventually planned to move to O’ahu, once his career was over. It never happened, but Elvis’ presence will forever be felt in Hawaii, not only through Johnny Fortuno's efforts, but through the places he frequented and of course the eternal mind-scape of everyone that ever listened to his music.

Jonathan Turton is a Liverpool-born freelance journalist, based in New York City. Keep up with him on Twitter.

nepnywJonathan TurtonKieran MorrisusahawaiiagendaHonolulu
<![CDATA[Kabul Calling | This is Afghanistan, But Not as You Know It]]>, 15 Nov 2018 17:11:59 +0000“It hurt, seeing the tears on the face of the American lady in New Delhi Airport,” says Habib Daftani. He’d struck up a conversation with the passenger sitting next to him, as you do. When she’d asked where he was travelling to he said, “home, to Kabul.” Her shocked reaction - as if a nice young man like him couldn’t possibly have come from a country she obviously thought of as a war-torn hellhole - upset him.

"There is more to Afghanistan than what you see on the news"

When he got home, perfectly safely, Habib decided to do something about it, setting up the Instagram page @Afghanistan_You_Never_See with the aim of promoting the country in a more positive light. The account, on which Habib posts a mixture of his own photos and shots that others send him, has grown rapidly and now boasts nearly 30,000 followers.

Landscape in Shighnan, Badakhsan Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

Think Kabul, and jittery footage of journalists running between bombed out buildings may come to mind. Habib’s mission is to change this, as he lifts the veil on the real Afghanistan. Instead, he presents an unexpected world of jet skis cutting through calm lakes, smiling kids in classrooms, or blue-shirted Pashtuns dancing in the mountains of Khost Province.

As well as the photos he offers his followers current travel advice, informed by the security situation in Kabul, and his local knowledge. The overwhelming message is this: Set aside your preconceptions, there is more to Afghanistan than what you see on the news.

Female students walking among autumn colours at Kabul University. Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

Outside perceptions of the country weren’t always this way of course. There was a time when Kabul was a key stop on the hippy trail through Asia. In Across Asia on The Cheap (1973), the very first Lonely Planet guide, authors Tony and Maureen Wheeler recommend taking a “magic bus” direct from Lahore to Kabul - to find one, all travellers had to do was keep an eye on the notices scrawled on the walls of the popular, backpacker cafés, known as “freak hangouts”.

In fact if anything, the worry at the time was that Afghanistan was becoming too crowded, and the indigenous culture too diluted by the influx of westerners. But as the Soviets began their decade-long war in Afghanistan in 1979, it was no longer safe for hippies and travellers, and so they stopped coming to Kabul. Conflict would continue to blight the country after the Soviets withdrew, and then in 2001, NATO invaded Afghanistan. Western troops have been fighting there ever since. Most recently, in October this year, a suicide bomber attacked Kabul’s election commission headquarters.

Afghan children. Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

All this however, is far from the only story in town, according to Habib. “The media air only bloodshed, insurgents, corruption, and poverty,” he says. “The mission of my Instagram page is to change the world’s misconceptions about Afghanistan.”

In one photo, four figures tread a crude bridge above a river, against the backdrop of the MahiPar mountains. But these aren’t Taliban insurgents, warlords or western soldiers. “They are children on their way to Sarobi Bazaar, and the boy trailing behind is carrying boiled eggs to sell,” Habib tells me.

Markets like Kabul’s Sarobi Bazaar offer us an insight into the day-to-day lives of the city’s four million strong population, according to Habib. His Instagram feed shows us locals shopping, eating, and relaxing in their free time. “During Eid the market is full, so much so that is difficult to walk through,” he adds.

Four figures walk across a bridge. But these aren’t Taliban insurgents, warlords or western soldiers... Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

At other times of year it is still bustling, with crowds of people browsing fabrics, shoes, dried fruits, sweets, and ephemera. In place of the Taliban’s strict rules, the government now impose sensible regulations on the market. Traders must use the local currency, Afghanis; perishable food must be labelled with expiry dates; and the meat for sale must be halal. All of those might be fairly standard anywhere in the world, but there’s another regulation that reminds you where we are: No firearms are to be sold.

Habib remembers growing up in the early 90s during civil war, when children were moved to the villages because of fighting in the cities. “We would study under trees and in mosques. Now the children are able to study at schools which meet international standards,” he says. Things aren’t what they were even five years ago, and the photos on Habib’s Instagram feed show it.

A balloon seller in Kabul. Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

At another small market a man dressed in white sits crossed legged amongst piles of fried fish. A gas canister fuels the fire beneath him, and heats the skillet. Kabul’s urban dwellers come here on the weekend to eat freshly cooked fish, or to take some packed fish home for the rest of the week. A kilogram of fried fish will set you back 200 Afghani (roughly £2) and has came out the river that day. It’s the sort of thing western newspapers don’t often talk about, but this is what Afghanistan is like at ground level.

“South of Kabul, in Khost Province, I discovered a group of Pashtuns dancing in blue shirts and playing music,” says Habib. He took a video of them in the mountains, around pine trees and small fires. The men sitting on the floor play a dhol, a drum made from wood and animal skin, and an accordion-like instrument which is made locally.

Balk, Afghanistan. Photo: @Afghanistan_You_Never_See / Instagram

While these men do carry guns, “they put them away for my video and photos, and are extremely friendly people,” he says. Dancing in Afghanistan might be a bit different to a night out in Dalston or Kreuzberg but (even with guns stashed on the sidelines) it’s still dancing. And that is precisely Habib’s point - there’s more to his country than meets the average American lady’s eye.

Daryl Mersom is a freelance writer and photographer based in London

qvqb35Daryl MersomTristan KennedyAfghanistanPhotographyKabuladventurenew delhi