Postcard from... Limassol



On the surface of it, Hong Kong and the gaudy beach resort of Limassol on the southern Cypriot coast do not have a huge amount in common.

But come Sunday morning, a small stretch of open land in both cities becomes home to hundreds of Filipinos, South Asians and domestic workers from other countries who lay their picnic mats down in the shade of the trees and share tales of their week. Most of the young women will have been working their fingers to the bone doing the cooking, cleaning and childminding for well-off families in this resort town of 100,000 residents.

They form just one part of the intriguing ethnic make-up of the city, which on the surface of it is just a package-tourist Mecca where  holidaymakers can sit on their tiny balconies in ugly high-rises and gaze at a grey sea while listening to pop music from the nearest “Gentlemen’s Club”.

But look at the signs on the restaurants, and many of them are in Russian. This section of Limassol’s population has been getting the most attention recently, with talks of their ill-gotten gains being snatched away by the European Union and IMF in a bailout deal.

In reality, there is a  whole cross-section of Russian society.

Most likely there are some crooks, but there are also hundreds of businesspeople who were attracted by the low taxes and balmy  weather. Then there are the young Russian women shipped in to serve them in the beachfront bars.