HANOI’S NUDISTS SHARE HEALTHY ADDICTS DEFYING SOCIAL NORMS
Hanoi – Butt cheeks bared, Hanoi’s ragtag nudist club ignore the chilly weather to do their daily exercises — some swim, some jog, one performs military drills — stripping off and defying norms in the conservative communist nation.
Tucked behind banana trees on the banks of the city’s Red River, the men meet to shed their clothes, and modesty, for a cheeky dip, a game of chess, or yoga headstands in the buff — which they believe comes with health benefits. “It’s important for us to come here because we want to be healthy, we call ourselves addicts,” said Nguyen Tuan Nghia, 43, a self-taught Buddhist who’s been disrobing at the meeting spot for 18 years. For Nghia, who recently embraced Protestantism, getting naked is his way to return to infancy, making him feel like he was just “given birth (to) by Jesus or Buddha”.
Most of them have straight laced day jobs as civil servants, journalists, or even state officials. Many come every day — a temperature of 18 Celsius (64 Fahrenheit) did not keep a few dozen skinny dippers out of the water on a recent afternoon, though many warm up over hot tea by the fire. They say shedding their clothes makes them feel uninhibited, a rare chance to stray from the pack in the one-party state where social compliance and strict norms are taught from a young age. “I feel relaxed… and it’s fun. I feel at ease when I come here, I exercise and it makes me feel better when I return to my day job,” vendor Nguyen Hoang Duong, 23, told AFP wearing nothing but an army green cap. Source: Asia Nation