Last updated 2013-07-23 06:01:01 SGT

Having spent the morning at Fruška Gora, we seek respite from the heat at a farmstead (run by one of Dejan's friends) up in the mountains. The dogs on the farm are as doggy as you would imagine: Ming Yang discovers that they are juveniles, which would probably explain a lot of that.

We are directed to a bunch of fig trees, under which are set a few dining tables and long benches, as well as a couple of straw beds. Fig cordial is brought out, icy cold, which all of us appreciate given the midday heat. We alternate between drinking cordial and playing with the dogs and bouncing on the straw beds. John and Dejan break out the cigarettes.

A wrinkled old man, the father of Dejan's friend, emerges from the farmhouse and sits with us to chat. Dejan translates.

“This village, it is called Neradin. It means ‘no work’ in Serbian language. That tells you a lot about the people here.”

The old man looks very pleased with himself as he says this. He's surprised by how quickly Zhi Hui picks up on what he's saying (Zhi Hui learns Russian), given what he knows about Singapore.

“Singapore is tropical city, no? Far, far away from Serbia. Why come here?”

After we deplete the fig cordial, he brings out some mint and elderflower cordial (“I made this myself!”, proudly, while brandishing a sample of said mint); when that, too, runs out, he brings us out around his farm.

“Straw beds over there? For sex! They are best. But here I build shelter out of straw. Cool in summer. It is also good for sex. But I don't build now. Married men have problem! They are married. Russian girls!” (emphatic thumbs up, followed by a few suggestive hand gestures)

Along the way he points out things of interest: ancient stones marking burial sites of Romans long dead along a Roman road long disused; various fruit trees (he plucks some for us to eat); more straw shelters.

“Also, sex without love, is no sex!”

Returning to the tables, we finish off another jug of the mint cordial and very warm butter rolls. As the conversation turns to Singapore again, John repeats that the most beautiful girl he's ever laid eyes on came from Singapore, and then somehow mentions Evil by name. Zhi Hui and I burst out laughing. Ming Yang excuses himself.

We play with the dogs and chat about National Service until the midday heat has broken.

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