Lewd and Raunchy Dangdut Under Fire After Gaga Kerfuffle

In a country where opposition to Lady Gaga forced the provocative pop star to cancel her show this month, Indonesia’s home-grown stars are also raising the ire of religious authorities. With increasingly lewd lyrics and raunchy dance moves, hugely popular “dangdut” music – an Indonesian fusion of Arabic, Malay, Indian and western pop influences – […]

Bamboo Points Way to Green Construction in Bali

Strong, light and cheaper than steel poles, bamboo is ubiquitous across Asia as scaffolding. So much so that in recognition of the material’s versatility, Bali has made it an emblem of sustainable construction, replacing buildings of concrete and steel with far greener alternatives. An entire school, luxury villas and even a chocolate factory are the […]

‘Slum Tourism’ Treads Between Aid and Exploitation

“I decided to experience the real Jakarta,” said a tourist, stepping gingerly between puddles of putrid water and a scurrying rat in a scene that would never make a postcard. Rohaizad Abu Bakar, 28, a bank employee from Singapore, said he could not believe his eyes as he wandered around the slum in the capital, […]

In Yemen, Eating Is a Luxury Millions Struggle to Afford

For almost half of Yemen’s 22 million people, eating has become a luxury they can’t always afford. On a bad day, Umm Ahmad and her family of five, who live in Sanaa’s shanty-town district of Al-Sunaina, go without any food at all. On a better day, Umm Ahmad’s husband, who works as a vendor, selling […]

Inside Bali’s ‘Hotel Kerobokan’

Palm trees, lawns, a tennis court and room service: What at first glance looks like a cheap resort in Bali is in fact a notorious jail. Kerobokan Prison – where sex and drugs are reportedly rampant among the 1,015 inmates who include 60 foreigners – was taken over last week by rioting prisoners after a […]

World’s ‘Most Expensive’ Tea Grown in Chinese Panda Poo

Chinese entrepreneur An Yanshi is convinced he has found the key ingredient to produce the world’s most expensive tea – panda poo. The former calligraphy teacher has purchased 11 tonnes of excrement from a panda breeding centre to fertilise a tea crop in the mountains of Sichuan province in southwestern China, home to the black […]

Yogi Bends Over Backwards for Afghan Peace

When 30 Afghan prison guards took a break from warden duties to try yoga, they lunged sideways in unison to meditate on pursuing a more peaceful existence in Afghanistan. The unusual scene was orchestrated by French yoga enthusiast Amandine Roche, on a personal quest to promote the idea that for fighting to end and battle […]

Virtual Life Usurps Reality as Technology Exacts Toll

People right across Asia are becoming deathly obsessed with internet-based gadgets, writes Philip Lim A baby girl starves to death as her parents raise a virtual child online; a boy scolded for excessive gaming kills his mother then commits suicide – technology addiction is taking a toll in Asia. With more 100 million “smartphones” now […]