In pre-pandemic times, many seeking to escape reality would look no further than Bali. The Indonesian island promised something for everyone, from spirituality styled for the Instagram era to waves befitting surf champions and luxury bolt-holes where the rich, famous and otherwise fortunate would go to recharge. It even offered such wonders as Pirate Booty Yoga Adventures, wherein yogis could stretch their sea legs aboard a wooden phinisi sailing ship and align their chakras while dressed like extras from Pirates of the Caribbean . However, it appears that two recent retreats were a little too left-field for the Island of the Gods. In March, online news platform Coconuts Bali reported that the four-day Tantric Full Body Energy Orgasm Retreat had been cancelled. According to Coconuts, the event’s Facebook page, which was ultimately taken down, had invited participants to “cultivate and sublimate your sexual energy into a creative life force” while opening “tantric energy pathways to support heightened states of sexual ecstatic full-bodied orgasmic bliss”. All for just US$600. Eight bliss-seekers had indicated they would be attending the event before its page was removed. The second involved a single-day “tantric full-body orgasm” event, posted to Eventbrite and once again brought to English-language readers’ attention by Coconuts. “The event page hints at an intensive sexual education to reach ‘orgasmic awakening,’ highlighting how ‘your brain focuses on cumming – not your body’,” reported the news site, although Agence France-Presse more demurely described the €20 (HK$190) course as “an ‘orgasmic’ yoga class”. In both instances, internet users were unsurprisingly outraged – and not just because of the social-distancing implications. Balinese designer Niluh Djelantik apparently likened the initial retreat to a “modern-day sex business” while the second drew the ire of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s top Muslim clerical body, with deputy chairman Anwar Abbas saying that the event was against “culture and religion”. Before the coronavirus made us fearful of human contact, sex positivity and travel were becoming ever more natural bedfellows. Clothing-optional resorts and hotels with names such as Hedonism II and Paradise Stream were springing up across the globe, although most are concentrated in the Americas. It is important to note that this movement has nothing to do with sex tourism as Asia knows it, promoting consensual encounters between adults rather than prostitution or human trafficking. Still, it certainly has its censurers. The organisers of Bali’s “orgasmic retreats” may well argue they should belong in this camp, advocating for sexuality as a natural, healthy part of human expression. Which is all very well, until you consider where these events were to be held – in the most populous Muslim nation on Earth. Viewed in that context, both start to look disrespectful. “Travellers committed to responsible and sustainable travel must commit to respecting local cultures in ways both large and small,” urges the World Travel & Tourism Council on its website. “Respect should be the guiding principle behind all of your actions. Even if you don’t agree with a custom or a request, honour your role as visitor in someone else’s home and follow their lead, allowing local actions to guide all of your behaviours. The role these locations play in the lives of locals is far more significant than the fleeting satisfaction a tourist received from engaging with a place outside of the context locals desire.” Judging by both official and public reactions, Bali’s “orgasmic” retreats existed light years “outside of the context locals desire”. The Australian facilitator of the first event was questioned by police in Bali but released without charge, according to the Australian Associated Press. Coconuts reported that a 38-year-old Canadian citizen was deported and placed on Indonesia’s “immigration blacklist” for his role in attempting to host the second retreat. “This yoga event is very much in contradiction with Indonesian culture, especially culture in Bali which closely holds traditions and religious norms,” said Jamaruli Manihuruk, the head of the Bali office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, at a press conference on May 9. Words of advice for any Bali-based retreat organisers: respect local culture and customs; leave the sex positivity for those in the Western hemisphere – and it might be safer to focus instead on pirate-themed yoga. The party’s over in Phuket The Thai resort island of Phuket has introduced a clause to its current coronavirus-related restrictions – one that essentially outlaws parties – as it attempts to combat a surge in cases. According to news site The Thaiger, “The island’s latest wave started after a series of events, mostly Bangkok partygoers flying down for parties.” On May 13, The Thaiger explained the details of the provision: “Participating in eating or drinking of alcohol, in the family home or in any other place of residence, must not be attended by outsiders. In addition, the gathering together or the organising of any other activities is prohibited. If the person who violates or commits this offence is a foreigner, the permission to remain living in Thailand under the Immigration Act could be revoked.” On May 9, two British residents of Phuket were fined 6,000 baht (US$190) each for hosting an “illegal” gathering. Titanic sails again … in landlocked Sichuan More than 100 years after the Titanic settled on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, a full-scale replica of the luxury passenger liner is coming together in China’s landlocked Sichuan province. “The project’s main backer was inspired to recreate the world’s most infamous cruise liner by the 1997 box office hit of the same name – once the world’s top-grossing film and wildly popular in China,” reports Agence France-Presse. The project has taken six years to complete, longer than it took to build the original ship, and includes a replica of Britain’s Southampton port, from where the vessel sailed. Once it is open, guests can stay aboard the boat and “Tour buses play the film’s theme tune, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On , on repeat.” Will the 1 billion yuan (US$155 million) attraction be as unsinkable as the original? Only time will tell.